Face-lifted Lotus Elise driven

  • Elise gets a face-lift for 2011 model
  • New 1.6-litre Toyota engine
  • On sale in May
You expect to be going fast in a Lotus, but time travel – surely even they can’t manage that? Well, you’d better believe it because, even though we’re barely past Easter 2010, here is the 2011 Lotus Elise.

Face-lift
The most obvious change is the face-lift that has made Lotus’s best-selling car look more like the recently launched Evora. The company says it gives the car a more aggressive and purposeful look, and it’s all topped off by the latest must-have automotive accessory: daytime LED running lights.

New engine
The Elise also moves from a 1.8-litre engine to a 1.6 unit, which is sourced from Toyota but controlled by Lotus’s own engine management system.

Despite its smaller size, this new engine is as powerful as the one it replaces, and gets the Elise from 0 to 60mph in just 6.0 seconds. It’s also 20% more economical. Average fuel economy is now an impressive 45.0mpg and its CO2 emissions are just 149g/km – figures you’d more readily associate with a supermini than a sports car.

On the road
The key to the more efficient performance is the Elise’s light weight, and that also pays dividends in the way the car drives. On top of the car’s wonderfully stiff body, accurate steering and superbly controlled handling, the result is one of the most enjoyable cars in the UK to drive. Yes, you need to rev the engine hard to get the best from it, but this is a sports car, so that’s all part of the fun. Besides, the new six-speed gearbox has a very slick change.

More photos of the Lotus Elise 2011

> Lotus Elise 1: click to enlarge
> Lotus Elise 2: click to enlarge
> Lotus Elise 3: click to enlarge
> Lotus Elise 4: click to enlarge
> Lotus Elise 5: click to enlarge
> Lotus Elise 6: click to enlarge
Give the engine its head and the car really comes alive – nimble through corners and it changes direction with real keenness. It seems to flow along a typical British B-road, really rewarding a keen driver; and, as it’s able to carry prodigious speed through the bends, you can cover ground at a phenomenal rate. Fortunately, the brakes – which are full of feel, naturally – are more than a match for the performance.

For all that, though, just as remarkable is how easy the Elise is to drive in more mundane circumstances. The engine will pull happily from well below 2000rpm and although the ride is firm, it’s never uncomfortable. For the first time, you can even get options such as cruise control and rear parking sensors.

Any drawbacks?
As ever, the Elise is hardly the most practical of cars, it isn't easy to get into and out of, and you couldn’t accuse the cabin of having even reasonable refinement.

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is the new car’s price: £27,450 for the basic model, to which you’ll probably want to add the Touring Pack and air-conditioning (£2000 and £1000 respectively), both of which make the car a more appealing everyday prospect.

Trouble is, that means a bill of £30,000 or so; and, while the car may feel like a £30,000 car to drive, it certainly doesn’t look like one from the driver’s seat. Plus, you won’t have to dig much deeper to buy a Porsche Boxster.

Price £27,450
On sale May

What Car? says
Still one of the country’s most sensational sports cars


Featured in this story

advertisement

Free car valuations

advertisement