There isn’t much to Lotus’ latest Elise model, and that’s what makes the veritable lightweight worthy of attention.
The hand built Lotus Elise Sprint tips the scales at just 798 kg, thanks to extended use of carbon fibre. But its also distinctive in its front and rear exterior design, and significant interior upgrades, including the open-gate shifter borrowed from the Exige Sport 350, which also takes away a kg in weight. Among the distinctive exterior cues are a matte black transom panel, black wheels with contrasting metal spun rims, subtle side stripes on the bodywork and unique side and rear badging.
Inside, owners get colour inserts for the sports seats, transmission console and HVAC surround, along with Sprint script stitching, optional Alcantara trim panels on the doors, sills, seats and vents surrounds, all with contrasting stitching. And it also benefits from all the current-day connectivity boosts.
“Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car. Whilst other manufacturers try to keep pace with Lotus’ weight reduction achievements, we’ve raised the bar beyond their reach,” enthused Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc. “An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and. It is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800-kg barrier. Enhanced by less weight, the Elise now provides even more driving purity, greater agility and higher all-round performance. As we say at Hethel: less weight equals more Lotus.”
It starts with the Lotus bonded aluminum chassis that weight just 68 kg, then adds lightweight components such as a lithium-Ion battery (which saves 9 kg from a comparable Sport model), redesigned front clam panel with mesh grille and wider air openings (8.7), carbon race seats (6 kg), forged alloy wheels (5 kg), and carbon access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, new rear light clusters, and polycarbonate rear screen (6.3 kg, combined), as well as optional two-piece brake discs (saving 4 kg) and optional carbon sill covers (-0.8 kg).
The modifications also balance the aerodynamic downforce, and it all adds up to quicker acceleration (with 0-100 km/h times of low 6 seconds and about 4.5 for the Elise Sprint 220 respectively), and increased stability. The suspension remains an independent 4-corner double wishbone setup, with front anti-roll bar, and all cars get driver-selectable driving modes — Drive, Sport and Off
Power is provided by either a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder (134 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque) or a 1.8-litre supercharged “four” (217 and 184, respectively), whose exhaust note has been tuned to make what Lotus calls the best sounding 4-cylinder car in the market.
It’s available to order right now with deliveries starting at the beginning of April 2017. Its looks and lightweight components will also be used in the Elise Sport and Elise 220.