Why You Should Own a Lotus Elise Sports Car
Any true car enthusiast should own a Lotus Elise Sports Car at least once in their lifetime.
A lot has already been written about the Lotus Elise sports car over the years after it’s introduction in 1996 where it took the automotive world by storm with its revolutionary Formula 1 inspired design ideas and simple approach to driving purity.
The Lotus Elise sports car is a two-seat, rear-wheel drive, mid-engined roadster that was conceived initially in early 1994 by the British manufacturer Lotus Cars. The Elise has a fibreglass body shell on a bonded extruded aluminium chassis that provides an incredibly rigid platform for the suspension, while keeping weight and production costs to a minimum. It is capable of speeds up to 240 km/h although outright pace isn’t the main attraction.
As soon as you open the door (depending on the model) you are greeted to an interior that has all the essentials needed for driving. For many there will be two things that stand out immediately, a ‘real’ manual gearbox and a driving position that is almost like you are lying down, just like a real formula race car. Although it isn’t until you grab the steering wheel and point the car into a corner do you get to feel every little bump and ripple through your backside and your fingertips.
There are not many modern sports cars that give you the same sense of driving with its tactile, direct responses that enable you to feel everything. It is why it should be on the list of every car enthusiasts ‘must own before I die’ top 10 sports cars.
This sports car photography session was taken in Sydney for a Lotus Elise Sports 220.
Does a Lotus Elise have Manual Gearbox?
The Lotus Elise sports car is one of the few remaining vehicles available for purchase around the world that still has a traditional manual gearbox. Older models have a sloppy 5 speed although more modern versions like the one in the Elise Sport 220 have a 6 speed gearbox with an incredible open gate design. It has a solid feel with a satisfying metallic clunk everytime you change gears. The driving pedals are spaced close together for those that can heel / toe and it just adds to the sports car purity.
Is a Lotus Elise Reliable & cost effective for servicing.
The Lotus Elise sports car is often criticised for not having a 'Lotus' branded engine. Although if you look back at Formula 1, go-karting, Le Mans or even Indycar you will see a long history of chassis manufacturers using engines from specialist providers. Earlier models used a Rover K Series engine which had its fair share of reliability issues, although by moving to Toyota sourced components it meant Lotus could offer owners a reliable ownership experience. It means servicing, parts, upgrades and maintenance has reasonable costs compared to the likes of Ferrari, Porsche or BMW for example.
The weight of a typical sports car is 1,200 - 1,500kgs depending on model and manufacturer. A Lotus Elise Sport 220 weighs less just 924kgs. The lack of weight, combined with the race-car like chassis and suspension configuration means a Lotus Elise not only handles like no other sports car, but has benefits when it comes to durability and performance too. For track day enthusiasts it means less wear on brakes, bearings, wheel hubs, disc pads and other areas that, over time, can save a fortune in servicing and replacement parts. The way Lotus has achieved this is to forget about all the stuff you don't really need while making sure the essentials are right like the driving position.
Is a Lotus Elise a sports car or supercar?
Even though the general look of a Lotus Elise has been around for more than 20 years, it is testament to its original design that it still has supercar looks by today's standards. The most obvious thing that creates attention is its diminutive size, smaller than a Fiat 500. So while it has the looks to turn heads, every element has a purpose that is focussed on delivering performance like the completely flat floor helping its aerodynamics (just like racing cars)
What engine does a Lotus Elise use?
The Lotus Elise has a purpose built, 1.8-litre supercharged (and charge cooled on some variants) engine & driveline sourced from Toyota. It's a sports car that is rear wheel drive, mid-engined with a lightweight chassis with up to 250 horsepower from the factory in Hethel. With its low kerb weight and stiff aluminium chassis it is a high performance sports car that packs a punch unlike any competitor. That's even before modifications are made with things like larger supercharger, exhaust system etc.
What is the lightest rear wheel drive sports car?
There are a lot of manufacturers that claim to have a high performance sports car in their range. Although do you notice none of them promote or mention how heavy their vehicle is? So what is common practice is pretty imagery, horsepower claims and technology advancements, although one of the fundamentals to performance is a power to weight ratio and this can drastically alter how well a sports car performs on the road or track. When comparing a few makes and models you can see a Lotus is 200-400kgs lighter than most other comparable 'sports cars'
Lotus Elise – 220 horsepower / 904 kgs
Porsche Boxter – 300 horsepower / 1,685 kgs
Toyota 86 – 210 horsepower / 1,298 kgs
BMW M2 – 365 horsepower / 1,652 kgs
Toyota Supra – 335 horsepower / 1,541 kgs
Mazda MX5 – 181 horsepower / 1,058 kgs
Subaru WRX – 310 horsepower / 1,538 kgs
VW Golf GTi – 240 horsepower / 1,377 kgs
One of the things many people don't consider when they buy a sports car is what can they do with it other than driving around the streets of Sydney. Lotus has a very strong enthusiast community that regularly participate in track days, Targa Rallys and other competitive or social motorsport outings. The group of people are all quite humble and enjoy a common love of driving and enjoying the purity that comes with owning a Lotus sports car. Much like the cars themselves the community has a simple focus on enjoying driving experience with like minded enthusiasts..
Australian Lotus sports car communities
There are lots of Australian based communities and activities for Lotus sports car owners
Lotus sports car reviews from owners
Here are some examples of the reaction a Lotus sports car can create amongst owners.
“THESE CARS ARE ABSOLUTELY INSANE. IF YOU WANT A TOTALLY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE TO DRIVING A CAR (WITHOUT ANY OF THE UNNECESSARY “EXTRAS” THAT CARS COME WITH THESE DAYS), THEN TRY A LOTUS. I GUARANTEE YOU’LL BE HOOKED. I GENUINELY THOUGHT I WAS HAPPY WITH MY CAR … UNTIL I FELT WHAT LOTUS WERE CAPABLE OF – BEFORE LONG I WAS TRADING MY CAR IN FOR A NEW LOTUS. I RECOMMEND ANYONE CONSIDERING A PERFORMANCE CAR TO TEST DRIVE A LOTUS … HAND ME THE KEYS TO ANY OTHER CAR AND I WOULD GLADLY HAND BACK THE KEYS AND STATE: “NO, THANKS, THAT’S NOT NECESSARY”
Adam.R, Lotus Exige Sport 350
“ALIVE! THAT’S HOW I FEEL WHEN I STRAP MYSELF INTO MY ELISE. DRIVING A LOTUS IS AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE, AND I LOVE THE TACTILE SIGNALS…”
David Allan, Lotus Elise 2010 Club Racer
“I LOVE DRIVING MY LOTUS , I FEEL VERY PROUD AND PRIVILEGED TO OWN ONE . THE ADMIRATION AND GLANCES SHE GETS IS GREAT . THIS IS MY THIRD LOTUS AND THE ONLY MAKE OF CAR I WOULD CHOICE TO DRIVE.”
Teresa Priestly, Lotus Elise S
“A SINGLE WORD TO DESCRIBE MY ELISE WOULD BE ‘PURITY.’ NO ‘AIDS’ OR ‘ASSITANCE’ OF ANY KIND DIUTING MY EXPERIENCE, INPUT YIELDS IMMEDIATE, UNFILTERED OUTPUT.”
Tristan Atkins, Lotus Elise 1997 Series 1
“DRIVE ANY LOTUS AND IT WILL SURPRISE YOU. DRIVE IT HARD AND YOU WILL SURPRISE YOURSELF. NO OTHER BRAND INVOLVES THE DRIVER LIKE LOTUS AND YOU WILL FEEL LIKE A HERO, SMILING ALL THE WAY.”
Michael.M, Lotus Elise, Exige & 340R
“IT DOESN’T PANDER TO YOUR NEEDS, IT’S A CAR FOR THE DRIVER. I THINK THE ELISE HAS EVOLVED QUITE A BIT SINCE MY S1 ROLLED OFF THE PRODUCTION LINE IN 1997, BUT I’M HAPPY WITH MINE JUST THE WAY IT IS. IT’S UNCIVILIZED, AND I LOVE IT.”
Rob, Lotus Elise S1 1997
What is driving a Lotus sports car like?
A K Morris helps to articulate what it means to drive and even own a Lotus Elise.
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