One of the best lightweight sports cars just got better.
The legendary Lotus Elise is regarded as one of the best lightweight sports cars, a reputation it’s maintained for over 20 years since the first model launched back in 1996. While we’ll still have to wait until 2020 for an all-new Elise, Lotus is planning to release new editions of the current model until then, despite it being over 15 years old now. If there’s one car that didn’t need to lose any more weight, it’s the Elise – but that’s exactly what’s happened with the new Lotus Elise Sprint. It’s so lean that Lotus managed to shed another 41 kg off the previous Elise Sport.
The result is a dry weight of just 789 kg - that's the most dramatic weight loss since the first-generation Elise. A number of new lightweight components contributed to its diet regime: a lithium-Ion battery saves 9 kg, while new carbon race seats shed another 6 kg. New lightweight forged alloy wheels save another 5 kg, while the carbon access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, and polycarbonate rear screen save 6 kg. Shedding a further 10 kg are improvements being introduced across the entire Elise range. The front and rear has been redesigned, with the front gaining a new lightweight front clam panel with wider radiator apertures and mesh pattern grille.
Not only does this make it more aggressive, it saves an extra 8.7 kg. At the rear are two rear light clusters rather than four, and the reversing and fog lights are mounted inboard for a cleaner look. Lotus says these changes improve the aerodynamic drag and increase stability. It also sports an exposed manual shifter first seen in the Exige Sport 350. To get the Elise Sprint down to its optimum weight, you’ll need to fit it with optional two-piece brake discs that save 4 kg and optional carbon sill covers. “Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car," Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Lotus, commented.
"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.” The result of all this excessive weight loss? As the name implies, the Elise Sprint offers brisker acceleration. Positioned between the Lotus Elise Sport and Cup 250, two engine options are available: a naturally-aspirated 1.6-liter and a supercharged 1.8-liter unit.
The former produces 134-hp, 118 lb-ft of torque, and a 0-60 mph sprint time of 5.9 seconds, while the latter gets a power increase to 217-hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph takes 4.1 seconds. The 1.8-liter supercharged model produces better exhaust notes too – Lotus says it’s the “best-sounding 4-cylinder car on the market.” The Lotus Elise Sprint will go on sale in the UK this spring with deliveries starting in April. The 1.6-liter Sprint is priced at 37,300 GBP ($46,115), while the 1.8-liter will sell for 44,300 GBP ($54,759), but there’s no word on a US release. Given Lotus’s track record, we wouldn’t bank on that happening any time soon.