Pride of place in the latest Elise line-up is taken by the new Sprint edition, which offers the latest in efficient engineering to deliver “a car that sets the standard at under 800 kg”.
Featuring a host of weight-saving items as standard, the new Lotus remains true to the company’s founding principles.
Benefitting the range as a whole, all new Elise editions receive the car’s new look and new interior options, and every single one of the Sprint’s lightweight components can be specified on the standard Elise Sport and the Elise Sport 220 variants.
In the biggest weight cut to the car since the introduction of the first-generation Elise, Lotus says it has returned to its roots by employing the same intense engineering strategy as used on its most recent models. The Sprint edition of the Elise has removed 41 kg from the previous model, to reach a benchmark dry weight of just 798 kg.
To date nearly 33,000 examples have been hand built at Lotus’ famous Hethel factory, and the Elise “carries Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s vision of efficient engineering into the future and arrives as the company continues its return to form with its strongest ever line-up of vehicles”.
Integrating a new front and rear aesthetic, this latest Elise also receives a wide range of cabin enhancements – including the lightweight open-gate gear select mechanism that was first introduced on the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The Sprint is available in both the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated and 1.8-litre supercharged versions.
Speaking of the new car, Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc, said: “Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car. Whilst other manufacturers try to keep pace with Lotus’ weight reduction achievements, we’ve raised the bar beyond their reach.
“An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and, it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800 kg barrier.”
Gales continued: “Enhanced by less weight, the Elise now provides even more driving purity, greater agility and higher all-round performance. As we say at Hethel: less weight equals more Lotus.”
Ensuring that this latest Elise remains true to the company’s DNA, the return for the Sprint badge – as used on historic models including the Elan – is designed to provide a super-lightweight option sitting above the respective Elise Sport models, and below the top of the range Elise Cup 250.
The Sprint’s standard lightweight components include a Lithium-Ion battery, saving nine kg, Lotus’ carefully detailed carbon race seats (six kg saved), new lightweight forged alloy wheels (five kg), while the carbon access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, and polycarbonate rear screen save another six kg.
Collectively they cut an impressive 26 kg, compared to the previous Sport and Sport 220 models and, together with the improvements made to the whole Elise range, bring the weight of the new Elise Sprint down to just 798 kg (dry).
This includes new, optional two-piece brake discs, saving four kg, which will be available from May this year and optional carbon sill covers (-0.8 kg). This reduction in weight translates into quicker acceleration (with 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and 4.1 seconds for the Elise Sprint and Elise Sprint 220 respectively), harder cornering and a power to weight ratio of up to 168 hp / tonne (Elise Sprint) and 257 hp / tonne (Elise Sprint 220).
External design touches for the Sprint range include a matt black transom panel, black wheels which come with custom contrasting metal spun rims, distinctive yet subtle side stripes on the bodywork and unique side and rear badging.
As well as a new Elise Sprint edition, the whole of the new Elise line-up benefits from a range of improvements, which includes a 10 kg mass reduction thanks to a number of new components. Changes to the body including a redesigned lightweight front clam panel, with wider radiator apertures and mesh pattern grille provide a more aggressive aspect and 8.7 kg less weight.
The new design of the rear transom panel now has two rear light clusters, rather than four, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard “so reducing weight by 0.3 kg and visually enhancing the rear design”.
Modifications front and back are, says Lotus, “more than skin deep” and have allowed the careful balancing of aerodynamic downforce across the whole car. Rubber elements mounted on the flat underside and ahead of the front wheel, together with an additional diffuser vane at the rear, help to modify airflow under the car, thereby reducing drag and increasing stability.
The open-gate manual gearbox provides a more positive and direct operation – giving quicker and more precise shifting.
The cabin, meanwhile, benefits from a new centre console and optional carbon sill covers which reduce weight by 0.8 kg and increase the door aperture by up to 10 mm, aiding ingress and egress. The Elise’s instrument panel has also received attention, with new graphics making it easier to read, and a new in-car entertainment system, including iPod® connectivity and Bluetooth® functionality.
Both the Sport and Sprint are available in two engine options: the 1.6-litre or the supercharged 1.8-litre. Offering 134 hp / 160 Nm of torque and 217 hp / 250 Nm of torque respectively, they have been specifically tuned to deliver a benchmark power-to-weight ratio and class leading efficiency.
Being so lightweight, emissions are extremely low with 149 g / km CO2 and 173 g / km CO2 for the 1.6 engine and 1.8 engines respectively.
Stopping power is provided by AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembo single-piston rear-calipers. All cars benefit from user-selectable ESP driving modes – Drive / Sport / Off.
The new car carries over the same suspension set-up as before, with fully independent double wishbone suspension and a front anti-roll bar, coupled with Bilstein high-performance gas dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs front and rear.
Deliveries of the new range will start in April.