Lotus Elise

From Academic Kids

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The 2005 Lotus Elise (Federal edition) sports car

The Lotus Elise is an open sports car, renowned for its lightweight design and race-capable handling. Conceived in early 1994, and introduced in September of 1995, the Lotus Elise was named after then Lotus Car company Chairman Romano Artioli's granddaughter, "Elisa". The car has a hand finished fiberglass body shell atop its innovative aluminium extrusion frame that provides a rigid platform for the suspension, while keeping weight and production costs to a minimum.


Series 1

The design philosophy of Lotus is "Performance through light weight", a philosophy first adopted by the founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman. The motto drives Lotus to obtain very high performance with lightweight cars in spite of their relatively modest power outputs, with a strong emphasis on driving purity and dynamics. This concept was taken to an extreme by the London-based engineer Max David.

The result is a sports car which weighed in at less than 680 kg (1500 lb). The production version of the 1996 Lotus Elise tipped the scales at an unprecedented 675 kg (1488 lb). Compare this to a Porsche Boxster which is also considered to be an extremely lightweight sportscar but weighs nearly twice as much - 1250 kg (2756 lb).

As a result the Elise's acceleration, braking and cornering (all of which are improved by reductions in a car's weight) was nothing short of astonishing in spite of the fact that the engine put out a relatively modest 120 bhp (89 kW). Compare that to 201 bhp (149 kW) produced by the 1997 Porsche Boxter.

Although high-tech, it represented affordable cost of ownership for sportscar lovers on a budget who still wanted performance and looks.


The original Elise, called the Series 1 was augmented by a faster edition called the 111S, named after the Lotus type-number of the Elise - M111. The 111S was introduced in early 1999 and contained the VVC engine, rather than the standard Rover 1.8 L K-series unit.


In 2000, the 340R limited edition model, based on a Series 1 Elise was introduced. This roofless car was a special edition, limited to only 340 cars being built.


Also in 2000, Lotus introduced the Exige - a hardtop version of the Elise with the 177 bhp (131 kW) engine from the 340R.

Series 2

Announced on October 9th 2000, the Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the still-born M250 project and was the first Lotus to be designed on computer. The Series 2 Elise is built on the same production line created for the Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster in a new facility at Hethel. Both cars share many parts including the chassis although they have totally different drivetrains and powerplants.


Launched in 2004, the Series 2 Exige, based on the Series 2 Elise will come with a Toyota engine, rather than the Honda/Rover K-series engine used since 1996 in the Elise.


The version of the Elise sold in North America, called the Federal Elise (Elise 111R in Europe), is powered exclusively by the all-aluminum 190 hp (141 kW) Yamaha-designed Toyota-produced 2ZZ-GE engine, and is acclaimed as the best version of the Elise to date, with tremendous performance numbers (0-60 mph in 4.4 s) with no reduction in reliability.

The 2005 Lotus Elise was the first to be distributed commercially in the United States, in the summer of 2004. Approval for the Elise however required intervention by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who provided a three-year exemption for the car as it had failed to meet US regulations even after 14 million worth of modifications. The next-generation Elise, due in 2007, will be required to comply with the rules unless Lotus gets an exemption extension, like it did on multiple occasions with it's previous USA distributed car, the Esprit.

See also

sv:Lotus Elise


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