You expect to be going fast in a Lotus, but time travel surely even they cant manage that? Well, youd better believe it because, even though were barely past Easter 2010, here is the 2011 Lotus Elise.
The most obvious change is the face-lift that has made Lotuss best-selling car look more like the recently launched Evora. The company says it gives the car a more aggressive and purposeful look, and its all topped off by the latest must-have automotive accessory: daytime LED running lights.
The Elise also moves from a 1.8-litre engine to a 1.6 unit, which is sourced from Toyota but controlled by Lotuss 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. Its also 20% more economical. Average fuel economy is now an impressive 45.0mpg and its CO2 emissions are just 149g/km figures youd more readily associate with a supermini than a sports car.
On the road
The key to the more efficient performance is the Elises light weight, and that also pays dividends in the way the car drives. On top of the cars 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 thats all part of the fun. Besides, the new six-speed gearbox has a very slick change.
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 its 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, its never uncomfortable. For the first time, you can even get options such as cruise control and rear parking sensors.
As ever, the Elise is hardly the most practical of cars, it isn't easy to get into and out of, and you couldnt accuse the cabin of having even reasonable refinement.
Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is the new cars price: £27,450 for the basic model, to which youll 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 doesnt look like one from the drivers seat. Plus, you wont have to dig much deeper to buy a Porsche Boxster.
What Car? says
Still one of the countrys most sensational sports cars
On sale May