The Lotus Elise has been available in Europe for more than a decade, while the U.S. had to wait until 2005 for the roadster to hit American shores. In the years since, little has changed for the Elise racer. People who buy the Elise are interested in a track car that can occasionally be driven in town. It is lightweight outside and in, and is not intended for casual use. But, when used properly, the Elise provides intense handling and supercar responsiveness. The 4-cylinder Toyota-sourced engine inside the 2011 Elise provides reliability and surprising fuel economy at 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
Minimal changes have been made to the Elise line for 2011. The most notable updates include slightly revised styling at the front clamshell, rear bumper and an engine cover. New headlights have also been fitted, with LED daytime running lights and LED turn signals. Improved aerodynamics aid in achieving greater fuel economy and new cast and forged wheels give it an updated look. In the interest of saving weight, one of the new sets of wheels weighs only 65 lbs total.
The Elise is a track-ready car with minimal interior comforts, nearly no cargo space and a rock-hard suspension. It's also one of the fastest, best-handling cars available. It offers supercar acceleration and handling in a striking design. The base Elise gets to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and the SC trim is a tenth of a second slower, but has a smoother power curve, making it slightly more drivable day-to-day. But the secret to the Elise's abilities is its light weight. The base Elise tips the scales at an extremely svelte 1,984 lbs. The Toyota-sourced 1.8L 4-cylinder engine only makes 189 horsepower, but with so little car to push around, it allows the engine's free-revving spirit to shine. The Elise SC utilizes a supercharger to allow the engine to make more power, pushing it to 218 horses, while the vehicle gains a mere 22 lbs. The supercharger also mellows out the Elise engine's neurotic character a bit, making the power curve more progressive. This makes the Elise SC the one to choose if it's to be driven anywhere but on the track. The interior of the Elise is spartan, which isn't unusual for a car built for speed. Standard features include air conditioning, HID headlights, an anti-theft system, a leather-trimmed Momo steering wheel, aluminum gearshift knob and handbrake trim, a premium audio system and performance tires. Individual options include a hard top, limited-slip differential, leather seats and traction control. Standard safety and performance features include front and side air bags, a tire pressure monitoring, stowage bag for the soft top, LED taillights, daytime running lights and cast-alloy wheels. The standard anti-lock braking system comes with Lotus/AP Racing and Brembo calipers, plus 4-wheel ventilated, cross-drilled disc brakes. The Touring package upgrades the soft top's insulation and the stereo system and adds full carpet and leather seats. The Sport package upgrades the car's wheels to forged silver alloy and adds sport-tuned suspension, twin oil coolers, traction control and sport seats. (This package also reduces the overall weight of the Elise by 20 pounds.) The new Performance Package includes almost everything in both the Touring and the Sport Packages, as well other customizable options.