The Lotus Exige S – Three Months Later

Post by Mark

I’ve had my Lotus Exige now for nearly three months and during this time I had a bunch of things done to the car in terms of upgrades and improvements. This post is mostly for people trying to google info on the Lotus, so if you’re not into cars in general, just skip this post. Before I get into the specifics of what I’ve done to the car, I do want to highlight one aspect of owning a Lotus that I wasn’t expecting, the amazing community.

The Lotus Community
The Lotus community has been pretty great so far, from the local dealership to online forums and even the main Lotus factory. Everyone is just so friendly and helpful. Like I’ve already mentioned in my previous posts on the car, the local dealer Alghanim has been incredible, I’ve got the brand manager whom I whatsapp whenever I need anything and is now more like a friend then a brand manager, I also have the same Lotus technician I deal with every time I’m at the garage whom I’m on a first name basis, so the whole experience feels very personalized. I’m also in contact with the only other Exige owner in Kuwait at the moment and we’re planning to meet up soon for a photoshoot. I want to see what he’s done to the car and show him what I’ve done. There is another Exige arriving any day now and its going to a guy who’s connected to my circle of friends as well and then there is another Exige arriving by the end of summer that will belong to a close friend. So we’re going to have a pretty great little Exige community popping up here in Kuwait soon.

But its not only in Kuwait where I’ve been having a great experience with Lotus people. When I first got the car I contacted Lotus in the UK regarding some questions I had with the AC, a guy called Tony who is their ‘Technical & Training’ guy responded to me within a few hours. When I emailed him some feedback regarding the AC system, he forwarded my email to their electrical and HVAC department so they could check it out. They actually care about their customers and since we are a small community take all feedback into consideration. A couple of days ago I had another question which I emailed him and again within a few hours he got back to me. Someone at the Lotus factory is replying to my emails in a few hours, I mean I don’t reply that fast to people who email my blog, it’s really impressive how personal the whole experience feels.

The people in the forums are also amazing. Since I got the car I’ve been an active user in The Lotus Forums and I’ve been trying to contribute to the community as much as I can [eg 1, 2, 3 and 4]. Since there are only a few hundred Exige (V6) owners around the world, there really isn’t much documentation and reviews online on various accessories and upgrades you can perform on the car. So whatever I’ve been doing, I’ve been documenting and sharing with the community.

The Upgrades
So like I mentioned at the start of this post, I went through a first round of different upgrades for the car, below is a list of what I’ve done so far.

Sound System
The first thing I did as soon as I got the car was upgrade the sound system. The car had four cheap-ass speakers and a very basic single-DIN car stereo that didn’t even have bluetooth. So I decided to upgrade the car with the following setup:

Alpine CDE-HD149BT Receiver
Alpine KTP-445A Amp
Focal 100AC Access Series Speakers (Front)
Focal 130AC Access Series Speakers (Rear)

The whole setup looks stock with the amp also hidden in the dashboard so you wouldn’t really be able to tell I changed anything. But sound wise its a huge improvement over the stock sound system and it didn’t really cost me much for basically what is top of the line stuff.

Carbon Fiber Covers for the Engine Bay
This was strictly a cosmetic and practicality upgrade. You can see the Lotus engine through the glass boot and since we have a lot of dust in Kuwait, I have to clean the engine bay every so often so that it looks presentable under the glass. I kept having trouble dusting one of the large plastic covers in the engine bay because it had a rough texture. So I ordered a pair of glossy carbon fiber covers from Komo-tec in Germany, and now the engine is sandwiched between two shiny carbon fiber pieces. If you want to see how the engine bay looked like before, click [Here]

2Bular Exhaust System
This was the biggest upgrade I did to the car, I swapped out the stock exhaust for one by 2Bular. There are three popular exhaust brands for the Lotus, 2Bular, Komo-tec and Larini, all three cost the same so in the end it came down to aesthetics and sound signature. 2Bular won on both those counts for me. The 2Bular exhausts are hand built by a guy called Jim Valentine in Aberdeen and he just does Lotus exhausts and nothing else. It took around a month from when I placed an order, had him build it and then get it shipped and delivered to my door here in Kuwait. Last year he had a backlog of orders and so was taking months to deliver the exhausts to customers which is why I was grateful it just took a month in my case. I had the exhaust installed at a local garage called Gemballa and I’m currently in the processes of breaking it in. It sounds really angry so far, but like the stock exhaust its also valved which means I can have it quiet when I want it quiet, and loud when I want it loud.

Soft Top
This is the last thing I got but won’t be using it till fall when the weather cools down. During the cold months I’ll be removing the hard top roof on the car and replacing it with the soft top. It will make taking off and putting on the roof a lot easier plus it rolls up and fits in the trunk, something I couldn’t do with the hard top. New at the local dealer the soft top costs KD900, but I found a used one on the German eBay for KD400 shipped to Kuwait. I decided it was too good a deal to pass and just bought it and will now store it till winter.

Whats Next?
Nothing, I think I’m done for now. I’m considering getting a small sub for the sound system, but because of the size of the car, it’s gonna be a bit of a headache to install and hide which is why I haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet. Other than that though I think I’m done with all the upgrades. I fucking love this car and I’m so glad I’ve got a friend getting one because we basically spend the whole time now sharing Exige videos and talking about the cars. It’s so much fun.


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The Lotus Exige S – One Month Later

Post by Mark

It’s been a month since I bought the Lotus, and in this month I managed to drive just over 3000KM and even shipped it to Bahrain to race it on their GP circuit. When I first got the car I was in love with it but after this weekends trip to Bahrain, I’m now even more in love with it if thats somehow even possible.

So far modification wise, I’ve done two things to the car, the first was to swap out the shitty stock radio with a much better one that has bluetooth at least. The second thing I did was to get front paint protection from ProTech. So the whole front of the car till the windshield is now protected with an invisible film. I wouldn’t usually do this but because its such a low car and I’m driving it daily, I figured it would be worth getting the protection for the long run. I also ordered some better speakers and I should be installing those myself sometime this week. I don’t think I’ll be doing any other modifications after I get the sound system up to spec, I’ll possibly get window tinting but thats about it.

I’ve been driving the car daily since I got it, it’s now my main daily drive while the FJ has become my going to Shuwaikh or going to chalet car. Although the Lotus suspension is pretty stiff, its not uncomfortable at all and I don’t even have issues with the front and bottom of the car scraping on speed bumps even though the car is super low. I did nearly have an issue after shopping at Allsaints, their bag was too big to fit in my trunk. But, after a bit of origami work, I managed to shrink the bag enough to close the trunk lid. So yeah I definitely won’t be picking up people from the airport in the Lotus, not unless they’re traveling with just their wallet and phone.


Sorry about the terrible angle, will fix it next time

When I took the car to track day in Bahrain, thats where I fell in love with the car even more. Racing on the track in the Lotus was a ridiculous amount of fun. It’s extremely well balanced on turns, has minimal body roll, lots of power and as expected, incredible handling. The steering wheel isn’t powered so on the track it was providing me with so much feedback that there is no way I would now want to go back to a car with powered steering for track use. I did the full track day at the Bahrain International Circuit which was from 4PM to 11PM at night and the car handled it like a champ. The sessions were divided between cars and motorbikes, 30 minutes cars, 30 minutes bikes. Over the course of the 30 minute session I never faced any issues like overheating or brakes starting to fade. If it wasn’t for the 30 minute session limit, I could keep going on and on and on.


Photo courtesy of Bahrain International Circuit

The only thing that actually would prevent me from going on and on is the size of the fuel tank, it’s tiny (43l). After every two sessions I had to drive to the gas station down the street from the race track and fill up my tank full again. I filled up like 4 times that afternoon. Other than that I didn’t really have any main issues. I need a new set of tires and thats gonna set me back like KD450 which sucks. I actually need to work out some kind of deal with Pirelli since I’m going to be visiting them quite often.

I also had two issues with the car which I’m guessing are related to my hard driving on the track. The first issue was that my car wouldn’t lock by remote because it kept thinking my rear hood was open even though it wasn’t. The second issue was with my AC blower knob, when I’d switch it to blower speed 3, the AC would shut off but would work fine on speed 1 and 2. So after the car came back from Bahrain yesterday, I dropped it off at the dealer and they just messaged me awhile ago telling me they fixed both issues and to go in and pick up the car.

I’m loving their service so far and they’re not giving me extra special treatment because I’m Mark. A friend of mine also bought a Lotus a couple of weeks ago and the first thing he told me was how much he loved their service. They really are great, I whatsapp the brand manager for example all the time with the most mundane things, and he hasn’t blocked me yet! (Thank you Waleed)

So would I recommend the Lotus? YES, for sure. Before I bought the car I was torn between it, the BMW M2 and the Porsche Cayman GT4 but now after spending a month with that car I know I made the right choice. A friend of mine just bought a Lotus as well and I have another friend who’s considering the Exige 380 Cup in the beautiful baby blue color (like in the video above). You need to get in and drive a Lotus to understand what all the fuss is about. I already told the Lotus dealer they should hook me up with free brake pads and tires for every referral I send their way but I think they think I’m kidding. I’m not. Like with all brands I love, I tend to promote them like I own them and it’s no different with Lotus, I’ve been promoting the hell out of them.

For those of you who’re interested in tracking your car in Bahrain, stay tuned for a separate post on how you could do that as well.


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A Weekend with the Lotus Exige S

Post by Mark

exige1

I’ve been a Lotus fan for sometime now and a few years ago when a friend of mine sold his, I regretted not buying it off him myself. The fact that there’s a dealership now makes me even regret it more but I got over it, or at least I thought I had until this weekend. Thursday morning I picked up a brand new Lotus Exige S from the dealership to use over the weekend, and after giving it back yesterday my feelings on it haven’t changed, I still love and want the car.

Let me get this out of the way first, this isn’t the car for you. Well at least 99.9% of you and I’ll explain why.

exige2

Notice I use the side pillars in the car like a bookshelf for my phone and wallet.

As a regular car the Exige is horrible and I don’t even know where to begin. The seats? The most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever sat in and you can’t adjust them. The car is super tiny on the inside, I mean my Datsun is tiny but it’s actually huge compared to the Exige. It’s so tiny that the passenger seat is stuck to your seat, I actually kept buckling my seatbelt into the passenger side seatbelt accidently because they’re so close. It can be pretty awkward on a first date but you know whats even more awkward? Getting in or out of the car. There is no way, and I really mean no way to get in and out of the car gracefully no matter how hard you try. This mostly has to do with the fact that there is a huge pillar you need to climb over to get into the seat and the fact the car is so low it makes the whole process very awkward. There are even videos online that show you how to get in and out of the car! Watch [This One] and then [This One]. The fact you need to watch a video to show you how to get in and out of the car should give you an idea that this isn’t a normal car. Also when I say this is a low car I mean this is a LOW car. I drove by a mini cooper on the Gulf Road and all I could see was the mini’s door handle. The Exige is so low it can drive under parking gates.

But wait I’m not done yet! There is so much more that doesn’t make sense in the car. To turn the lights on at night you press one button, to turn it off you need to press two different buttons. Why?? Before getting the car I thought the AC might not be good enough for Kuwait’s weather but my issue with the AC this weekend was that it was too much for the Exige. For a car thats slightly larger than an iPad I don’t understand why it has 8 AC vents, 4 in the front, and then 4 right behind you facing the front. At the lowest fan setting there was still too much AC for the size of the car. I spent most of the time closing vents and opening the window to balance the temperature inside the car. If there is a place I want to be in the summer its the ice skating rink and the inside of this Lotus. What else did I find terrible in the car? The stereo, easily the worst sound system in any car I’ve ever driven, it’s slightly better than my Datsun’s sound system from the 70s and that’s because I could plug my iPhone into it. I really need to go back and talk about the size of the interior again, the car is so small that without moving from my seat, I high-fived a friend who was standing outside the passenger side window. I’m not exaggerating, that incident actually happened. Interior glove compartment? Nope. Trunk space? It’s big enough to fit a backpack… maybe. The steering wheel also isn’t powered so I hope you’ve been working out since parking this car is a workout. Speaking of parking, the visibility out of the rear window is terrible and there are plenty of blindspots all around. Reversing from my parked position back onto a main road involved so much back and forth head movement, to a passerby I must have looked like I was having an epileptic seizure.

seatbelt

Thats how close the seats are!

But, with all that being said, when you buy an Exige you know what you’re getting into. You wouldn’t get into a Formula 1 race car and then complain that it doesn’t have a cup holder. You’re not expected to be able to pick up your visiting relatives from the airport in an Exige or even doing something as simple as dropping your mum off at the hairdresser (she either won’t be able to get in or won’t be able to get out).

The Lotus Exige S weighs only 950KG 1175KG but has a 345HP supercharged engine. It does 0 to 60mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed that is electronically limited to 233km/h. It’s small, it’s very fast and most importantly, it’s a ton of fun. This weekend I had a blast with the car and I wish I could do it again the next weekend and the weekend after that. It’s all the negatives in the earlier paragraph that makes this car so great. Sure I would have loved a better sound system but I’d rather have a shitty sound system and keep the car small and simple, than an amazing sound system that would add weight, need a larger interior and add complications to the car. Every decision in this car was made not to sacrifice performance and performance is what you get here. Just ask Chris Harris. The car is really easy to drive fast which makes it very driver friendly.

The interior is very barebones, all you will get is 3 knobs for the AC, an Alpine stereo, 3 buttons for the lights and then buttons for changing gears. That’s the whole interior. Even the speedometer cluster doesn’t contain any information other than your speed, RPM, a digital read out of your speed and a few warning lights. It’s going back to basics which is something I’ve started appreciating because of my Datsun. You don’t need a large touch screen, you don’t need 12 cupholders, you don’t need automatic folding mirrors or interior mood lights, you don’t need majority of the stuff in your car. With the Exige, it’s just you, the car and the road. No distractions.

exige3

Visually the car is a work of art. From all the cars I’ve ever driven, none got me as much attention as this one did. Everywhere I went people were checking the car out. Even hotel valets who’ve come across everything where checking the Exige out. Actually pulling up to valet in an Exige was fun, I was like I want to park here and they just moved a car for me and I parked in it’s place right at the front of the hotel entrance. Park an Exige next to a Ferrari and more people will likely check out the Exige just because it’s such a rare and over the top looking car.

With all the misgivings of this car I actually loved it and I now more than ever regret not getting if off my friend. The only thing I really would want them to improve on is the seat but other than that I didn’t mind all the weird issues the car had. The price? The Exige S starts at KD27,000 which I think is a fair price… if it was a car I could drive everyday. But it isn’t which makes this price difficult to swallow. This isn’t a daily driver, it’s barely a car you want to drive even just on weekends. This is a track car first, road car second which is why it would be perfect in countries that have race tracks like Bahrain and UAE. It’s a car you can take to the track on the weekend, be competitive and then drive it to work the day after. But sadly for us, we don’t have a race track here so it’s hard to justify the Exige. But, I’ll be test driving the Lotus Evora soon which is supposed to be everything the Exige is except with the extra amenities that make it a better everyday car. So I’m looking forward to that.

For more information on Lotus cars or if you’d like to test drive one, check out the local dealers instagram account @alghanimlotuskw


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Lotus Exige S

Post by Mark

A friend of mine is selling his Lotus and NegativEffect put this video together for him. I love the sound the car makes… [YouTube]

Note: My birthday is coming up if anyone is interested hint hint


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Hello Lotus!

Post by Mark

Those of you who follow me on instagram and twitter probably already figured out that I sold my beloved Datsun last week because I bought a Lotus Exige instead. It wasn’t a planned purchase, it just happened, I guess something like an impulse buy but on a grander scale. Last Saturday I went with a friend to check out a 1972 Chevy C10 pickup truck which I was planning to buy. On our way back I had to drop my friend off at a garage when I came across a used car lot that had a yellow Lotus Exige displayed for sale, the same one I had reviewed nearly a year ago. So I sent the Lotus brand manager a message about it and he told me if I had an itch to drive the Exige again, they had the roof off on their current vehicle and I could come in the next morning and take the car out for a couple of days. Who would say no to that?

The next morning I headed straight to the Lotus dealership and picked up the Exige. A few minutes after driving off in the car, I had a huge smile on my face I remembered why I loved it so much when I took it out last year to review. So when the brand manager messaged me back the next day to confirm I would be dropping the car off in the evening, I told him I had fallen in love with it and this time I wasn’t bringing it back. After a couple of days of negotiating on the price over whatsapp, I went back to the dealership and paid for the car. I’m still unsure if I got a good deal or not since I don’t consider myself a great negotiator (Tip: Do NOT tell the dealer you love the car), but I’ve got the car now with no regrets so thats all that matters.

When I originally wrote my review of the Exige last year, I described it as a car not meant for 99.9% of the people and I still stand by that. I actually spent most of that review complaining about the car. It’s extremely quirky to put it nicely with a lot of odd and unorthodox things about it. But, with all the issues I had with the car when I reviewed it, something about it really attracted me to it. I’ve reviewed a lot of amazing cars for the blog but nothing connected with me the way the Exige did. I love sitting inside the small cozy cockpit, I love the way it looks on the outside, I even love how awkward it is to get in and out of and I definitely love recording videos of my friends trying to get out of the car. If the Exige was a person, it would be an awkward introvert and I think thats why I love it.

There are only 3 Exige’s in Kuwait at the moment, my midnight blue one, a white one and a yellow one so it’s a pretty rare car and I feel special. But, I’m now curious to see what that means to the cost and availability of parts, supposedly service costs is similar to Lexus which is great, but I didn’t ask about the parts since I didn’t want to freak out and change my mind about buying the car. Speaking of parts, there is a pretty active online community of aftermarket parts and I’ve already got my eye on some carbon fiber body panels and other upgrades, but the first thing I want to modify on the car is the license plates. For some reason Alghanim (the dealer) installed square ones on the car but I think the wider rectangular ones would look so much nicer on it. So if anyone knows what the process is for swapping the square plates for the rectangular ones is, please let me know!


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The Lotus Evora 400

Post by Mark

evora1

Like the Lotus Exige S which I recently wrote about on the blog, theres a lot to love and hate in the Evora 400. I actually ended up having the car over two weekends so I got to spend a pretty good amount of time with the car. I’ll get all the good stuff out of the way first, then talk about a few negatives points before telling you what I think.

When I first got into the Evora 400 and drove off I was really surprised at how civil the car was. Unlike the Exige S, getting into the car didn’t require any acrobatics since it’s like a normal car, you just open the door and get in. The interior was also a lot more fancier with leather all around, beautiful center console with controls for the AC and gear box, and with seats that were super comfy. The Evora has a Supercharged 3.5L V6 producing 400hp but you wouldn’t be able to tell when the car is in regular touring mode. I thought the Evora was too quiet, like nearly electric car quiet since you couldn’t hear the engine or exhaust, just the whine of the supercharger. The car felt too civil which was starting to feel disappointing since the reason I’m in a Lotus is because it’s a sports car and so I wanted it to sound like one. Luckily, the Evora has a cool trick up its sleeve. On regular touring mode, the car doesn’t sound any louder than a Toyota Camry, but as soon as you hit the exhaust button on the dashboard, everything changes. The Evora suddenly comes to life and the sound becomes brutal and violent. If you’re in an indoor parking lot and roll down your windows, you won’t believe how beautiful the Evora can sound.

evora2

I think that was my favorite aspect of the Evora, it can be super silent and an unassuming daily driver (just don’t go with bright orange), or it can be the loud in your face track car. Daily driver is how I kept describing the car to my friends whenever they asked me what I thought of it. Then you have the looks, god damn it’s a super hot looking car. Like the Exige S, everywhere I went people wouldn’t stop staring, it’s such an eye catcher.

lotusinside

But, not all is great. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I had the Evora 400 over two weekends. The reason for that is the first weekend I ran into issues with the gearbox. Something was wrong with the programming and so when I would give the car a hard kick down, the car would sometimes shift from 1st gear to 2nd to 3rd and then just get stuck there instead of continuing to shift up. On one occasion it even got stuck on 2nd gear. Then one night on my way back home, the gearbox, engine and traction control lights all came on and the car wouldn’t shift anymore and just stayed stuck on 3rd gear. I dropped the car off back to Lotus the next morning and got it back again this past weekend. I guess they reset the software or something but all the issues I had with the gearbox the previous weekend disappeared. Putting that bit of bad luck aside though I did have more issues with the car, ones that a software update couldn’t fix. One of my issues with the Exige S was the lack of storage space, not sure how it’s possible but the Evora has even less space than the Exige. There is a small pocket on the door that might or might not hold your wallet depending on how big it is, and there is also a small glove compartment that can hold your sunglasses, but other than that there is nothing. I had to keep my phone in between my legs or on the passenger seat because there was no room anywhere to put my phone. I should mention there is a back seat in this car that supposedly can hold two passengers, but unless those passengers don’t have any legs I’m not sure how they’ll fit there. The back of my seat literally touches the rear seat so there’s no way anyone can sit behind me thats for sure. Finally the last issue with the car is one that I find mind boggling. I took the car to get it washed and it leaked in water from both doors in the exact same location. If it was one side you could say it might have been a defect or whatever, but both sides? Thats just poor design which is why I don’t understand how Lotus didn’t catch this.

The Evora 400 starts at KD34,000 which puts it right in the Porsche 911 turf. But the question then becomes, do you want a car that everyone has? Or do you want a car that is less common and unique? If I’m paying that much money, I don’t want to blend in so then it becomes about how much issues can I put up with. Personally, with all the issues I had with the more affordable Exige S, I’m in love with that car. Maybe if I ask nicely they’ll let me take the Exige S back out for another weekend.

If you’re interested in test driving a Lotus then pass by them, they have both the Exige S and Evora 400 available. Here is a link to their instagram account @alghanimlotuskw


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Lotus Car Dealer Now Open

Post by Mark

lotuscars

Alghanim Motors have officially opened the Lotus dealership in Kuwait. I passed by yesterday to check it out and they’ve got two models in stock, the Lotus Exige and the Lotus Evora. The Exige starts at KD27,000 while the Evora starts at KD34,000.

testdrives

For those interested, according to the salesman they’ll have two test drive vehicles available in the next couple of days (pictured above). Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Lotus Cars Coming to Kuwait

Post by Mark

lotus

Alghanim Motors are bringing the Lotus brand to Kuwait and they’re opening their first showroom in Shuwaikh opposite The Historical, Vintage and Classic Car Museum. Lotus is a British car brand and currently have some really hot looking cars like the Exige and Evora range. They aren’t a mainstream brand but they do have a bit of a cult following.

I’ve also heard rumors that Alghanim Motors acquired the Ford brand but I haven’t been able to verify that so I’m treating it as just a rumor for now. I heard that Ford and the current local dealer weren’t getting along and so Ford gave the brand to someone else. We’ll find out soon enough, I’m just glad that someone finally brought Lotus to Kuwait.


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Alfa, Dodge and Porsche

Post by Mark

Yesterday while getting my FJ serviced I decided to pass by the dealerships check out if there was anything interesting. One thing I found surprising was the fact a lot of dealerships still had 2015 cars that were unsold. So for example Jeep had a brand new 2015 Grand Cherokee SRT for a heavily discounted price of KD16,000 while a new 2017 model goes for KD24,000. Same with Nissan who had 2015 model year 370’s selling for a heavily discounted price of KD9,000.

Anyway, the cars below are the ones I figured car fanatics might be interested in:

Read the rest of this entry »


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IMPROV Comedy Night This Weekend!

Post by Mark

sik

The Staged in Kuwait IMPROV Comedy Night is back for a new season and their first show is this weekend. This is by far my favorite comedy show in Kuwait and one I highly recommend checking out if you’ve never done so before. They’ll be introducing a whole bunch of new comedians this year and I’m interested to see how they turn out.

The shows previously used to take place at the Live Theater in Discovery Mall which I liked but the last one and this weekends show is being held at the new Crowne Plaza Auditorium in Farwaniya (pictured above). Nice auditorium just horrible parking outside. Last time I was lucky and since I pulled up in an intimidating yellow Lotus Exige S so managed to convince the valet guy to let me park right at the entrance, don’t think I’m going to be as lucky this time around.

Anyway for more information on the comedy night as well as a link to buy tickets click [Here]


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