Lotus was a very different company 20 years ago. For starters, it wasn't owned by the Malaysians: it had just been sold by General Motors to Romano Artioli, the same man behind the revival of Bugatti EB110. It had discontinued the Elan, Excel and Carlton, which left the Esprit – by then already 20 years old itself – as its only product. Then the Elise came along and everything changed.

The Elise arrived in 1995, based on a lightweight aluminum chassis that was ahead of its time and cloaked in composite body panels to make it incredibly light in the spirit of Colin Chapman's ethos. Its name was taken from Artioli's granddaughter, but stuck around long after he sold the company.

The Esprit was eventually retired, and with the exception of the Evora, the Elise served as the basis for every other new Lotus that has followed in the two decades since: the Exige, Europa, 2-Eleven, 340R, and so on. It even lent its underpinnings to a wide array of sports cars for other automakers, including the groundbreaking Tesla Roadster, the all-conquering Hennessey Venom GT, the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220, and more concepts cars and niche products than we can count.

Now 20 years since its introduction, Lotus is celebrating the milestone with the Elise 20th Anniversary Edition. It's based on (and effectively replaces) the Elise S Club Racer, and trims a further 22 pounds off the curb weight. It's got matte black forged wheels and trim, a retrimmed interior and of course all the special badging. UK customers will be able to pick one up for £39,900, but as the Elise hasn't been offered Stateside in a few years now, we'll just have to admire – and celebrate – from afar.
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Lotus Elise celebrates 20 years

- Celebratory 20th Anniversary Special Edition Elise
- Special edition, based on the Elise S Club Racer, including classic Elise colour schemes
- Pioneering and iconic Elise continues to innovate and evolve
- Weight reduced by 10 kg

The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition celebrates the unveiling of the iconic sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1995.

20 years ago, the Lotus Elise revolutionised the sports car world, setting the benchmark for handling, purity of the driving experience, lightweight and efficiency. Its pioneering and advanced bonded aluminium chassis was a market-leading technological innovation at the time and over the years has improved and evolved and remains core to the Elise's exceptional performance today.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, welcomes the Elise 20th Anniversary model, "It is sometimes hard to believe that the Elise has been around for 20 years. It was ground breaking when it was launched and continues to be the benchmark for handling and performance in its class. Over the years we have improved and refined the Elise but we have also ensured that we have retained the purity of the driving experience and for the Elise to remain as the sports car to which other marques aspire."

The Elise 20th Anniversary, with its lightweight aero-optimised, composite body, is powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged engine. It reaches 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 145 mph (237 km/h). The benefit of this light weight is that the Elise 20th Anniversary consumes just 5.9 litres / 100 km (47.6 mpg) extra urban and emits just 173 g of CO2 per km.

Weighing just 914 kg, 10 kg less than the Elise S, the Elise 20th Anniversary is the sports car that both enthusiasts and newcomers to the brand will desire. Lightweight, efficient and totally pure in its driving experience, its benchmark in handling remains the envy of the sports car scene. Additional equipment compared to the Elise S comes as standard and is designed to reduce weight, including lightweight matt black forged wheels, lightweight centre console in body colour and lightweight sports seats in leather or Alcantara with colour coded stitching. A sport mode is also included which increases throttle response and alters the traction slip thresholds allowing the driver enhanced control before intervention.

Four classic Elise colours are available in Blue, Green, Yellow and Silver and the rear diffuser, wing mirrors, roll hoop cover and rear transom are in matt black. Elise 20th Anniversary decals inside on the dashboard and seats and outside above the side indicator identify the anniversary special edition.

All this additional equipment amounts to £5,150 worth of extra value, for only £2,700 more than the standard Elise S (£37,200) and the Elise 20th Anniversary will become a driving investment for the future.

The Elise is the most successful Lotus model in terms of numbers built, with a total of almost 32,000 built and sold globally. In addition to the Elise, the Lotus small platform technology has been used to great success in the Lotus Exige, Lotus Europa and Lotus 2-Eleven models, all of which are, or have been manufactured by Lotus at its Headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk.

The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary is on sale now with an MSRP of £39,900. It replaces the Elise S Club Racer. For other currency prices, please contact the Lotus press office. Orders can be placed now.

Each 20th Anniversary Lotus Elise Edition will have the following as standard:
* Body colour, lighter weight interior centre console
* Leather, or Alcantara (no cost), lighter sports seat trim option
* Colour-coded stitching on seats and door cards
* Colour-coded seat hoops
* Matt Black forged alloy wheels
* Matt Black distinguishing exterior trim
* A choice of four exterior colours - Classic Blue / Green / Yellow / Silver
* Auxiliary driving lights
* Elise 20th Anniversary decals externally and on dashboard stereo blanking-plate

Hardtop £1,200
Air Conditioning £1,250
CD/Radio and USB Connection and NVH Pack £1,200

Fuel consumption for Elise 20th Anniversary:
Urban 27.3 mpg – 10.3 litres / 100 km. Extra urban 47.6 mpg – 5.9 litres / 100 km.
Combined – 37.5 mpg – 7.5 litres / 100 km. CO2 emissions 173 g CO2 / km.

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