Lotus has revealed that it has begun development of the next generation Elise sports car which will return to the U.S market after several years.
Overall, sources are revealing that this upcoming Elise will be more of an evolutionary effort versus a straight up revolution. While it will still be an all new car from the ground up, it will also not waver from its role as an ultra lightweight sports coupe that makes no compromises for comfort or luxury.
However some of its compact design will be sacrificed with the new Elise being slightly wider to accommodate new side airbags which are mandated by U.S. law. It’ll also be slightly longer than before, but it will still weigh in at a featherweight 1,984 lbs.
As before, Toyota will supply Lotus with both engines and transmissions with Lotus offering a new automatic option to buyers for the first time ever. Rear wheel drive is standard fare which is fine with us since all-wheel drive would have added unnecessary amounts of flab.
The current generation Elise as well as its hardcore brother the Exige have not been street legal here in the U.S. for several years. But the new model is said to be designed with U.S. regulations in mind, which explains why the company is pushing the automatic variant to buyers that might be adverse to the idea of shifting their own gears. Lotus even claims that the U.S. market will eventually be its biggest market after the Elise is reintroduced.
That’s a bold claim, and at first glance it appears a bit over ambitious with current sales of the Evora 400 barely registering as a threat against more exotic competition. However, the revamped Elise will not only add volume to the brand’s sales, but also allow the small British company to lure younger buyers with a lower pricing ladder.
Buyers looking to eventually add one to their garage will have plenty of time to save money since the model is very early in the development phase. If things proceed as planned, look for the Elise to make its U.S. return in 2020, with sales kicking off shortly afterward.
Following up on its recent unveiling of the Elise Sport and the Sport 220 models, Lotus has unveiled the all new Exige Sport 350 which takes an extreme approach to weight savings and also brings more performance to the Exige formula.
The Exige Sport 350 shares much of its roots with the Exige S, but Lotus engineers have made some radical changes to make the 350 a more potent offering. An extreme diet serves as the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and is achieved thanks to a lighter battery, lighter engine mounts, lightweight center console pieces, lighter ducts for the air conditioning system, and a louvered tailgate panel. Lotus also claims that “optimized use of sound insalation” played a role in this diet but we suspect that roughly translates to it being removed from the car. As a result of this crash diet, the Sport 350 is about 112 lbs lighter than the base S variant. The interior largely retains what we have already seen in the base Exige, but the seats carryover the same polarizing flannel pattern that made its debut in the Elise Sport. Like that model, we prefer to have the seats in flat black.
Performance for the Sport 350 comes from a supercharged 3.5 liter V6 which is good for 345 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. With less flab to move around, the car can make the dash to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds when equipped with the optional six speed automatic transmission. Buyers that opt for the standard six speed manual gearbox adds a bit more to that figure, but both versions will feature a 170 mph top speed.
Lotus currently has no plans to sell the Exige Sport 350 in the U.S. (due to our country’s stricter safety regulations) but look for the car to slowly make its way to other global markets in February. A roadster variant is also in the pipeline, but look for it to arrive in March. When it eventually arrives in Lotus showrooms, the car will boast an MSRP of £55,900 ($84,850).
It’s no secret that many enthusiasts in the U.S. were disappointed when Lotus revealed that the current generation Elise would not be offered for sale several years ago. Since then the lightweight coupe has remained a tempting treat that is just out of reach, but Lotus has revealed a new model to covet at the Sport and the Sport 220 a pair of new models that aim to redefine what makes an Elise so desirable with enthusiasts.
Basically serving as a weight saving package, the base Elise Sport replaces the old standard model, and sheds 22 lbs of excess weight in the process. The end result is a curb weight of just over 1900 lbs which is paired nicely with the carryover 1.6 liter four cylinder which is good for a healthy 134 horsepower and an equally commendable 118 lb-ft of torque. This should help improve acceleration, while also allowing the car to access higher handling limits at the same time.
Meanwhile the Sport 220 boasts a slightly higher curb weight of 2,015 lbs, however this slight weight gain is easily forgiven since the 220 makes up for this handicap by offering more power. This is delivered by a 1.8 liter supercharged four cylinder that produces 217 horsepower and allows the 220 to make the sprint to 60 mph in a brisk 4.2 seconds (the base Elise does it in a slightly slower six seconds.)
“These two new models the Elise Sport and Sport 220 revive the iconic Sport naming designation and are both worthy of wearing this badge” stated Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Over the years with each improvement to the Elise, we have ensured that the purity of the driving experience has been retained and improved upon and with these two new models, we have taken it on to the next level.”
Buyers interested in owning one will be pleased to hear that the weight reduction and extra refinment will not come with a built in price increase. Lotus revealed that both models will actually be less expensive than their predecessors. The base Sport model now features a 39,990 euro ($42,761) price tag while the Sport 220 commands a slightly higher 48,700 euros($52,184.) The interior also retains its function over form design theme, though we hope that the base Sport model will feature interior color schemes that are less garish than the bright yellow plaid accents in the car Lotus featured in their press photos (we prefer the all black motif of the 220’s cabin.)
Lotus did not reveal which markets beyond its home European market, but the firm did reveal that a U.S. launch is not happening in the near future. Instead the company claims that a return to the U.S. could be possible when the next generation Elise makes its debut. If this is the case, U.S. buyers will have a long wait with reports suggesting that the car will not make an appearance till at least 2020.
The Lotus Exige V6 Cup has always been one of our favorite Lotus models here at the Autoinfoquest offices, and for those that want even more track slaying performance. Lotus has unveiled the elixir for those select few with the debut of the Lotus Exige S 360 Cup.
As it name suggests, the V6 Cup’s standard 3.5 liter Toyota cribbed V6 has been tweaked to produce 360 PS (355 horsepower) which is a 10 horse increase over the 345 horsepower wielded by the standard V6 Cup. Lotus claims that the extra muscle comes from revisions to both the air intake and the racing inspired exhaust system which not only frees up airflow, but also helps produce a “sportier soundtrack” as well.
In addition to the extra horsepower, Lotus engineers also revamped the cars suspension to help it achieve even higher levels of grip and high speed stability which are both important factors when pushing the 360 Cup through spirited track work. The 360 Cup features Ohlins racing spec dampers as well as a fully adjustable roll bar that should please weekend track warriors while supportive and optional FIA carbon fiber seats help keep occupants firmly in place.
The exterior styling of the 360 Cup retains many of the standard V6 Cup’s exterior styling but stands out by offering a lighter front access panel, rear tailgate, and a louvered panel that helps trim curb weight to a trim 2,491 lbs. The front splitter and rear wing are carried over from the standard V6 Cup, and help bring 93 lbs of additional down force when speeds reach 100 mph.
The interior also retains its basic V6 Cup roots, but buyers can opt for a bright red Alcantara interior scheme as well as air conditioning and other track focused equipment. Lotus plans to only build 50 examples of the 360 Cup with each copy featuring a base MSRP of £62,995 ($98,000) it is unclear if the 360 Cup will be sold outside of Europe but don’t expect it to arrive in the U.S. anytime soon due to our country’s stricter emission and safety regulations.