Will the Lotus Never Wilt?

Elise header

Of all of the cars out there; Of all of the news that I read; Of all of the gimmicky re-releases; there is one car that I never tire hearing about; the Lotus Elise.

I feel like one of Odysseus’ crew members from the Odyssey. The ones who get caught up with the lotus eaters and never want to leave. That is me. I am a lotus eater. I am high on the Lotus. I just cannot get enough of this stupid looking car, and they just keep getting better.

The Elise premiered in 1995 at the Frankfurt Auto Show and has now been going strong for 12 years. In the US however the Elise has only been on the market for a few years as it was introduced here in the 2005 model year. The Elise is basically a super small, light weight, sports car with a tiny engine and a massive power to weight ratio. It comes standard with a 190hp, 1.8 liter, Toyota engine that has been re-tuned from the ground up by Lotus Engineers. You may remember this motor from every small Toyota that has been built in the last 10 years (omitting the echo). It is the same VVTL-i motor that was housed in the Celica GT-S, Corolla XLR, and the Matrix XLR.

In the Elise you get the same small engine (albeit completely re-tuned), similar horsepower, and it still has the same awful torque numbers as it did in a Toyota (134 lb-ft), but for some reason they make a bit more sense when you talk about a vehicle that weighs less than a ton. For the record you also get the same great fuel economy at 24/29mpg.

Now even though Toyota manufactured the engine components doesn’t really say much about the car. It is the size and the styling that really make it stick out visually, as well as┬áthe handling and speed that make it a world class car to be reckoned with.

Lotus Elise

Since its conception there have been countless versions of this car and even in America we have a few to choose from. Lets see…there is the standard Elise with a base price of $46k and 190 hp, there is the Exige which is a more stylized version of the Elise. There is the Exige S which was never supposed to sell here, but with our love of power they apparently brought it over.

The Exige S is a highly stylized-er (more highly stylized) Elise with a 220hp supercharged engine and a full body kit (as if it needed one). It starts at $60k but for an extra $4k you can get the “Track Pack” with a fully adjustable suspension, as well as throwing in the Limited Slip Differential. This car has a 4.1 second 0-60 time and will finish the quarter mile in 11 seconds flat. As if that were the point. It will also out handle anything you can throw at it (if you don’t believe me, search google for Exige vs Apache).

Exige S

I was showing this car to my wife today and she asked me, “Why don’t more people own these?” The answer is a resounding, “I DON’T KNOW.” I understand that they are small, sparce, and not terribly comfortable. I know that they aren’t cheap, but if I had the money I would choose this over a Porsche Boxter any day.

The fact of the matter is..I wan’t one so bad that it makes my mouth hurt.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Cars with Heritage - The Chevy Corvette — 62mph on 12.18.07 at 3:39 pm

[...] that went into designing, engineering and building this car. It doesn’t make my jaw hurt as Austin so elequently put it (I still haven’t found that car that does) but it is definately near the top of my list of [...]

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