By Ashley Hollebone
The New Lotus Elise 1.6
- Lotus have launched an new entry level, face lifted Elise. Designed to be frugal with a planet saving ethos.
What happens when your dream car is about as much a reality as bumping into Lady Ga Ga in Tescos? Well it just becomes something you think about when you feel you need to escape the boundaries of your every day life. Not a bad a thing I guess, it gives us all goals and a place to aim.
Now let me ask another question. What if your dream car could actually become a part of your lifestyle? without you having to sell your organs. And no Lady Ga Ga won't be a part of this. Sports cars are designed to be lusted after, to be sexy and admired with their sweeping curves, powerful engines and exclusive price tags. On the subject of change, sports cars and the word 'affordable' don't tend to go in the same sentence, unless we're talking about old classics.
I'm not talking about a rusty old MGB but still an iconic British sportscar. The Lotus Elise. Now in its 15th. year of production the titchy fibre glass sports car offers an eco alternative to its pedigree of superb handling, race breed roadsters. The Lotus is made in Norwich, the same place as Turnips and Mustard.
This is the new entry level Elise, powered by its smallest engine yet. A 1.6 litre Toyota unit, coupled with a new 6 speed gearbox. This car is all about economy and at £27,000 offers supercar looks for sales rep saloon money. Now for the part that appeals to me. 56 mpg is impressive and must be considered a huge attraction with its 500 mile range. The team at Lotus have nick named this car the 149 due to its low emission output of 149g of Co2 per Km. I just think it's a nice way of saying 'yes we have the worlds most eco friendly petrol powered sports car. With the confidence of a reliable Japanese powerplant the Elise is kind of in its little world. Of course there are rival brands and models to consider but all of these lack the little Lotus's charm, lines and stunning drive. Don't think that the small engine makes the Lotus experience any less either. It doesn't. It will reach 60 mph in just 6 seconds and is capable of making you grin with ease. This new Elise handles, grips and snoggs the road like a teenage love affair, you could almost forgive yourself to think that winding roads and bends were designed 100 years ago as these industrial pioneers knew that someday a car would be built to drive around them without almost flat out.
However as much as I love this car, I feel I must say that it's not perfect. The indicator stalks are still sourced from the Vauxhall Senator parts bin which I feel could at least have used the Ford set up from the Lotus Evora or why not a nice set of their own? I understand that this car is all about economy but if you close your eyes and fire the engine up you would think you are in a Toyota Avensis, one of the dullest machines on the road. Such a disappointing engine sound, however this changes when you drive the Elise. Once taken past a certain engine rev limit a second camshaft opens up, producing a much satisfying deeper engine tone whilst aiding the power. I can't winge about the boring engine sound on this new Elise, if they had added a sporty exhaust system then the emissions would have been higher and thus taking the whole point away of this car. If you want that then get the next model up or better still an Evora if you have the money. The Elise is a car for anyone, it's at home in a supermarket car park as it would be with a WAG. Qwerky, iconic and owned by many celebrities including Jay Lo, Jennifer Lopez or what ever she wants to call herself. Oh and one other thing.. dead flies on the windscreen. Both of which will put everyone off wanting to buy a Lotus Elise. Not bad if that's all I can find to moan about.
This new Elise has been subtly tweeked. At the rear a deeper defuser aid the exciting airflow reducing drag while at the front a similar thing, although you wouldn't really know it. Lotus has always been about weight saving rather than monstrous amounts of power and this Elise is still true, weighing in at just 876 kg. This is not a car for those that want to drive flat out everywhere. It's a great touring car with this engine. Capable of keeping up but definitely not that quick. But once again I don't need to state that, this Elise is what it is. A low powered Lotus that won't get you into trouble unless you slap its face and make it angry. I am definitely of the opinion that this car, as with any little Lotus is not just a car but more of a part of you and should be described as a being rather than an object. You don't drive an Elise, you wear it like a well fitting shoe.
This car is two cars in one. Its low power means that its safe for even the most novice of drivers to handle while still retaining enough poke once pushed to waken the little car into a torrent of excitement. So who's going to buy the new 1600 cc Elise? I think those that want to own an environmentally considerate sports car. After all the Lotus will never rust so you won't need to replace it. It's bonded aluminum chassis and fibre glass coach work keep the rust factor away. Thankfully all the issues of the previous Elise's now behind, mainly the old Rover K series engined cars which went through head gaskets like no tomorrow.
With new models in the pipeline and the stunning new Evora, these are exciting times for Lotus as the company is starting to thrive once again. I'm sure you'll agree that it's great to see a British Automotive manufacturer doing well and ultimately producing a product you want. Open your eyes, wake up from your dream, your car is here!