As many British independent companies do, Lotus had its ups and downs, but what can’t be denied is that the Lotus Elise was one of the company’s highest points and most revered products.

Developed under ownership of the genius Romano Artioli and named after his beloved granddaughter, the Elise brought Lotus back to its old ways, offering an immersive, thrilling ride in a simple and light package.

Quick Overview of the Lotus Elise & Its Legacy

During its production span, the Elise evolved from a bare-bones, fully analog featherweight into a less light, slightly more complicated car—but what made it so great is that it never lost its original spirit in the process. For twenty five years, the Elise was a backbone for the company, and now it’s time for it to step down for the Lotus Emira, the Hethel-based automaker’s final internal combustion sports car.

Even more, the Elise platform spawned a number of offspring. First, there were the in-house derivatives, the Exige and the Europa S. While the latter was a comfier Elise with little to none significance to the brand, the Exige was a closed-top, track-focused Elise that evolved into a V6-powered sports car in its Series 3 phase (while also serving as a foundation for the record shattering Hennessey Venom GT).

Among the none-Loti bunch, there was also its GM stablemate the Opel Speedster and the utterly bonkers Rinspeed sQuba underwater car inspired by the 007 universe. The little Lotus went electric too, being a donor car for the Tesla Roadster, as well the failed Detroit Electric SP.01 and the forgotten Dodge Circuit concept too.

Our Top 10 Lotus Elise Cars Ever

As we bid farewell to the car that defined the modern Lotus and helped shape the sports car world as well, let’s take a look at ten greatest Lotus Elises ever built. Here we go!

#1: 1996 Lotus Elise

Yellow 1996 Lotus Elise on road

Yellow 1996 Lotus Elise on road

The inaugural Elise had its teething issues and was modestly powered with just 118 ponies from the 1.8-liter Rover K-Series engine, but nothing beats the original, right? The Elise took the automotive world by storm with Julian Thomson and Richard Rackham’s brave, instantly lovable design and simplicity that contributed to its immersive driving experience.

Tipping the scales at just 1,598 lb, the Elise brought Lotus back to Colin Chapman’s “simplify, then add lightness” philosophy it steered away from during the 1980s. Its featheriness gave the Elise formidable straight line performance, while a well-balanced rigid aluminum chassis granted it phenomenal cornering capabilities.

Needless to say, the Elise was an instant hit in Europe—and now that it’s turned 25, the original Elise could be brought to the US too.

#2: Lotus Elise 111S

Green Lotus Elise 111S being driven on road

Green Lotus Elise 111S being driven on road

For those who found the base model underpowered, Lotus introduced the Elise 111S in 1999.

This variant was named after the Elise’s internal name and as the original car, it was powered by a 1.8-liter Lotus K-Series, but this time upgraded with variable valve timing technology, giving the featherweight a bump to 143 horsepower. Moreover, the original 111S also got shorter gear ratios and uprated brakes, improving both straight line acceleration and all-round performance.

Lotus carried over the 111S badge for the revised, upgraded, and GM-backed Series 2 Elise that appeared in 2000. In addition to the new chassis and improved safety, the Series 2 111S benefited from a retuned 1.8-liter K-Series with a power output of 160 horsepower compared to 120 ponies in the standard version.

#3: Lotus Elise Type 49

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By: Djordje Sugaris
Title: The Top 10 Lotus Elise Cars In History
Sourced From:
Published Date: Sun, 09 Jan 2022 07:56:13 +0000

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