Lotus Elise -- bringing back the fun factor to driving

Contact: Alastair Florance (PR Officer)

The new Lotus Elise marks a return to roots for the British sports car maker, with a car that is fast, fun to drive and features leading edge technology.

The car, which goes on sale in the UK in August, remains true to the basic design criteria established by Lotus founder Colin Chapman for whom light weight, superlative handling and high levels of driver satisfaction were key attributes.

At the heart of the design is a lightweight, but enormously strong spaceframe chassis fabricated from extruded anodised aluminum and bonded together with a special epoxy adhesive. A steel galvinised rear subframe carries a transverse-installed four cylinder 1.8-litre 16-valve Rover K-Series engine. The body comprises front and rear clamshell sections in composite.

A vehicle weight of 690kg and a maximum engine output of 118bhp endow the Elise with startling performance. The low bodyweight and consequent high power to weight ratio provides obvious benefits in performance, braking, handling and steering, as well as fuel consumption and emissions levels Maximum speed is 124mph (201 km/h) and 62 mph (100 km/h) is reached from rest in 5.9 seconds, with 100 mph (160 km/h) from rest in 18.0 seconds.

Fine tuned independant suspension system, comprising upper and lower wishbones, co-axial coil springs and inverted monotube dampers help to provide handling performance to match.

Tony Shute, Program Manager for Elise, lists the criteria for the concept: A dramatic, small, simple two seat convertible sports car with timeless looks, performance, safety, and driver satisfaction - "the most fun on four wheels"
Performance and efficiency through low weight Ease of manufacture and assembly, affordable cost of ownership Development of forward-thinking proven solutions that would also benefit other car-makers

But high performance is only one element of the package - the stunning and distinctive appearance of the Elise is the work of the Lotus Design team, led by Julian Thomson.

The curvacuous shape is not just attractive but also aerodynamically effective, thanks to a package developed in the wind-tunnel which includes chin and tail elements working with an(optional) underbody diffuser, in line with current motorsport thinking.

The vehicle layout itself, the work of Lotus designer Richard Rackham, is influenced by motorsport practice, yet is driven by the needs of series production manufacturing. The interior too follows this theme; for example, the adjustable driver's seat is nearer the vehicle centre-line than the passenger seat, which itself is fixed in the rearmost position. The overall result is a high-performance package with the driving precision of a race-car, the ride and handling for which Lotus is renowned, and a simplicity and ease of manufacture which car-makers require today.

Lotus engineers, working with Hydro Aluminium Automotive Structures and other forward-looking suppliers, have developed a high-strength spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded aluminium extrusions; a first for production road cars. The structure weighs less than 70kg yet meets required safety legislation with excellent durability and torsional rigidity.

The extrusion process is used to produce many other cost-effective and elegant parts, such as the pedals, suspension uprights (both subjects of new Lotus patents), and the side intrusion beams. The drive to apply innovative solutions to achieve light weight has also brought about another first for production cars - the use of aluminium metal matrix composites (MMC) brake discs. This technology, developed by Lanxide, has previously only been used on competition cars but is now a production-ready process.

Romano Artioli, Chairman of Group Lotus summed up: "We set a clear objective in the briefing of our engineers and designers: it was essential to create a new Lotus which reflected the genius of Colin Chapman. With Elise, Lotus has once again set new standards for handling, performance and style, with a unique blend of classic and forward thinking features. The team has delivered a real winner, ahead of its time, in true Lotus tradition.

"Naturally, Elise features the latest thinking in styling, aerodynamics and ride, yet it is a true Lotus. Its ultra-light design is intended to meet all world-wide requirements for safety, comfort and emission and noise control. Its stunning lines have been penned by our in-house stylists who have justly earned respect as world leaders. The appeal of this model is not limited to its looks; throughout the project I have been delighted by the Lotus engineers' ability and enthusiasm in achieving such a lightweight vehicle. They have applied technologies of the future with simplicity and purity of design.

"The result is an advanced race bred high-performance sports car with distinctive new styling which delivers the most fun on four wheels. In short, it is a winner for Lotus, which was created not only with great expertise but also with great passion. It is for this reason that I chose to name it after the great love of my life who came into this world at the same time, my grand daughter...ELISE."

First production examples of the Elise started down the line at the Lotus plant at Hethel, Norfolk, in early June and are due to reach dealers and customers in time for August registration.

Initial production volume will be four to five vehicles a week in early July, rising to 10 a week by the end of the month and reaching 20 units a week by the end of September. The schedule is to build 400 examples by the end of 1996, with 800 cars scheduled for build in 1997, although contingency plans have been made to ramp up production to meet an increased demand. All 1996 production is forward sold and orders have been taken for delivery up to mid-1997.

Elise Pricing

Standard features on Elise include:
Cloth hood
Luggage boot bag
Leather storage pockets
Passenger footrest
Locking road wheel nuts

Included in the basic price is a one year free recovery membership of the Automobile Association and each car comes with a one year unlimited mileage warranty and an eight year warranty against perforation for the unique aluminum chassis unit. UK market price for the standard car (including VAT) will be £ 19,950.

Optional extras available include:
Metallic paint £ 690.00
Radio fitting kit £ 150.00
Leather trim seats £ 585.00
Driving lamps £ 255.00
Thatcam One approved Cobra alarm/immobiliser £ 295.00

A hard top will be added to the option range by the end of 1996.

Elise key features

Two-seat mid-engined lightweight high performance convertible sports car
0-62 mph (100 km/h): 5.9 seconds
Maximum speed: 124 mph (201 km/h)
Fuel consumption: (mpg/100 km) Urban 28,9/9.6. Extra urban 49.9/5.7. Combined 39.4/7.1
Vehicle weight: 690kg
Structure is formed of epoxy-bonded extruded aluminium sections with steel rear subframe
Chassis manufacturing process (scaleable to higher production volumes) features low-cost tooling with high-accuracy product Glass-reinforced composite "clamshell" body sections front and rear with frontal safety structure
Suspension is double wishbone all round with coil springs and monotube dampers
Extensive use of extruded components in chassis, suspension, and body Aluminium/metal matrix composite ventilated disc brakes with nonservo hydaulic system
"Minimalist" design equipment
Driver's seat biased towards centreline of car; passenger seat fixed in rearward position
Integrated electronic speedometer and tachometer package with multifunction LCD display, by Stack Instruments 1.8 litre 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transaxle, rear wheel drive

Lotus Elise: Technical Specifications

Body: Composite body panels with detachable front and rear "clamshells", integral fixed headlamps.

Chassis: Lotus-designed spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded sections of aluminium extrusions (built by Hydro Aluminium) incorporating integral roll over hoop.

Suspension: Double wishbones with single coil springs over monotube dampers all round. Lotus-patented uprights of extruded aluminium, made by Alusuisse.

Steering: Rack and pinion, non power assisted.

Wheels: Unique Lotus-designed 5-spoke, by Alloy Wheels International
Front: 5.5 J x 15
Rear: 7 J x 16

Tyres: Pirelli P Zero, unique to Lotus
Front: 185/55 R15
Rear: 205/50 R16
Spare: T 115/70 R15 (option)

Brakes: 282 mm diameter aluminium/metal matrix ventilated discs made by Lanxide, mounted outboard Non-servo split hydraulic system supplied by Automotive Products, including unique Lotus/AP Racing opposed piston front calipers.

Instrumentation: Analogue electronic unit comprising speedometer and tachometer with multifunction LCD readout incorporating fuel and coolant gauges, supplied by Stack Instruments.

Engine: 4 cylinders in line, mid mounted transversely.

Capacity: 1796 cc
Construction: Aluminium engine block with aluminium cylinder head Power/torque: 118bhp (88Kw) at 5,500rpm/ 165Nm at 3,000rpm Bore: 80mm / 3.1"
Stroke: 89.3mm / 3.5"
Valve: actuation Double overhead camshaft with hydraulic tappets
Fueling: Fuel injected, mapping unique to Lotus
Ignition: Motorola electronic ignition system, mapping unique to Lotus.
Alternator: 85 A

Transmission: Manual 5 speed transaxle driving rear wheels, hydraulic clutch
Ratios: First: 3.167
Second: 1.842
Third: 1.308
Fourth: 1.033
Fifth: 0.765
Reverse: 3.000
Final drive: 3.938

Lighting: 6" main beam headlamps. Optional auxiliary driving lamps.

Performance: Maximum speed 124mph (201 km/h) 0 - 62mph (100 km/h) 5.9s
0 - 100mph (160 km/h) 18.0s

Fuel Consumption: mpg (I/100km)
Urban: 28.9/9.6
Extra Urban: 49.9/5.7
Combined: 39.4/7.1

Standard Equipment: Alloy road wheels (lockable), 3-way catalytic converter, coded signal immobiliser, cloth hood, unique Lotus/Nardi steering wheel, leather storage pockets, passenger footrest, boot storage bag.


Wheel base: 2300mm / 90.6"
Front track: 1440mm / 56.7"
Rear track: 1453mm / 57.2"
Overall length: 3726mm / 146.7"
Overall width: 1701mm / 67.0" (excluding mirrors) Overall height: 1202mm / 47.3"
Ground clearance: 160mm / 6.3"
Fuel tank capacity: 40 I / 8.8 gal.
Fuel grade: 95 RON minimum
Unladen weight: 675 kg
Weight distribution: 39/61 (% front/rear)

Warranty: Twelve month unlimited mileage from factory. Aluminium chassis eight year warranty against perforation corrosion.

Servicing: First service 1000 miles, thereafter 9,000 miles or annually.

Insurance: Group To Be Advised