2012 Lotus Elise S review

* 2012 Lotus Elise S driven * New 217bhp supercharged engine * On sale now, from 32,600...

03 May 2012

2012 Lotus Elise S review

The 2012 Lotus Elise S is the latest supercharged version of the Lotus Elise roadster - it replaces the Elise SC, which was phased out in 2011.

A new supercharger gives the Elise S more torque than its predecessor, developing 184lb ft instead of 156lb ft. Power output remains the same at 217bhp, but CO2 emissions have dropped from 199g/km to 175g/km. Average fuel economy is 4.3mpg better at 37.5mpg.

Prices start at 36,200, which is an 8100 premium over the entry-level Elise and 8700 more than the stripped-out Elise CR model.

Whats the 2012 Lotus Elise S like to drive?
As ever, the Elise is an absolute hoot to drive and this new version provides a welcome boost in mid-revs shove.

As a 0-60mph figure of 4.2 seconds suggests, the Elise S is startlingly quick, and although the engine doesnt really get into its stride until higher revs, theres plenty of pace whenever you put your foot down.

Engine apart, there are no other changes compared with the SC. The Elise remains one of the most engaging and rewarding cars to drive, with incredibly agile handling, lots of grip and steering that feeds everything back through the wheel.

Our test drive was limited to a few laps of the Lotus test track at Hethel, but it was enough to suggest that the tweaks have done nothing to damage the Elises blend of sharp handling and impressive ride comfort.

The Elises directness remains part of its appeal, but rivals such as the Mazda MX-5 provide similar fun without the rough edges. In particular, the Elises gearshift needs a firm hand and the steering is heavy at parking speed. Theres also a lot of engine, wind and road noise in the cabin, even at fairly low speeds.

Whats the 2012 Lotus Elise S like inside?
Theres not a lot inside the Elises cabin, but what there is remains functional rather than appealing. Little has changed since the launch of the 2002 model, so the switchgear now looks dated. Everything feels built to withstand hard use, but the exposed construction and rough-and-ready materials are at odds with a car that costs roughly the same as (just 1389 less than) the cheapest Porsche Boxster.

A fixed steering wheel and seat back mean the driving position isnt for everyone, either, and access is as tricky as ever, due to the low seats and wide sill.

Should I buy one?
At 36,200, the Elise S provides a useful boost in power over the standard Elise, for an extra 8100. Running costs are lower than you might think, thanks to an official average of 37.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 175g/km.

The Elise S gives you a lot of performance and fun for the money. Rivals such as the Mazda MX-5 are more well-rounded and cost considerably less to buy, however, and its hard to ignore the appeal of the similarly-priced Porsche Boxster.

Mazda MX-5
Porsche Boxster

What Car? says

Leo Wilkinson