Messing with perfection: Audi heart transplant into Elise/Exige

The blokes at Britain's Auto-Teknix are trying to build a better Elise -- no small task since may people think that Lotus' lightweight sports car is perfect as-is. However, that's not enough to keep the Auto-Teknix engineers away. For a price, they'll upgrade your Elise with Audi's 2.0-liter turbo 1.8T engine, giving it either 250 or 300+ horsepower. They claim that the added weight is offset by locating the engine lower and farther forward, meaning that the weight distribution only changes by 2%. Suspension adjustments claim to all but eliminate any adverse effects to the stock handling.

On their site, they have an impressive video showing a 300-hp, previous-gen Elise launching like a bullet. It sounds fantastic, and it's obviously very fast, but we still fail to see the point. The Elise was never designed to be a straight-line monster. It's all about balance and incredible handling. The existing powerplant is more than adequate in terms of getting the job done, but as always, where there's a will...

On Friday, I happened to strike up a conversation with Mark Starr of Hunting Ridge Motorsports and Lotus of Greenwich. He had recently returned from an event at New Hampshire International Speedway and shared an interesting anecdote about the Lotus' on-track prowess. In short, there was a Ferrari F355 Challenge car on the circuit, and it simply could not get by the Lotus. On paper, the matchup looks completely unfair. The 355 Challenge is race-prepped and much more powerful, yet on the track, it was outdone by the Lotus.

So, explain again exactly why the Elise needs more power? As impressive as the Auto-Teknix numbers are, the conversion seems like a case of more simply being more, and not necessarily more being for the better.


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