Normally entry level models are the duller and less exciting of model ranges, but when talking about Lotus and the Elise range even the entry level model is bound to offer more fun and thrills than a nightclub full of attractive singles dosed to the eyes with Viagra. The S maybe the all-new entry level model but it still manages to deliver one of, if not the, best performance experience on the road for less than 40k. The sheer agility of the tiny little 2 seat rocket is however unrivalled and ensures that you'll be sticking to the road without compromise in any corner or bend that you encounter.
Practicality… Erm it isn't, not in any way shape or form could the Elise be consider an everyday car, but then it isn't meant to be, it's meant to be fun and turn your knuckles an unattractive shade of white, which it does and very well. If its a fun and not to expensive sexy little road going race car you seek, then you need to drive the S because even at entry level is a great car that wont disappoint.
SPECIAL EDITION SPORTS RACER
So how can you improve on perfection I hear you all cry (but in a manly deep voice, not a girly holler). Well when Simon arranged my tour of the Lotus manufacturing site he also arranged a takeaway for me and by this I don't mean a Chinese. Sat waiting in the car park all day was a very special car, I was going to get my hands on 1 of 199 limited edition Lotus Elise Sports Racers, dressed in Ardent Red with a white 60's style racing triple stripe running over the top it just screams "Sports Car coming through", it's also available in Nightfall Blue with a double white stripe.
So with the tour over and with me rubbing my hands in glee, Simon gave me the key and requested kindly that I bring it and myself back in one piece, well if ever there was a great way to test drive a car it's driving it from Norfolk to Soho then Soho to Cheltenham, I spent over 6 hours in the Sports Racer coming home and I loved every minute of it.
For some reason the special edition paintwork and the removable hardtop (standard on the Sports Racer) totally changes the look for the car, it apparently no longer even resembles a Lotus Elise, we parked in Soho for a quick photo shoot and on several occasions I was complimented on my beautiful Ferrari, I was also asked if it was a new Lamborghini yet to be released and one woman even asked if it was the new 350Z. Having finished the photo shoot and casually partaking in a quick Latte before setting off for the long drive home, I happened to glace out of the window of Balan's to see an orderly queue of camera phones forming to take pictures of the Sports Racer.
It's not just the outside that gets a makeover, inside the leather seats are hand stitched to match whichever colour scheme you've chosen, , the head rests also have the Elise logo emblazoned on them in the same colour, electric windows, DAB radio and front driving lamps are all standard kit alongside the LED rear lights which not only illuminate 2 tenths of a second quicker (or one Elise car length if you prefer to think of the distance the car behind will travel in the time between you pushing the brake pedal down and the time the brake lights activate) but are also 36% brighter than standard filament bulbs.
So it's fair to say the Sports Racer commands attention, in fact it's head turning neck snapping abilities are unquestionable, but is it still an Elise under the 60's Retro camouflage, well fundamentally yes, but it's loaded with added extra's and they make a hell of a difference, because the Sports Racer standard spec includes both the Touring and Sports option packs, you get a whole new setup to that of the standard Elise, ultra light-weight 7-twin spoked forged alloy wheels (saving 1.2kg of unsprung weight per corner), up-rated Eibach springs and stiffer Bilstein dampers, twin oil coolers, and switchable Lotus Traction Control, which activates at 5mph and works through the engine, reducing power when required to maintain traction, it operates much quicker than many brake based systems and not once did it take anything away from my driving experience as so many traction control systems do, but then that's the whole Lotus philosophy, fun to drive with great ride and handling. The other big thing that separates the Sports Racer from the standard Elise is its use a new lighter weight pedal box with forged steel pedal arms and extruded aluminium pads. This new unit, which is lighter than the previous extruded aluminium unit has an electronic throttle for quicker and smoother engine response, reduced brake pedal ratio and improved pedal feel for the brake and throttle. All three pedals are better positioned and improved "heel to toe" brake and throttle control on downshifts and the difference between the two different boxes is very noticeable, everything feels quicker and gives more feedback than previously. It's no quicker than the standard Elise, it's still got the same Toyota 1.8 VVTL-i engine and it'll still do 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds / 0-100mph in 13 seconds and it'll just as fuel efficient as the standard Elise returning 32.1 mpg (combined)
It's a beautiful car to look at, drive, be driven in and to have just sat on the drive, it's got no boot whatsoever, it's totally impractical if you're taller than 6ft 2, it's a bitch to get in and out of and I love it!