Introduced in 1996, the Lotus Elise has been redesigned twice, with the most recent, Series 3 model launched in 2011. For 2017, Lotus upgraded the sports car in order to keep it fresh until the fourth-generation model arrives in a couple of years.
The facelift isn’t exactly spectacular on the outside, but the Elise does benefit from redesigned bumpers, new headlamps, and a host of weight-reducing elements. New features include carbon-fiber front access panel, roll hoop cover, and engine hood, a polycarbonate rear screen, and forged alloy wheels. Inside, the Elise received more attention. Lotus redesigned the center console, which now resembles the Exige, and updated the graphics of the instrument panel. The carbon race seats are also new, as is the open-gate gear select mechanism borrowed from the Exige Sport 350.
The Elise now comes with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, while carbin sill covers, an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, and new Electric Light Blue upholstery are offered as options.
The Sprint Edition gets its juice from either the naturally aspirated, 1.6-liter or the supercharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder. The smaller engine cranks out 134 horsepower and 160 Nm (118 pound-feet) of torque in the base Sprint model, while the force-fed 1.8-liter pumps out 217 horsepower and 250 Nm (184 pound-feet) in the Sprint 220 version. More importantly, the drivetrain and chassis also benefit from new weight-saving measures, including a lightweight lithium-ion battery, AP Racing calipers up front and Brembo clamps to the rear. Optional two-piece brake discs are available.
Tipping the scales at 798 kg (1,759 pounds), the Elise Sprint Edition is 41 kg (90.3 pounds) lighter than the standard model and 26 kg (57.3 pounds) lighter than the Sport version. As a result, the Elise Sprint has a power-to-weight ratio of up to 168 horsepower per tonne, while the Sprint 220 comes in at 257 horsepower per tonne. Naturally, the sports car is quicker than ever before, needing 5.9 and 4.1 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start with the 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines, respectively.
The updated Elise carries over the same suspension setup as before, with fully independent double wishbone suspension and a front anti-roll bar, coupled with Bilstein high-performance gas dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs front and rear. Being lighter than the preceding model, the spring rate was marginally increased in order to retain the classic ride the Elise is known for.
The Sprint Edition goes on sale in April 2017 from £32,300 (around $40,050 as of March 2017).
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