It's been a long time coming, but the Lotus Elise has finally gone under the knife and gotten a new nose inspired by its 2+2 sibling. Available in both standard (189 horsepower) and SC (218 hp) guise, the 2011 Elise also benefits from a new engine cover, improved aerodynamics and LED daytime running lights and indicators.
It's not a huge makeover, but depending on who's looking, it's a subtle improvement over its predecessor, lending a bit more familial cohesion to Lotus' entry level model – something that's going to be more important when the next-generation Esprit finally hits the roads in two years time. Sales of the facelifted Elise are set to begin later this summer and you can get all the details about the updates in the press release below the fold.
The Lotus Elise revolutionized the sports car market 14 years ago when the small, lightweight and agile 2-seat mid-engine sports car was introduced. By ensuring that the Elise stuck rigidly to Lotus' core values of performance through light weight, the Elise was able to produce supercar performance with city car economy and for the 2011 model year, Lotus has introduced a number of changes and improvements to maintain the class leading position of the Elise.
The 2011 Elise range for the US and Canadian markets will consist of the following versions:
- Lotus Elise – 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder engine with 189 hp and 133 ft.-lbs. of torque
- Lotus Elise SC – 1.8 liter supercharged 4-cylinder engine with 218 hp and 156 ft.-lbs. of torque
Key updates and improvements across the 2011 Lotus Elise line:
- New evolution body design incorporating new front clamshell, rear bumper and engine cover
- New all-in-one integrated headlights incorporating LED daylight running lights and LED direction indicators
- Improved aerodynamics with a four percent reduction in Coefficient of Drag (Cd), resulting in better fuel economy
- New standard cast and available forged wheels
The new 2011 Elise range will enter the US and Canadian markets in the late summer of 2010. The body of the new 2011 Elise is an evolution of the iconic Elise design, retaining the character and style, while offering a more planted, purposeful stance and a pure, contemporary look that links it to the Evora. As with all Lotus products, the design is an exciting blend of dramatic style and functional efficiency.
The new Elise body has a fresh sculptured front, including a new bumper, front clam and access panel that combine to give the Elise a wider, more planted stance on the road.
At the rear of the car the mid-engine compartment has been encased by a new, distinctive "twin-spine" engine cover while lower down on the back of the Elise a more aggressive diffuser is tightly wrapped by an elegant new bumper design that now includes the rear license plate.
New headlamp units with distinctively sculptured LED lighting guides (incorporating daytime running lamps and direction indicators) give a contemporary twist to this classic design. Elsewhere, the signature Lotus "mouth" and familiar sculptured forms have been sensitively refined to give a crisper, more dynamic look. The repositioning of lamp functions has enabled the creation of a broad clean surface between the fenders which combines with sleek corner intakes and a prominent splitter detail to give a broader more planted stance.
The theme of purity is carried through to the cooling apertures that are efficiently finished with a new lightweight aluminium mesh that gives the car a classically sporting character.
The rear trunk is now opened from the cockpit rather than via a separate key operation. The high quality feel of the Elise is continued throughout the car with the Elise graphic incorporated into the new side LED direction indicators, like those on the Evora.
The driving position, from the perfectly positioned pedals and steering wheel to the comfortable and supportive seats with ProBax** technology, means that, like all Lotus cars, the driver becomes part of the car rather than being just a passenger.
With the sleek new body, the 2011 Elise's aerodynamics have improved with a four percent reduction in the coefficient of drag (Cd).
Finally, a choice of two beautiful, light weight wheel designs are available. New standard cast alloy wheels have been designed specifically for the Elise. Also, new optional forged alloy wheels will be available that weigh just 64.5 lbs. per set, 4.7 lbs. lighter than the set of cast alloy wheels. Both wheel sets are available in silver or black.
Dany Bahar, Chief Executive of Group Lotus said, "The Lotus Elise revolutionized the sports car when it was launched 14 years ago and for this year the Lotus Elise has become greener, giving drivers access to class leading performance with less guilt."
Donato Coco, Director of Design at Lotus said, "The Elise is an iconic sports car and it was important that we did not complicate its design, so we made the car more pure in its look, improved the aerodynamics, and gave it a more contemporary look with high quality detailing."
Paul Newsome, Director of Lotus Product Engineering said, "We are always looking at ways of keeping the Elise ahead of its peers and for the 2011 model year we have improved efficiency without losing the innate fun that has made the Elise legendary."
Andreas Prillmann, Chief Commercial Officer for Lotus Cars said, "In its 14 years of production the Elise has accounted for 32% of all the 61 years of Lotus production, illustrating how significant to the brand and well loved it is. The 2011 Elise is greener, purer and more desirable, making it even more relevant in today's marketplace. The new Elise underlines Lotus' reputation as one of the most innovative sports car manufacturers in the world."
The 2011 Elise in more detail: Chassis The Lotus Elise is built around the revolutionary and award winning extruded and bonded aluminum chassis, with a lightweight steel rear subframe. The chassis weighs just 150 lbs. and has a torsional rigidity of 9,800 Nm per degree, giving a high level of precise control of the suspension tuning. At the rear, and also acting as a rear energy absorbing crash structure, a lightweight steel subframe carries the engine and gearbox. At the front, the radiator and key ancillaries are mounted into a high tech composite energy absorbing crash structure that is both lightweight, compact and over three times more energy absorbing than the equivalent steel structure.
Engine – Elise
Power for the Elise is delivered through the high-tech and reliable 2ZZ-GE 1.8-liter four- cylinder, 16-valve engine with Intelligent Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i) from Toyota. Selected for the Elise because of its compact size, light weight and high output, the Lotus-tuned engine is rated at 189 peak horsepower at 7,800 rpm, delivering 133 ft.- lbs. of torque at 6,800 rpm. VVT-i technology allows the engine increased low-end torque for better acceleration from a standstill while also enhancing high-speed performance. The job of getting power to the ground falls to the smooth-shifting, all-aluminum C64 six-speed manual gearbox, also sourced from Toyota. Lotus engineers designed an ultra precise shift linkage mechanism for fast, positive gear shifts, transforming the transmission into the perfect tool for harnessing every ounce of the Elise's performance potential.
Engine – Elise SC
The 2011 Elise SC has a power increase over the standard Elise from 189hp to 218hp (15%) and torque increase from 133 ft.-lbs. to 156 ft.-lbs. (17%) via an Eaton rotor pack non-intercooled supercharger designed especially for the Elise.
The Lotus-designed, Magnuson-produced supercharger is joined to the intake manifold plenum as part of a single-piece casting. Combined with the absence of an intercooler and its associated pipework, this integrated supercharger/intake manifold assembly contributes to a 17.6 lbs. reduction in engine weight compared to the Exige S and no compromise to rear view mirror visibility which is masked by the current intercooler installation on the Exige S.
In keeping with its role as a supremely fast road car rather than extreme track machine, throttle response is very progressive but also very direct, resulting in a measured, refined driving experience. As you might expect of a car with 218hp and weighing only about a ton, the performance of the 2011 Elise SC is astonishing with 0-60 mph acceleration time in the mid four second range.
Both the naturally-aspirated Elise and the Elise SC's supercharged engine are completely controlled by Lotus' own bespoke T6 Engine Management Control System.
Ride and handling
The legendary Lotus ride and handling gives a superb high performance, sporty drive, combined with a compliant ride and progressive on limit handling, it makes the Elise a car that demands to be driven.
The Lotus Elise is one of the lightest fully homologated sports cars in the world. This low weight translates into efficient performance with minimal environmental impact in terms of emissions and fuel consumption. The efficiency of the Elise structure means that the 189 hp in Elise form or 218 hp in the Elise SC delivers phenomenal performance.
Few cars can match the delicacy and accuracy of the steering, throttle and brakes of the Elise and all of these factors contribute to the excellent driving experience of the Elise.
The Elise has high performance AP Racing callipers at the front and Brembo callipers at the rear linked to 11.1" (282 mm) vented and cross-drilled cast iron discs to give excellent stopping power.
The Elise comes as standard with a track tuned ABS system that is designed to be unobtrusive under normal driving conditions. This system is designed to be used on track and has a high threshold, only intervening in emergencies. The ABS system is linked to a lightweight pedal box with steel pedal arms and extruded aluminium pads. This unit also has an electronic (drive-by-wire) throttle for quick, smooth and more linear engine response.
The impressive braking coupled with excellent handling gives good primary safety and the composite front crash structure and rear crash protection offers efficient secondary safety. Driver and passenger airbags and pre-tensioning seatbelt are standard on all Elise models.
*The Lotus Elise is currently undergoing EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval and official for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures, plus performance figures are not yet available.
**"ProBaxTM" seats Introduced for 2006 Model Year Lotus Exige and Elise cars, ProBaxTM seats are designed by Lotus and specifically adapted and developed by NuBax. ProBaxTM seats help to significantly improve the postural position of the occupant's spine while seated compared to similar seat shells without ProBaxTM technology. This not only results in an improved level of comfort, but also has significant medical benefits - maintaining a natural curvature of the spine, and markedly improving the body's blood flow. Increased blood flow has been shown to enhance response times, raise alertness levels and reduce the onset of muscle fatigue. Tests on Lotus seats, with the new ProBaxTM technology, have shown an improvement in blood flow of up to thirty per cent over the pre-2006 Model Year Lotus seat.