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Lotus Elise review – is the featherweight sports car as good as ever? - Ride and handling

The Elise, with exceptional feel and control as well as compliance and ride quality, couldn’t be anything other than a Lotus

Evo rating
Price
from £31,500
  • Sublime involving chassis as well as a compliant ride; rorty four-cylinder engines
  • More powerful, hardcore models are expensive

Ride and handling

As ever, the Elise is a fantastic sports car and one of the best driving experiences available, at any cost. One defining aspect that makes it so enjoyable is its tiny dimensions; you have the space to choose your line and have options of where to place the car while remaining on the correct side of the road.

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> Alpine A110 review

The Elise’s sub-ton kerb weight, no matter what derivative it is, means the chassis can be determinedly controlled as well as communicate everything the car’s doing in intimate detail while still providing a decent, compliant ride. It’s a trick that Lotus has been pulling off for years.

One huge improvement over older Elises is the new gearbox and open linkage. It felt rattly and loosely defined before, but now it’s positive and robust.

> Read our full review of the Lotus Elise Sprint 220

The 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine in the Sport and Sprint is relatively quiet below 4000rpm, but as it approaches its 6800rpm limiter it starts to feel much keener and sounds more vocal too. The noise is not dissimilar to the sound emitted from the first Elise’s K-series – there’s the same hollow rortiness. You do really need to rev the engine to feel the full performance of the smaller engine, but it remains incredibly smooth even when you do.

The engine itself is a highlight, too. Many members of the evo team have said it sounds like it’s breathing through a pair of twin-choke carbs rather than fuel injection and a supercharger.

The Cup cars are more serious, as you’d expect. They feel tough and agile, but with huge agility and can carry exceptional speed across country. No matter how demanding the road, the car’s balance is rarely upset and there’s so much grip from the Yokohama tyres that understeer or oversteer are never something you need to worry about on the road. If you want to be able feel a car moving around under you and allow you the option to adjust its line, then the Cup Elises aren’t for you. Still, as with the entire range, there something pure about the Elise experience.

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