Tokyo 2009: Lotus Exige Stealth, complete with soft-touch paint

Lotus Exige Stealth - Click above for high-res image gallery

Lotus has unveiled the latest special edition of its maximum performance, minimum everything else Exige today at the Tokyo Motor Show. We took a moment to check out the Exige Stealth (known as the Scura in Europe) on the show floor and managed to curry some time with Lotus vehicle development director Roger Becker.

The new model gains a set of comely forged alloy wheels, but the big news with the car is the unique paint. We asked Becker about the Stealth and its special finish, and as it turns out, this is more than just a basic matte paint. Lotus has been experimenting for several years with matte finishes but was never satisfied with the results. The problem – as anyone who has ever done body repairs and worked on primer-finished cars can tell you – is that matte surfaces really show marks and stone chips. Lotus wanted something more durable before putting the car into production.

To create the Exige seen here, the entire car has to be sprayed in the base gloss coat seen on the central stripes. The stripe area was then masked off and the rest of the body abraded in order to get a surface that the matte paint will grip to. Finally, a newly formulated rubberized matte paint is applied. When you touch the car, the surface actually feels soft, and according to Becker, it is four- to five-times more resistant to marking and peeling than other finishes.

Just 35 examples are planned, so get your deposit in now.

Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid, Jonathon Ramsey / Weblogs, Inc.

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