The Lotus Elise first came out in 1996 and changed the game in sports car design. Its composite body and lightweight aluminum chassis redefined the standard for its kind, forcing other competitors to follow suit and apply the same basic principle to their design. The most recent 2011 model includes significant upgrades such as brand new alloy wheels, headlights, tail-lights, and a two-year extension to the warranty. The Elise also offers 118b ft worth of torque at 134bhp, complies to the emissions regulations of Euro 5, and has reduced CO2 emissions by 16 per cent. The Elise comes in three trims: the Sport, Sport Touring, and Touring.
The ingenious base structure from 1996 remains in the latest 2011 model, along with enhanced features of the bonded, extruded, and strong lightweight aluminum chassis unit. Bolted to the chassis is a suspension and mid-mounted powertrain. Other notable features include the LED sidelamps on the headlight units that can readily guide you through the night and the standout shape of the grille that also includes a mesh-in fill. Attractive chrome lettering of the “Lotus” logo is seen in the vertical tail panel.
The 1.6-litre engine unit is impressive given the extremely heavy 900kg weight. Nonetheless, it’s able to arrive at 62mph from standstill in just 4.6 seconds. Plus it’s much faster in reaching 100mph by eight seconds next to the usual vehicle. This places the Lotus Elise in the league of the Nissan 370Z Roadster, the Porsche Boxter, and the BMW Z4 sDrive28i. Performance is adequate enough, promising drivers all the necessities as they shift gear. No need to worry about the engine being unable to pump hard when necessary. Plus both engines are able to rise above 5000rpm especially when you’re in need of that extra zest at the first four gears.
The Lotus Elise distinguishes itself in its ride and handling. Steering is sensitive and immediately takes effect, along with the revolving wheels that make the ride more than pleasurable. Resistance is provided for as you place more muscle into turning the wheel, while lock and lightness is felt as you turn. Feedback is quick, begging you to the test the wheel into each corner and journey transition. The mid-mounted engine enhances the experience with its neutral angle of attack and excellent traction. Stability generated not only assures safety but also encourages driver to shift into even the highest speed with free abandon. The vehicle’s handling is further enhanced by its ability to absorb small bumps, sudden dips, and long crests. Expect a slight provocation, however, from ridges.
Unfortunately the latest Elite upgrades did not cover the dated interior. The plastics on the dashboard continue to look cheap. The mirrors remain manual, the roof still difficult to remove, and the ventilation and heating controls looking crude. Seats are quite uncomfortable as well, unable to provide sufficient under-thigh support. Then there’s the need to buy the Touring Pack so that the engine noise will be muffled. It makes you wonder how much interior noise is actually heard without the Touring Pack.
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