Lotus Elise review

Category: Sports car

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:petrol
Available colours:
Lotus Elise 2020 rear tracking
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RRP from£41,245
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

At the time of writing, we’ve only sampled the range-topping Cup 250, which, as you might have guessed from its name, is very much designed for track day regulars. But don’t go thinking that this is a car that only works at Brands Hatch or Oulton Park. Oh no. 

It might not be the quietest or most refined road car in the world (there’s plenty of wind and road noise at speed), but by virtue of its light weight the Elise is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre at lower speeds – despite not having power steering – and a breeze to get off the line. By sports car standards, 245bhp might not sound like masses of power, but because it weighs just 931kg, it can accelerate from 0-60mph in under four seconds. That’s quicker than both the Alpine A110S and Porsche 718 Boxster S.

Of course, Lotus’s decision to fully embrace Colin Chapman’s famous maxim about adding lightness benefits the car in many more areas beside, not least in enabling its suspension to pull off a remarkable trick. It can provide exceptional body control – impressive enough to make a standard Alpine A110 feel a little baggy and wayward by comparison – while also providing an impressively compliant ride. It’s a trick that the Elise excels at and one that allows you to cover an immense amount of ground very quickly.

The Cup 250 also sets new standards for cars of this type when it comes to grip; thanks to its sticky Yokohama tyres and massive downforce-generating wings (at the car’s top speed, the aero kit produces a claimed 148kg of downforce, or around the same weight as two burly bouncers sitting at either end of the car). No matter how technical the road is, once you have heat in the tyres, you never have to worry about the car getting unsettled. Of course, if you prefer a car that you can feel moving around beneath you, an Alpine A110S is a better bet, but the Cup 250’s accuracy is massively rewarding  point-to-point. 

On top of this, its steering is more communicative than the average after-dinner speaker, and its powerful AP Racing brakes are a perfect match for the pace. And because the Cup 250 is so light (for anyone counting, we’ve mentioned that it’s light three times now), you can use the brakes hard all day without them ever overheating or losing their bite.

Lotus Elise 2020 rear tracking

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