What Car? says...
The Lotus Elise is a fine example of how to build a back-to-basics sports car with a stiff aluminium chassis and lightweight composite body.
As it marks its quarter century (and last year in production) with the Sport 240 Final Edition, it's tempting to point out that the Elise's basic architecture has remained unchanged for the better part of a decade. That would be missing the point, though – the beauty of this car has always been its simplicity.
While other manufacturers have caved into various pressures and made their sports cars more ‘usable’, adding sat-nav, electric seats, driving assistance systems and other tech, Lotus has opted to remain distinctly old school.
In fact, for driving enthusiasts, the fact that the Elise is focused on one thing and one thing only – delivering the ultimate driving experience – is to be applauded. So, too, is the fact that its existence means you can buy a new sports car with a kerb weight comfortably under one tonne.
Even its engine line-up is simple, with just two specifications available. The more road-biased Sport 240 uses a supercharged 240bhp four-cylinder 1.8-litre engine and is capable of 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds. It’s no slouch, and is a natural rival for the Alpine A110 and the entry-level four-cylinder Porsche 718 Boxster.
The Cup 250 is an even more serious bit of kit. It uses the same 1.8-litre engine but tuned to 245bhp which, combined with a stiffer chassis, more aggressive aerodynamics and firmer suspension, makes it something of a track-day beast.
To give both Elise variants their full titles, they are the Sport 240 Final Edition and the Cup 250 Final Edition. As the name suggests, it's very nearly the end of the road for the Lotus Elise. After 25 years as one of Britain’s most-loved purist cars, it is only on sale for the remaining months of 2021.
This is your last chance to buy a new one, then, so read on over the next few pages of this review to get our in-depth impressions of the dainty Lotus. We'll tell you what it’s like to drive and own, and how it stacks up against the sports car opposition.
Remember, if you're buying a new vehicle of any make and model, you can save yourself thousands by checking out the prices on the free What Car? New Car Buying service, which has some tempting Lotus Elise Deals to peruse.
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