Lotus launched the Elise at the Frankfurt Motor show in 1995, but as standard for Lotus did not deliver any cars to customers until 1996. The Julian Thomson designed 2 seater, Rover 1.8l powered, 5 speed, convertible has turned out to be Lotus' highest selling car. With the Elise, Lotus returned very much to the Chapman philosophy of 'lightness'. The innovative extruded aluminum chassis weighs in at just 65kg resulting in the total car weight being a mere 731kg. The Elise chassis has been utilised in the Lotus Exige, Lotus 340R & 2-11. A slightly modified chassis has also been utilised in the Vauxhall VX220 cars produced at the Lotus Hethel plant and the Lotus Europa S & SE.

In 2000 Lotus introduced the S2 variant of the Elise. Externally the styling was revised by Russell Carr. The resulting car looking more masculine than the original. From the driving perspective Lotus designed the car for safety reasons with mild understeer.

The original Elise was powered by the Rover 1.8l K-Series engine (118bhp). Over time Lotus tuned the engine to varies outputs up to 190bhp and also utilised the variable valve version (VVC) of the Rover K-Series (143bhp & 156bhp). In 2004 Lotus introduced the Toyota engined 111R. A main reason for offering the 1.8l variable valve Toyota engine (189bhp) was for the global emission certification that allowed the Elise to be sold into the USA. In addition Toyota also supplied the 6 speed gearbox. The Toyota mechanicals are generally considered to more refined and reliable than the Rover equivalents.

In 2005 Rover went into liquidation and the K series engine was no longer manufactured. This caused Lotus sales problems in 2006 as the entry/cheaper Elise's could no longer be sold. To overcome this problem in 2007, Lotus introduced an entry level Elise S powered by a lower specification Toyota 1800cc engine fitted with a 5 speed gearbox. Reviews of the Elise S were very favorable as the car embodied the Elise/Lotus ethos of light weight at an affordable price.

In 2008 Lotus introduced the Elise SC. This car utilises a supercharger to increase power & torque. To overcome the problem of poor rear visability available in the supercharged Exige, the Elise SC does without the intercooler that in the Exige implementation covers the rear window.

Information Sources
A good on line source for Elise information is the Elises site (see link below).

Other good sources of information are:

'The Lotus Book' book by William Taylor (ISBN 1-902351-00-2)
'Lotus the Legend' book by David Hodges (ISBN 0-75252-074-1)
'The Lotus Elise - The Official Story Continues' (ISBN 1-90235-115-0)
Please see below for the Lotus Elise's statistics. Please note that the source of the performance data is sometimes official Lotus Cars data and sometimes independent magazine review data.

Name Production Years Max. Power bhp Max. Torque lb.ft Top Speed mph 0-60mph sec Comment
Elise S1 1996-2000 118@5500rpm 122@2000rpm 126 6.1s Julian Thomson styled. Rover 1.8l K-series engined.
Elise Sport 160 2000-2000 158@7000rpm 122@3500rpm 135 5.2s Six speed, Toyota engined.
Elise 111S 1998-2000 143@7000rpm 128@4500rpm 133 5.5s Rover 1.8l VVC K-Series Engine.
Elise S2 2000-2005 120@5500rpm 124@3500rpm 125 6.1s Re styled by Russell Carr.
Elise S2 Sport 135 2002-2003 135@6200rpm 129@4850rpm 129 5.4s Track based Elise.
Elise S2 Sport 190 2002-2005 190@7800rpm 128@5000rpm 135 4.4s Track based Elise. Only available as an upgrade from Lotus Motorsport.
Elise S2 111(S) 2002-2005 156@7000rpm 129@4650rpm 131 5.1s Rover 1.8l VVC K-Series engine. Aircon an option. EC mpg 40.9
Elise S2 135R 2003-2005 135@6250rpm 126@4800rpm 129 5.3s Track based Elise.
Elise S2 111R 2004- 189@7800rpm 133@6800rpm 150 5.6s Six speed, Toyota engined. Allows Lotus to sell Elise in the USA.
Elise S2 S 2007- 2007- 134@6200rpm 127@4200rpm 127 6.3s Entry level 5 speed, Toyota engined.
Elise S2 SC 2008- 217@8000rpm 157@5000rpm 150 4.4s Supercharged Toyota engined. No intercooler.