New & Used Lotus Elise: In Depth
2011 Lotus EliseEnlarge Photo
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Though it lived a relatively long life elsewhere in the world, the phenomenal, aluminum-bodied Lotus Elise was only offered in America for a relatively short period.
First arriving as a mid-cycle second-generation, or Series 2, model, the Elise hit the U.S. market in 2005. Known internally as the 111R, or Federal Elise, the car was powered by a mid-mounted, Toyota-supplied, but Lotus-modified 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 189 horsepower. Despite the relatively diminutive power output, the Elise's scant 1,987-pound curb weight enabled brisk acceleration; 60 mph arrived from a standstill in just 4.9 seconds. A six-speed manual gearbox by Lotus handled gear changes.
In late 2005, for 2006-model Elises, Lotus upgraded the equipment package to include an optional limited-slip differential and tractional control. Other changes for the 2006 Elise included more seat padding, LED tail lights, and daytime running lights. An available Sport package was also available,
For the 2007 model year, the Elise gained small bumpers to help meet U.S. safety regulations, and in 2008, a supercharged Elise SC model was introduced. The Elise SC used the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder 2ZZ Toyota engine, but with the addition of a Magnuson supercharger, increasing output to 217 horsepower and cutting 0-60 mph times to just 4.4 seconds. The Elise SC's top speed was 150 mph.
Only two major options packages were available for the Elise, the Sport pack and the Touring pack. The Sport pack added choice performance enhancements like a limited-slip differential, upgraded suspension, and oil cooler; the Touring pack increased the comfort of the Elise with more leather upholstery, noise insulation material, and the limited-slip differential and traction control system of the Sport pack.
The Elise continued largely unchanged in the U.S. through 2011, when the SC model was given a Final Edition version ahead of the end of sales in North America. U.S. sale of the Elise was stopped due to the expiration of an air bag exemption.
The Final Edition Elise SC was offered in four colors, with a range of additional equipment, including: a perforated black leather steering wheel, anodized-finish rear diffuser, CD/MP3 stereo system, black ProBax sport seats with Alcantara trim, and Sport suspension, springs, and dampers, plus the standard Touring pack equipment.
A similar, but more powerful and more expensive Lotus was sold alongside the Elise for most of its U.S. run: the Exige. This supercharged version added a wide array of handling and other performance enhancements, hot-rodding the Elise basics into a performance category closer to the super-sports car segment.
The Elise also ran under another guise: its chassis was used as the starting point for what would become the Tesla Roadster.