"With its incredible handling, thrilling performance and unique styling the Lotus Elise has proved one of the most succesful and popular British sports cars of its generation"
With its exceptional handling, thrilling performance and unique styling, the Lotus Elise has proved to be one of the most succesful and also popular British sports cars of its generation. Starting from £28,000 for the entry-level model, power comes from a Toyota sourced 1.8-litre 134bhp engine. Weighing only 860kg it is some 300kg lighter than the Mazda MX-5. The range-topping supercharged SC edition manages 217bhp from the same engine but most impressively all versions manage over 30mpg, almost unheard of from a sports car that can do the 0-60mph sprint in under 5 seconds.
Very few cars can match the Elise for its fun driving credentials. Thanks to its lightweight frame, compact layout and and rear-engined driving arrangemnt, the Elise is unbelievably agile and direct. Offering a go-kart like driving experience, steering is incedibly precise and there is lots of feedback through the steering wheel. The ride is good too, but can get a little tiring on longer journeys.
Once you manage to get inside, the Elise is actually very comfortable for such a small sportscar. Wind noise is not too distracting either while the stiff suspension does take some getting used too. There is also the option of adding a Touring Pack if you desire extra comfort and this includes leather seat trim, plus further noise insulation.
In the past Lotus' have been associated with poor levels of reliability but this is no longer an issue. The current Elise has a sturdy shell built from a mixture of aluminium and plastic composite. While under the bonnet the 1.8-litre Toyota engine is about as tough and reliable as it gets.
One of the biggest problems with the Elise is its poor levels of practicality. It's low ride height and wide sills make getting into and out of the Elise extremely awkward and once inside cabin space is non existent. Driven from the rear the boot at the front is tiny and the rear parcel shelf is not of that much use either.
Value for money
The latest version of the Elise is the most refined and comfortable so far. At just under £30,000 for the entry-level model it is expensive for such an awkward and quirky two-seater, but few cars offer as much driver thrills, reasonable running costs and have as much character.
Apart from the initial cost of purchasing an Elise they are actually surpsingly affordable to run. Expect mileage of over 30mpg which is excellent for any sportscar and the Elise comes with a two year warranty. High CO2 emissions do mean that annual road tax is quite high though.