Lotus has unveiled the significantly updated 2017 Lotus Elise range ahead of its European launch in April 2017, including the new and even lighter Sprint edition.
Featuring a host of weight-saving items as standard and the revised styling from the Elise range, the Sprint hits the scale at just 798kg (dry weight) – 41kg lighter than the standard model. According to Lotus, every single one of the Sprint’s lightweight components can also be specified on the regular Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 variants.
Integrating a new front and rear aesthetic with Lotus’ established design language, the latest Elise also receives a wide range of cabin enhancements – including the lightweight open-gate gear select mechanism first introduced on the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The Sprint is available in both the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated and 1.8-litre supercharged versions. Delivering an exciting mid-point in the range, it is said to broaden the car’s appeal by including lightweight and carbon components as standard.
Speaking of the new car Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc. said, “Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car. Whilst other manufacturers try to keep pace with Lotus’ weight reduction achievements, we’ve raised the bar beyond their reach. An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and, it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800 kg barrier.”
Jean-Marc Gales continued, “Enhanced by less weight, the Elise now provides even more driving purity, greater agility and higher all-round performance. As we say at Hethel: less weight equals more Lotus.”
The Sprint sits above the Elise Sport models, and below the top of the range Elise Cup 250 in the Elise lineup.
Its lightweight components include a Lithium-Ion battery, saving 9 kg, Lotus’ beautifully detailed carbon race seats, 6 kg, new lightweight forged alloy wheels, 5 kg, while the carbon access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, and polycarbonate rear screen save 6 kg. Collectively they cut an impressive 26 kg, compared to the previous Sport and Sport 220 models, and together with the improvements made to the whole Elise range bring the weight of the new Elise Sprint down to just 798 kg (dry). This includes new, optional two-piece brake discs, saving 4 kg, which will be available from May this year and optional carbon sill covers (-0.8 kg). This reduction in weight translates into quicker acceleration (with 0-60 mph (0-97km/h) in 5.9 seconds and 4.1 seconds for the Elise Sprint and Elise Sprint 220 respectively), harder cornering and a power to weight ratio of up to 124kW / tonne (Elise Sprint) and 189kW hp / tonne (Elise Sprint 220).
Lotus engineers have also tuned the new Elise’s sound track, with the 1.8-litre supercharged Elise claiming to be the best-sounding 4-cylinder car on the market.
External design touches for the Sprint range include a matt black transom panel, black wheels which come with custom contrasting metal spun rims, distinctive yet subtle side stripes on the bodywork and unique side and rear badging.
Other highlights comprise bodywork keyed colour inserts for the sports seats, transmission console and HVAC surround, along with Sprint badge stitching. The Sprint’s detailing continues inside with an array of optional Alcantara trim panels on the doors, sills, seats and vents surrounds, all with contrasting stitching.
As well as a new Elise Sprint edition, the whole of the new Elise line-up benefits from a range of improvements, which includes a 10 kg mass reduction thanks to a number of new components. Changes to the body including a redesigned lightweight front clam panel, with wider radiator apertures and mesh pattern grille provide a more aggressive aspect and 8.7 kg less weight. The new design of rear transom panel now has two rear light clusters, rather than four, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard so reducing weight by 0.3 kg and visually enhancing the rear design.
Modifications front and back are more than skin deep and have allowed the careful balancing of aerodynamic downforce across the whole car. Rubber elements mounted on the flat underside and ahead of the front wheel, together with an additional diffuser vane at the rear, help modify airflow under the car reducing drag and increasing stability.
In addition to injecting some visual drama into the new Elise’s cabin, Lotus’ beautifully detailed open-gate manual gearbox also provides a much more positive and direct operation -giving more precise and quicker shifting. Both technically and aesthetically appealing, thanks to the exposed open-gate design, it further reduces weight with a net saving of 1 kg.
The cabin also benefits from a new centre console, as seen on the Exige and optional carbon sill covers which reduce weight by 0.8 kg and increase the door aperture by up to 10 mm, aiding ingress and egress. The Elise’s instrument panel has also received attention and a new in-car entertainment system, including optional iPod connectivity and Bluetooth functionality.
Options for the new car include Alcantara trimmed steering wheel, vent-surrounds and sills. Further enhancement can be specified, including a new paintwork colour: “Electric Light Blue” joining the Lotus core colour range.
The new Elise Sport and Sprint are available in two engine options: the 1.6-litre or the supercharged 1.8-litre. Offering 99kW/160 Nm of torque and 160kW/250 Nm of torque respectively. Being so lightweight, emissions are extremely low with 149 g / km CO2 and 173 g / km CO2 for the 1.6 engine and 1.8 engines respectively
Stopping power is provided by AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembo single-piston rear-calipers – optional lightweight two-piece brake discs are also available. All cars benefit from userselectable ESP driving modes – Drive / Sport / Off.
The car retains its extruded and bonded aluminium chassis weighing just 68 kg. The new Elise also 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 effective spring rate is marginally increased.
A new version of the Elise’s most popular model, the Cup 250, will be released in May 2017 in Europe. Also, incorporating all the Elise range updates, the Elise Cup 250 model is a massive 23 kg lighter than its predecessor, with lightweight options including a Carbon Aero pack, front access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover to take this to 40 kg.
Australian on sale date to be confirmed.