Lotus Elise -- Bringing back the fun factor to driving

The Lotus Elise marks a return to roots for the British sports car manufacturer, with a car that is fast, fun to drive and features leading edge technology.

The car remains true to the basic design philosophy established by Lotus founder Colin Chapman for whom light weight, superlative handling and high levels of driver satisfaction were key attributes. The criteria for the Elise concept are:

  • A dramatic, small, simple two seat convertible sports car with timeless looks, performance, safety, and driver satisfaction - "the most fun on four wheels";
  • Performance and efficiency through low weight;
  • Ease of manufacture and assembly, affordable cost of ownership;
  • Development of forward-thinking proven solutions that would also benefit other car-makers.

At the heart of the design is a lightweight, but enormously strong spaceframe chassis constructed from extruded anodised aluminium and bonded together with a special epoxy adhesive. A steel galvanised rear subframe carries a transverse-installed four cylinder 1.8 litre 16-valve Rover K-Series engine The body comprises front and rear clamshell sections in composite.

A vehicle weight of 690kg and a maximum engine output of 88 kW endow the Elise with startling performance. The low bodyweight and consequent high power to weight ratio provides obvious benefits in performance, braking, handling and steering, as well as fuel consumption and emissions levels. Maximum speed is 202km/h (126 mph) and 100km/h (62 mph) is reached from rest in 5.9 seconds, with 160 km/h from rest in 18.0 seconds.

Finely tuned independent suspension system, comprising upper and lower wishbones, co-axial coil springs and inverted monotube dampers help to provide handling performance to match.

But high performance is only one element of the package - the stunning and distinctive appearance of Elise is the work of the Lotus Design team.

The curvaceous shape is not just attractive but also aerodynamically effective, thanks to a package developed in the wind-tunnel which includes chin and tail elements working with an underbody diffuser, in line with current motorsport thinking.

The vehicle layout itself is influenced by motorsport practice, yet is driven by the needs of series-production manufacturing. The interior follows this theme too; for example, the adjustable driver’s seat is nearer the centre-line of the vehicle than the passenger seat, which itself is fixed in the rearmost position. The overall result is a high-performance package with the driving precision of a race-car, the ride and handling for which Lotus is renowned, and a simplicity and ease of manufacture which car-makers require today.

Lotus engineers, working with forward-looking suppliers, have developed a high-strength spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded aluminium extrusions; a first for production road cars. The structure weighs less than 70kg yet meets required safety legislation with excellent durability and torsional rigidity.

The extrusion process is used to produce many other cost-effective and elegant parts, such as the pedals, suspension uprights (both subjects of new Lotus patents), and the side intrusion beams. The drive to apply innovative solutions to achieve light weight has also brought about another first for production cars - the use of aluminium metal matrix composite (MMC) brake discs. This technology has previously only been used on competition cars but is now a production-ready process.

Lotus set a clear objective in briefing engineers and designers: it was essential to create a new Lotus which reflected the genius of Colin Chapman. With Elise, Lotus has once again set new standards for handling, performance and style, with a unique blend of classic and forward thinking features. The team has delivered a real winner, which was created not only with great expertise but also with great passion, ahead of its time and in true Lotus tradition.

The result is an advanced race bred high-performance sports car with distinctive new styling which delivers the most fun on four wheels!

Lotus Elise -- Technical Specifications
Engine: Cylinders 4 in line, mid mounted transversely
Capacity: 1796 cc
Construction: Aluminium engine block with aluminium cylinder head
Power: 88Kw (118bhp) at 5500rpm
Torque: 165Nm (122 lb.ft) at 3000rpm
Bore/Stroke: 80mm / 3.1"/89.3mm / 3.5"
Valve actuation: Double overhead camshaft with hydraulic tappets
Fuelling: Fuel injected
Alternator: 85 A
Ignition: Motorola electronic ignition system
Transmission: Manual 5 speed transaxle driving rear wheels, hydraulic clutch.
Ratios First: 3.167
Second: 1.842
Third: 1.308
Fourth: 1.033
Fifth: 0.765
Reverse: 3.000
Final drive: 3.938
Body: Composite body panels with detachable front and rear "clamshells", integral fixed headlamps.
Chassis: Lotus-designed spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded sections of aluminium extrusions (built by Hydro Aluminium) incorporating integral roll over hoop.
Suspension: Double wishbones with single coil springs over monotube dampers all round. Lotus-patented uprights of extruded aluminium, made by Alusuisse.
Steering: Rack and pinion, non power assisted
Wheels: Unique Lotus-designed 5-spoke, by Alloy Wheels International.
Front: 5J15 Rear: 7J16
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero
Front: 185/55 R15 Rear: 205/50 R16
Brakes: 282 mm diameter aluminium/metal matrix ventilated discs made by Lanxide, mounted outboard.
Non-servo split hydraulic system, including unique Lotus/AP Racing opposed piston front callipers.
Instrumentation: Analogue electronic unit comprising speedometer and tachometer with multifunction LCD readout incorporating fuel and coolant gauges, supplied by Stack Instruments.
Lighting: 6" main beam headlamps. Optional auxiliary driving lamps.
Performance: Maximum speed 202 km/h
100 km/h 5.9 s
160 km/h 18.0 s
Fuel Consumption: (l/100km)
Urban 9.6
Extra urban 5.7
Combined 7.1
Standard equipment: Alloy road wheels (lockable), 3-way catalytic converter,coded signal immobiliser, vinyl hood, unique Lotus/Nardi steering wheel.
Dimensions: Wheel base 2300mm / 90.6"
Front track 1440mm / 56.7"
Rear track 1453mm / 57.2"
Overall length 3726mm / 146.7"
Overall width 1701mm / 67.0" (excluding mirrors)
Overall height 1202mm / 47.3"
Ground clearance 160mm / 6.3"
Fuel tank capacity 40 l / 8.8gal
Fuel grade 95 RON minimum
Unladen weight: 690 kg
Weight distribution: 39/61 (% front/rear)
Warranty: Twelve month unlimited mileage from factory. Aluminium chassis eight year warranty against perforation corrosion.
Servicing: First service 1500 km thereafter 15000 km or annually.

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