Lotus Elise -- Bringing back the fun factor to driving

14 October 1997

The Lotus Elise marks a return to roots for the British sports car manufacturer, with a car that is fast, fun to drive and features leading edge technology.Lotus Elise -- Bringing back the fun factor to driving The car remains true to the basic design philosophy established by Lotus founder Colin Chapman for whom light weight, superlative handling and high levels of driver satisfaction were key attributes. The criteria for the Elise concept are:

  • 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.

At the heart of the design is a lightweight, but enormously strong spaceframe chassis constructed from extruded anodised aluminum and bonded together with a special epoxy adhesive. A steel galvanised 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 690 kg and a maximum engine output of 88 kW endow the Elise with startling performance. The low weight 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 202 km/h (126 mph) and 100 km/h (62 mph) is reached from rest in 5.9 seconds, with 160 km/h from rest in 18.0 seconds.

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

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

The curvaceous 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 underbody diffuser, in line with current motorsport thinking .

The vehicle layout itself is influenced by motorsport practice, yet is driven by the needs of series-production manufacturing. The interior follows this theme too; for example, the adjustable driver's seat is nearer the centre-line of the vehicle 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 forward-looking suppliers, have developed a high strength spaceframe structure of epoxy-bonded aluminum extrusions; a first for production road cars. The structure weighs less than 70 kg 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 aluminum metal matrix composite (MMC) brake discs. This technology has previously only been used on competition cars but is now a production-ready process.

Lotus set a clear objective in briefing 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, which was created not only with great expertise but also with great passion, ahead of its time and in true Lotus tradition.

The result is an advanced race bred high-performance sports car with distinctive new styling which delivers the most fun on four wheels!

Further information:

Karen Angus - PR Manager

Alastair Florance - PR Officer

Group Lotus Ltd.
Potash Lane
Norfolk NR14 8EZ
England (UK)

Tel: + 44 (0) 1953 608000
Fax: + 44 (0) 1953 608133

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 aluminum extrusions (built by Hydro Aluminum) incorporating integral roll over hoop.
Suspension: Double wishbones with single coil springs over monotube dampers all round. Lotus-patented uprights of extruded aluminum, made by Alusuisse.
Steering: Rack and pinion, non power assisted.
Wheels: Unique Lotus-designed 5-spoke, by Alloy Wheels International.
Front: 51/2JX1 5
Rear: 7Jx1 6
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero
Front: 185/55 R15
Rear: 205150 R16
Brakes: 282 mm diameter aluminum/metal matrix ventilated discs made by Lanxide, mounted outboard. Non-servo split hydraulic system, 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: Aluminum engine block with aluminum cylinder head
Power: 88 kW (118 bhp) at 5500 rpm
Torque: 165 Nm (122 Ib.ft) at 3000 rpm
Bore/Stroke: 80 mm /3.1 "/89.3 mm / 3.5"
Valve actuation: Double overhead camshaft with hydraulic tappets
Fueling: fuel injected
Ignition: Motorola electronic ignition system
Alternator: 85 A
Transmission: Manual 5 speed transaxle driving rear wheels, hydraulic clutch.
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.
Maximum speed 202 km/h
100km/h 5.9s
160 km/h 18.0 s
Fuel Consumption: (litre/100 km)
Urban 9.6
Extra urban 5.7
Combine 7.1
Standard equipment: Alloy road wheels (lockable), 3-way catalytic converter, coded signal immobiliser, vinyl hood, unique Lotus/Nardi steering wheel.
  metric (mm) English (in)
Wheel base 2300 mm 90.6"
Front track 1440 mm 56.7"
Rear track 1453 mm 57.2"
Overall length 3726 mm 146.7"
Overall width 1701 mm 67.0" (excluding mirrors)
Overall height 1202 mm 47.3"
Ground clearance 160 mm 6.3"
Fuel tank capacity   40 1/8.8 gal
Fuel grade   95 RON minimum
Unladen weight: 690 kg  
Weight distribution: 39/61 (% front/rear)
Options: Cloth hood, luggage boot bag, storage pockets, passenger footrest, metallic paint, radio fitting kit, leather trim seats, driving lamps, Thatcham One approved Cobra alarm immobiliser (UK only)