Lotus Elise
Sport 190

0-100-0 time: 17.9 seconds
0-100-0 distance 1592 feet

When Phil popped off the quick release steering wheel and hopped into this racing version of the Elise (which is sold in the U.S. for competition purposes only) he immediately looked at home. Then, after being advised by Graham Sutherland of Lotus to launch the car at 4000 rpm for optimum performance, he did so, sending the car off with just the right amount of wheelspin.

As this slightly lower, rollcage-equipped 2-seater began to disappear in the track's shimmering heat waves, you cold tell by its sound that it was no normal Elise. Whereas the standard 118-bhp car sounds like its powered by a sewing machine, the 190 Sport had a rorty exhaust note that bespoke a throughly revamped K-series engine with more aggressive camshafts and strengthened internals, exhaling through an exhaust unemcumbeered by a catalyst.

Then when Phil hit the brakes the 190 Sport poped sideways-at 100 mph!-for a brief moment of drama as a front wheel locked. We chalked it up to cold brakes, which, once warmed, presented no further problems. In fact, the non-ABS Elise was the second quickest stopper of our group, coming to a complete halt from 100.4 mph in only 341 feet. Phil, who likened the feel of the shift linkage to that of rear engine Porsches, had no complaints with the Elise. As he hopped out, he told Sutherland that it's "a wonderful little car."

Road and Track
(Test included Morgan Plus 8, Caterham 7 SuperLight R, Aston Martin Vantage 600, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, Jaguar XKR, Grinnall Scorpion, and a Rover 200-BRM LE.