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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No More Illegal Parking at the Kuwait Airport

Post by Mark

The Civil Aviation authority has banned illegal parking at the Kuwait Airport. Previously the long term parking lot would be filled with cars parked on top of curbs and in no parking areas, but this will no longer be allowed. Parking attendants will no longer let you in if the parking is full and if you do park illegally, you will now be fined KD150. Like most new decisions in Kuwait, I doubt this will last long.

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Nitrogen Air at Gas Stations

Post by Mark

KNPC gas stations have started fitting nitrogen air to use for filling your tires up. So is nitrogen air better for your tires? Well firstly to take advantage you’d have to completely empty the air out of your current tires and fill it with nitrogen, but even then you won’t see any benefits according to Tiff from Fifth Gear. Check out his video below.

So regular air or nitrogen air, same same.

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ORP’s 4×4 Shop Now Online

Post by Mark

Off Road Performance (ORP) is a 4×4 aftermarket parts specialist that’s located right here in Kuwait. They are my go-to place whenever I need to upgrade anything in my FJ Cruiser and I’ve been using them ever since I found out about them back in 2010. They carry a bunch of popular 4×4 brands like FOX, Warn, Teraflex, KC Hilites, Bushwacker, Fabtech, Mickey Thompson and a lot more.

A couple of weeks ago, ORP launched an online shop which I found out about over the weekend and I’m in love with it. I also hate it a bit since I’m now worried I’m going to be on the website all the time looking for items to buy.

The website is clean looking and easy to flip through but my favorite aspect of it is that once you choose one of the sections (pictured above), you can then choose your car from a dropdown menu and the website will only show you parts that are compatible with your car. This small feature makes flipping through all the items a lot more efficient.

I’m so glad they setup a full fledged online store instead of going with the easier route of just turning their instagram account into a shop which is what a lot businesses tend to do. So if you’ve got a 4×4 and are looking for parts for it, check out their website []

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RedBull Car Park Drift Recap

Post by Mark

If you missed the car park drift competition this past weekend, someone made of a video of the whole thing and uploaded it online. It’s a pretty good video (minus the music) and Sirbb Circuit seems like the perfect venue for this event. [Vimeo]

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My Q8 Grand Limo Experience

Post by Mark

A few days ago I posted about the app Q8 Grand Limo which I promoted as an alternative for Uber and Careem. That same night they sent out an SMS with a 248AM coupon code which would offer people 20% off on their trips. It kinda pissed me off since they sent it without contacting me first, nor did they even ask me if it was OK to use my brand. Nobody from Q8 Grand Limo had spoken to me at all so when I got the SMS myself, I was surprised and pissed. So I decided I wasn’t going to write about them ever again.

Then this morning I decided to try them out and had such a great experience I decided that even though I’m pissed off at them, they were so good that it would be a shame not to write about my experience.

I had to pass by the Lotus garage and pick up my car today so I pre-booked a ride for 9:30AM. I ended up waking up earlier than expected so canceled my pre-booking and reordered a cab to come right away. The time estimate given was 15 minutes and I could track the cab on his way over to my house via the app. Once the cab arrived, like with Uber, I got a notification letting me know he was here and I headed down to find a sparkling clean black Chrysler with dark tinted windows and a tan leather interior. The driver even came out to open the door for me and he was dressed in black pants, a white shirt, a black vest and a tie. First impression, it felt very fancy.

The driver had my location already plugged into Google Maps and we headed towards Rai using Google’s recommended fastest route. Once we got to my destination, he asked me how I wanted to pay and I said Knet, so he pulled out the Knet machine and I paid. The trip should have cost KD3 which is a steal for the experience, but I ended up using the coupon code “248AM” which they had spammed people with and I ended up paying just KD2.4. Thats from Salmiya to Al Rai. Very cool. It’s actually kinda of a relief that we finally have a decent cab offering. Next week I have to drop my car off again to ProTech to get window tinting and I’ll definitely be using them again.

So all is forgiven and I’m not that pissed off at them anymore. If you want to take advantage of the promo code, you need to enter 248AM in the promo code space while booking the cab. The expiry date for the code is end of the year but they’ve limited the number of times the code can be used to 1,000. So until the code is used a thousand times (by everyone not just you), then we will be able to get 20% off our rides. Thats a really good deal.

Update: OK, Q8 Grand Limo called me up now to explain the confusion. The promo code is just meant for me, it will only work with my phone number so you guys won’t be able to use it. I told them they should have called me an explained what it was before sending me the SMS without and that I already posted about it on the blog. So the person I spoke to said they’ll work on an updated promo code for my readers and send it to me when it’s ready to share.

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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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An Alternative to Uber and Careem

Post by Mark

Since it looks like Uber isn’t coming to Kuwait anytime soon and Careem stopped operating in Kuwait as well, here is an alternative app you could use for now, Q8 Grand Limo. I haven’t used them yet but a friend of mine speaks extremely highly of them. They work similar to Uber as in you load up the app and request a cab to your location, but it also has a similar feature to Careem in which you could pre-book a cab for a specific time. So say you need a cab at 4AM in the morning for a early flight, you can pre-book the cab.

Price wise it seems to be cheaper than Careem but more expensive than regular cabs. The app gave me a fare estimate of 2.250-3.750 from Kuwait City to Salmiya. I’ll be using them soon and when I do I’ll post an update. The app is available for both Apple phones and Android phones. For links to download them as well as more information you can check out their website

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Invisible Speed Bumps

Post by Mark

I think speed bumps serve a great purpose considering how people speed on inside streets, but I hate how in Kuwait majority of the speed bumps have no visible markings and just blend in with the streets at night.

With my FJ I don’t really care much because if I miss one it’s no big deal, I can just fly over the bump and its a bit of discomfort for a second. But with my Lotus its a completely different story. I can’t just fly over the speed bumps accidentally, I actually missed a speed bump last week and it was the scariest thing ever with my front spoiler lip digging into the tarmac and throwing up little pebbles in the air. I thought for sure I broke something but luckily nothing happened.

Can we get clear white stripes on the speed bumps? I know majority of speed bumps start life off with white stripes, but once they start fading they should be remarked again. It’s not that complicated a problem to solve…

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How to Renew Your Driving License in Kuwait

Post by Mark

Yesterday I got my driving license renewed for the first time in like a decade. Previously they’d renew the license for 10 years but now its year by year which is super annoying but whatever, there isn’t anything I can do about it. What I wanted to write about was the required documents you need to renew your license, and the process you have to go through at the traffic department since the information on is inaccurate. This way if anyone is googling information, they’ll hopefully end up on this page. So lets begin.

Required Documents:
– Civil ID Copy
– Passport Copy (photo page and visa page)
– Work Permit Copy
– Your Company’s Notarized Signatures (e3timad tawkee3)
– Two Personal Photos, Blue Background 6×4
– Your Expired License

Once you have all your documents head to the traffic department near you, I live in Salmiya so I headed to the traffic department in Jabriya. As an expat I can only renew my license in the afternoon starting from 4PM. Get there early. On arrival first thing you need to do is go to the typists who are usually located near the main entrance. Tell them you want to renew your license and hand them all your paperwork. They’ll type out the correct form with your details and then staple all the documents together. They’ll charge KD1 for this process not including making copies of any documents. You could ask them what you have to do next and they’ll point you in that direction.

The next step is to hand your paper over to the license renewal desk (it’s marked) and in my case was located inside the main hall of the traffic department. Make sure you don’t have any fines, if you do they’ll make you go settle them first. If you don’t have any fines they’ll print out a paper for you stating that. The next step is to get your documents signed by the officer in charge. The officer wasn’t at his desk when I went so they told me to go to another officer outside the main hall sitting at the front desk. When I went there I swear there was a queue with around 100 people in it. I couldn’t see the end of the line kind of queue and I’m not exaggerating. While standing there in shock and regretting not bringing my Nintendo Switch with me, I spotted an officer nearby so I went up to him just to make sure this was the line I had to stand in. So I went up to him and in English asked him where I should get this signed. He told me he doesn’t speak English, then I pointed at the document and he said go stand in that line. So I pointed to the line and was like this line?? He then asked me if I had my old license with me, and I showed him, then he asked to see a few other documents which I showed him. He then told me to get a KD1 stamp which I did. He stuck the stamp on my form, took all the documents, went behind the desk and had the officer there sign my document. That was super nice of him and I got to avoid standing in line for an hour. So good luck with this step.

Once you have the documents signed you head over to the driving license renewal desk again and hand them the papers. You’ll now have to sit and wait for your name to be called out. If your license is already expired then they’ll call your name out and tell you to go pay a KD5 fine. This fine will only pop-up at this stage, you can’t get it paid before the process. Once you pay the fine you come back and give your papers again. After a short while they’ll call your name again and send you to a room to get your photo taken. Once you get it taken you’ll have to wait for your license to get printed.

When I was there yesterday they were having technical issues with the license printing machine so I had to wait two hours to get my license printed. The employees actually stayed late after their working hours to make sure everybody got their license printed including the main officer. They were pretty apologetic about the delay. Thankfully there was a Formula 1 race taking place last night, and so I got to watch it live on my phone while I waited which wasn’t too bad.

So there you have it, this is what you need to do to renew your license.

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