AS iconic British car maker Lotus prepares for the 70th anniversary of when founder Colin Chapman built his first car in 1948, the company is unveiling what it calls “the ultimate Elise”.
Rare and race-bred, the extreme limited-edition Lotus Elise Cup 260 packs Lotus’ passion for motorsport engineering into “one of the most accomplished cars it has ever produced”.
Taking what’s widely regarded as the benchmark for intuitive handling and driver involvement, Lotus has integrated some of the latest design philosophies from high-performance stablemates including the Exige Cup 380, and the mighty Evora GT430, as well as building upon the track and competition only Elise Race 250.
Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc said: “Our philosophy for producing extraordinary vehicles is world-famous, but the new Elise Cup 260 goes beyond what many believed possible from our smallest car.
It is directly developed from the Elise race cars that are competing in series around the world, giving the ultimate Elise experience on the road.
More power, motorsport components and the introduction of aerodynamics unheard of in its class make driving this Elise an unrivalled experience.”
Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin and Director of Classic Team Lotus, said: “Each and every one of the sports cars produced by Group Lotus today carries the true spirit of Lotus, laid down by my father nearly 70 years ago. I am extremely proud that his legacy and achievements are being acknowledged and celebrated in this iconic version of the Elise.”
Using a blend of exotic and lightweight materials, the Elise Cup 260 is, says Lotus, “considerably greater than the sum of its parts”.
Building on the production Elise Cup 250 released earlier this year, and drawing heavily on the development the motorsport Elise Race 250, the Elise Cup 260’s performance comes from a combination of intelligent engineering and advanced aerodynamics as well as a boost in engine performance.
Not only is it the lightest ever Elise Cup, it’s also the heaviest at speed – with the car’s design and aero configuration generating up to 180 kg of downforce at 151 mph. Key to this high level of downforce are the new louvred front wheel-arch vents, lightweight carbon fibre front splitter and wide, high mounted rear wing. The car includes nearly all of the lightweight Elise Cup options as standard, ranging from the sill covers, roll hoop cover, front access panel and engine cover (which are all in carbon) to the two-piece brake discs.
The race chassis developed by Lotus Motorsport also has two way adjustable Nitron dampers – fitted to an Elise for the first time – and a polycarbonate backlight glass as well as hand-trimmed interior with bespoke detailing.
Delivering 250 hp from the supercharged engine, which has been designed to make the most of the exceptionally stiff extruded and bonded aluminium chassis, the Elise Cup 260 boasts “phenomenal straight-line speed, agile handling and, with the significant downforce available and the wider, road-legal motorsport tyres, harder and faster cornering”.
The Elise Cup 260 is 15 kg lighter than the Elise Cup 250, weighing in at just 902 kg (unladen) and 862 kg in the lightest possible dry configuration.
The all-alloy, chargecooled supercharged 1.8-litre engine has undergone development, with new induction components and revised calibration. Delivering 250 hp and 255 Nm of torque it is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with sports ratios. Overall, the fall in mass and rise in power boosts acceleration, with 0-60 mph dispatched in 3.8 seconds and a power to weight ratio of 290 hp / tonne (dry).
Emissions figures are also impressive, at 175 g / km CO2.
The car features fully independent double wishbone suspension with an adjustable front anti-roll bar, with Nitron coaxial coil springs and, for the first time on an Elise, adjustable Nitron high-performance dampers. With 24 settings for rebound and compression, the dampers “allow owners to perfectly dial-in the car’s setup to their preference”.
As standard, the 260 comes with ultra-lightweight motorsport forged alloy wheels (16-inch at the front and 17-inch at the rear) which are fitted with Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tyres (205/45 R16 front & 235/40 R17 rear) that have been specifically developed for high performance track and road use.
10 mm wider front and rear than the tyres fitted to the Elise Cup 250, they provide the mechanical grip necessary to exploit the power and downforce the car generates. Braking is provided by AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembo at the rear.
The interior bears testament to the car’s hand-built nature, with the manual gearbox’s open gate mechanism providing precise and direct gear changes for quicker shifting as well as being visually pleasing.
The finish of Lotus’ in-house manufactured carbon race seats, trimmed in black Alcantara® with contrasting red or yellow stitching, is echoed by the door panels and face-level vents, while colour inserts for the seats, transmission console, HVAC surround and window switches are complemented by the cabin’s exposed aluminium and carbon fibre elements including a new carbon fibre instrument binnacle cover.
Summing up the new Lotus, Gales said: “As we near the 70th anniversary of the inception of Colin Chapman’s engineering legacy, it’s only right that we build the very best cars as special editions, and the Elise Cup 260 is certainly worthy of that accolade. Our special editions have always proved extremely popular with our customers around the world, and we know they value the extensive development work that goes into each one. With just 30 examples to be built, there’s no doubt that the Elise Cup 260 is a future classic.”
In the UK the price is £59,500, while in Europe it will be about €76,000.