Lotus Elise review

Category: Sports car

Section: Costs & verdict

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Lotus Elise 2020 gear selector
Add to shortlist
  • Lotus Elise 2020 front cornering
  • Lotus Elise 2020 rear tracking
  • Lotus Elise 2020 dashboard
  • Lotus Elise 2020 seats
  • Lotus Elise 2020 gear selector
  • Lotus Elise 2020 front static
  • Lotus Elise 2020 rear static
  • Lotus Elise 2020 boot
  • Lotus Elise 2020 front cornering
  • Lotus Elise 2020 rear tracking
  • Lotus Elise 2020 dashboard
  • Lotus Elise 2020 seats
  • Lotus Elise 2020 gear selector
  • Lotus Elise 2020 front static
  • Lotus Elise 2020 rear static
  • Lotus Elise 2020 boot
RRP from£41,245
Share review

Costs & verdict

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

While we’re yet to sample the entry-level Sport 220, there’s no doubt that it’s competitively priced by sports car standards; it undercuts both the base Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Boxster. Meanwhile, the track focused Cup 250 carries quite a serious price tag, but is still a few thousand pounds cheaper than an A110S or Boxster S. 

Of course, those cars come more generously equipped, have plusher interiors and more luggage capacity, but as we mentioned at the start of this review, the Elise’s main appeal lies in its narrow focus. It’s also worth pointing out that all its rivals are fairly unique and offer vastly different driving experiences, so it’s difficult to compare them on equal terms. 

The best advice we can give you is to enter Elise ownership with your eyes wide open, knowing that you will need to make a few sacrifices if you want to experience one of the most invigorating and involving sports cars currently on the market. In terms of running costs, we’d expect the cost of consumables, such as tyres and brakes, to be fairly high, especially if you plan on venturing onto a track. And while you’ll probably manage close to 35mpg at a cruise, if you plan on exercising your right foot (and why wouldn’t you?) you can expect those numbers to drop significantly. 

Happily, the Cup 250 has quite strong residual values, depreciating at a slower rate than a 718 Boxster S. And while Lotus cars of old had a reputation for being fragile, the Elise blows that right out of the water. Its plastic composite body is tough as old boots and the aluminium chassis has proved to be rugged. Both engines should be bullet-proof, too.

The Elise comes with an alarm and immobiliser as standard, while on the safety side, you get driver and passenger airbags, plus anti-lock brakes and traction control. 

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Lotus Elise 2020 gear selector

Overview

By delivering one of the best driving experiences available, at any cost, the Elise highlights just how overweight and oversized some sports cars are. Of course, refinement and accessibility let it down a bit, but these are minor niggles compared to the fun of driving the thing. Put simply, if you’re looking for pure, undiluted driving pleasure, then the Elise is still king.

  • Fantastic to drive
  • Delicious steering
  • Stunning grip
  • Lots of wind and engine noise
  • Poorly equipped
  • Difficult to get in and out of

Also consider

BMW Z4

2019 - present

Comfortable and practical, but an Audi TT Roadster and Po...

Mercedes E 63 AMG

2020 - present

Tremendously quick and amazing fun, thanks to its fabulou...

Porsche 718 Cayman

2016 - present

A joy to drive and beautifully built – it’s one of the best sp...

Porsche 718 Boxster

2016 - present

Sensational to drive and beautifully built – one of the best o...