2009 Elise New Car Test Drive
The Lotus Elise is a mid-engine two-seat sports car known for sharp handling, excellent braking and quick acceleration. It achieves this the traditional Lotus way: through lightweight construction rather than outright power. What other sports cars do with 400 horsepower the Elise does with half that. The Elise offers one of the most exhilarating driving experiences you will find. It is also the world's most efficient production supercar. Its small yet powerful engine delivers reasonable fuel economy and commendably low CO2 emissions. Weighing less than 2000 pounds, the Elise used to be the lightest production car offered in the U.S.; now that honor goes by a small margin to the Smart car.
There have been no functional changes to the Elise for 2009. The current Elise was released in the United Kingdom for 2001 and in the United States for 2005.
Agility and speed make the Elise a compelling sports car, but its small size make it less practical than, say, a Corvette or Porsche Boxster. Prospective buyers should be mindful of the Elise's marginal utility, as many who have bought an Elise have subsequently had second thoughts. It's a marvelous car for those seeking fair-weather weekend thrill rides and occasional track time but, for the commute, use the Camry. As a no-compromise sports car, the Lotus Elise is fantastic. Considered as a cute sports car, the Elise is pricey, but viewed as a supercar, it's a bargain.
The Elise ($47,250) comes with a 1.8L dohc inline four-cylinder engine rated at 189 horsepower at 7800 rpm and 133 pound-feet of torque at 6800 rpm, a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission, non-assisted steering, power four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 LTS tires, air conditioning, power windows, remote power door locks, anti-theft alarm, engine immobilizer and cloth seats.
The Elise SC ($54,990) adds a Magnuson supercharger with Eaton M45 rotor pack; it is not intercooled, and is rated at 218 horsepower at 8000 rpm and 156 pound-feet of torque at 5000 rpm.
Options include a Touring Pack ($1,600) with padded and insulated black removable soft top, full leather seats and door trim, upgraded stereo system with iPod connector, interior stowage net behind passenger seat and full black carpet set; Sport Pack ($2,600) with lighter-weight forged (versus cast) alloy wheels, 6.0J x 16 (versus 5.5J x 16) front wheel size, Yokohama Advan AD07 LTS tires, Lotus Sport tuned suspension, twin oil coolers, electronic traction control and black ProBax Sport seats; body-color Hardtop ($1,475); limited-slip differential ($1,790); traction control ($495); Metallic paint ($590), Lifestyle paint ($1,200), Limited paint ($3,300), Exclusive paint ($5,100); and Starshield clear front-end and rocker area protection film ($995).
The Lotus Exige S 240 and Exige 260 are based on the Elise, but have fixed composite roof panels and offer more horsepower through supercharged, intercooled engines; their engines are rated at 240 and 257 horsepower, respectively.
Safety features on the Elise include dual front airbags (passenger side cannot be deactivated), seatbelt pretensioners, integral steel seatbelt support structure, ABS and epoxy-bonded perimeter aluminum chassis subframe. Electronic traction control is available either as a stand-alone option or as part of the Sport Pack.