I must admit that the Lotus Elise has never really been a car concept I’ve understood for everyday road use – the 2-seat Elise’s stripped back interior, lack of creature comforts, interior noise and relatively stiff sports suspension make it an everyday user challenge to say the least. Yet I see several people local to me that do indeed use the Elise as their daily ride.
Despite any daily ride negatives, the kit-car-like Elise has stood the test of time very well, having been first introduced to us in 1994 before going on sale in 1996. In fact, it seems to just go from strength to strength.
Lotus has just announced that the car’s line-up is to be augmented by two new models – the Sport and the Sport 220, both with 6-speed manual transmission and both with a weight shaving of 10kg, which takes the Sport down to a mere 866kg in weight.
I guess one of the great things about this lightweight sports car that I’ve possibly overlooked in the past, is the very decent mileage that the combination of lightweight fibreglass body, small overall dimensions and smaller-than-you-might-expect engine produces. Indeed, you can expect to achieve around 45mpg in the Sport and 37.5mpg in the Sport 220 – not at all bad when you consider the niche that this car sits in.
The Sport and Sport 220 will replace the outgoing Elise and Elise S models – and also offer a cut in price too. A more track oriented 220 Cup will be available in 2016.
So to those engines then; the Sport comes equipped with a 1.6 litre petrol engine and the Sport 220 has a 1.8 under the hood. Thanks to the all-important body to weight ratio, the Sport manages an impressive 134bhp and 0-63mph in 6.5 seconds – the 220 betters that as you might expect and achieves that goal in just 4.6 seconds, with a top speed of 145mph compared to the Sport’s 127mph. It’s actually quite amazing what can be achieved with a compact design and lightweight body and chassis.
The weight saving in the main has come from the addition of some lightweight new sports seats, which are available in a tartan trim (optional) rather like those of the old Esprit S1.
One interesting point to note is that the previously optional Sport Mode is now standard on both models. Engage this for improved throttle responsiveness and a change to the threshold of your traction control, all with the aim of making the drive that little bit more exciting.
Pricing is a little more traditional for a sports car with the Sport starting at £29,000 and the 220 at £36,500. If you want to treat yourself for Christmas, you don’t have long to wait as both go on sale in Europe in December 2015.
Images: autocar.co.uk, lotuscars.com
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