Lotus Launch The Series Three Elise
The world’s purest performance car, Hethel’s Lotus Elise, is to benefit from a major facelift in time for the Geneva motor show next month.
Lotus has decided to embellish the diminutive sportster with its first significant styling change in seven years. Most of the newfangled design cues are drawn from the company’s larger four-seater coupe – the award-winning Evora.
If you’re an Elise acolyte, you’ll notice the lower nose profile (which is slightly smoothed-off ) and LED daytime running lights embellishing those front headlamps.
Finer detail changes include a greater front grille surface and more voluminous side ducts. A "twin-spine" engine cover runs into the resurfaced aft styling package.
Tallied up, the Elise styling changes herald a four percent gain in aerodynamic efficiency, which means the Elise remains unbeatable when compared with other sportscars on a performance-to-efficiency ratio.
Entry level power is now a 1.6l Toyota engine, replacing the previous 1.8l S. All Elise models below the 200g/CO2 per km threshold.
Return of the entry level Elise
Mechanically the car remains relatively unchanged, with the biggest news being the presence of a smaller third engine option to supplement the 1.8l Toyota that currently powers Elise.
The new engine is - unsurprisingly – also from Toyota and extracted from the Auris range, oddly enough.
Coded internally as 1ZR-FAE, the 1.6l in-line four features a Valvematic system, which manages variable valve lift, and a dual VVT-i set-up. Combined, these continuous valve intake and lift systems ensure perfect intake airflow volumes commensurate to throttle position, which ensures instantaneous engine responses at all crankspeeds.
In terms of output numbers the (curiously) oversquare Toyota engine is hardly a startling performer (100kW/160Nm). Transplanted amidships into the 876kg Elise, it’s sure to guarantee grin-inducing performance though.
The new baseline Elise runs an entirely respectable 0-100km/h time of 6.7 seconds, topping out at 200km/h. Combined consumption economy figures are stunning – 6.14l/100km.
The new, optional, forged wheels are 500g lighter than stock cast items, equating a weight saving of 2kg per set. Wow. In Lotus parlance, every little bit counts though...
SC still there too
Other engine options carried over are the naturally-aspirated and supercharged versions of Toyota’s 1.8l RunX RSi engine.
In Elise R and SC form the performance equation goes from sports- to serious performance car – with the R dropping 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds dead.
If you wish to toy with really expensive German performance cars Elise SC, boasting 4.6 second 0-100km/h sprint credentials, is the ticket.
The entire Elise range shifts via a six-speed manual transmission, with cruise control controversially being an option now…
At least Elise still does without ESP.