RE: Lotus Elise Sprint: Review

RE: Lotus Elise Sprint: Review

Thursday 27th April 2017

Lotus Elise Sprint: Review

Sprint spec for the new Elise lightens the car by 26kg and your wallet by £5K - is it worth it?



Falling back on the stats when attempting to convey how a car goes is an obvious trap. But seeing as this is the internet and we will have to address them at some point, let's get the number crunching for the new Elise Sprint out of the way now.

You can have your new Elise as a 'Sport' in standard 136hp 1.6 naturally-aspirated or 220hp 1.8 supercharged form, the latter known as Sport 220. As a baseline the car is 10kg lighter with this facelift but for another £5,000 you can upgrade to Sprint spec on either car, potentially saving a further 26kg. By Lotus's definition of 'motorsport dry' (a tank of fuel away from driveable, basically) a 1.6 Elise Sprint weighs just 798kg, making it the lightest car homologated for sale in Europe. Options like the carbon dash, sill tops and roof panel offer further weight savings for the truly committed as well.

£37,300. 136hp. Hmm...
£37,300. 136hp. Hmm...
At which point you'll probably be hitting the comment button to say "Bravo, well done Lotus!" Because, as a true PH driving god, you'll recognise that fewer kilos on a spec sheet matter as much as extra horsepower out there in that 'real world'. And you'll rightly celebrate Lotus for steering us away from the pointless obsession with horsepower we can't enjoy, 0-62 times we'll never use and 'ring lap ability with no supposed relevance to driving down the shops.

Add lightness
Until such point as you set the £37,300 price for the purist-spec, naturally-aspirated Sprint against the 136hp and 118lb ft delivered by its 1.6-litre engine. How can Lotus possibly think charging so much for so little adds up in this day and age?

Time to put the spec sheet down, stop obsessing over the numbers and actually drive it. That £5,000 premium for the Sprint goes a long way to making this back to basics Lotus the truest expression of the brand's values since the original S1 Elise. It includes a lightweight lithium-ion battery, carbon fibre seats, carbon rear deck, polycarbonate rear screen, lightweight wheels and a host of detail improvements front to back. These on top of the changes applied across the Elise range, including that nifty exposed gearshift linkage - more expensive but a kilo saved in itself - a new front clam and a simpler rear end with single rather than paired lights.

The result is perhaps the cleanest and best looking Elise since that original. Cynics will argue Lotus hasn't really moved the game on since then. But with Alfa Romeo and - soon - Alpine joining the lightweight, mid-engined sports car game, Lotus is arguably well-positioned to capitalise on wider interest in such cars.

Now this is a Sport 220, not a Sprint 220, OK?
Now this is a Sport 220, not a Sprint 220, OK?
Same but less so
We'll have to see what Alpine brings to the game but from the first click-clack of the manual shifter to the weight and response of the tiny, Alcantara-clad wheel, it's obvious how much of a lead Lotus has here. Fresh out of a 4C you'll relish the simplicity of the contact points, the way feedback filters back through that wheel in a smooth flow rather than violent jerks and tugs. Plus the interaction through the manual gearbox and its beautifully positioned, beautifully weighted aluminium pedals. Yes, all three of them.

Can a car with just 136hp really prove to be the pick of the range though? It's a test of your purist convictions, for sure, but compared with the Sprint 220 on fatter track rubber the steering feels instantly lighter and more communicative. On the standard wheels the front tyres are just 175 section against the 195 of the optional Yokohama A048s, and there's a beautiful delicacy that instantly communicates the value in every saved kilo.

Remember, this 1.6 is nearly 100kg less than the carbon-tubbed 4C. OK, it's significantly down on power. But a 220hp Sprint 220 fuelled and with an averagely built driver onboard is, give or take, going to tip the scales at the same as the Alfa Romeo's claimed dry weight. Advantage most definitely Hethel. The Alpine? Another 200kg at least.

This is a Sprint 220!
This is a Sprint 220!
Home advantage
Out on the Hethel test track the 220's performance advantage basically equates to being a gear up on the naturally-aspirated car through the faster corners and up the straights. Yes, it's that decisive. If not as frenzied as the older Elise SC and Exige with the higher-revving 2ZZ-GE Toyota 1.8, this current engine has decent response and plenty of mid-range to permit hauling from a higher gear - handy because the redline often comes sooner than you'd have wanted and it's good to have the headroom in the powerband on corner exit.

Gearing is closely stacked, which is no chore because this is the best manual shift of any modern Lotus. The transverse layout traditionally presents challenges but after 20 years Lotus has nailed it, the smaller engine and lighter clutch making the shift feel shorter, tighter and more precise than in the V6 Exige and Evoras with the same set-up. It really is a lovely thing to operate, the long shifter moving precisely and the gates accurately defined as the exposed mechanism moves through its action. The click-clack of the clutch pedal going up and down and the shifter moving around all punctuate the cornering process, reinforcing the sense of connection that the paddle-operated dual-clutches in the 4C and Alpine will never be able to replicate.

Yes, it's expensive. But it is really, really good.
Yes, it's expensive. But it is really, really good.
Basic is best?
If it's good in the supercharged car it's even better in the 1.6. What you lose in horsepower you gain in response, the speed and accuracy with which you can rev-match your way around the gears absolutely delightful. The motor sounds better, if hardly inspirational. But the lack of inertia in the controls and car itself means tiny, detail inputs can be felt instinctively.

Grip on the narrower tyres is less than on the 220. But that brings with it delicacy and adjustability to the handling. The 1.6 moves around on its contact patches in a truly delightful fashion, weight shifts from steering and throttle inputs easily exploited to get the grip to where you most need it. That'll be over the front wheels as you approach a corner, trailed brakes helping on turn in, a lift tucking it in if you've been too ambitious. If you're heavy handed you might need a correction but the Elise's natural instinct is to pull straight and it's on the safe side of playful.

Hand on heart, if you want a car with the performance to match the looks then the supercharged 220 is the Elise to go for. But for the true believers it's nice to see Lotus offering a modern-day machine in keeping with its long-held minimalist ideals. And if you delight in the finer detail of feel and feedback the 1.6 in Sprint spec is a lesson - admittedly an expensive one - in how less really can be more.


LOTUS ELISE SPORT/ELISE SPRINT (2017)
Engine:
1,598cc 4-cyl
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 136@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 118@4,400rpm
0-62mph: 6.5sec/6.2sec
Top speed: 127mph
Weight: 856kg/830kg ('kerb'; 798kg by 'lowest possible dry weight')
MPG: 44.8
CO2: 149g/km
Price: £32,300/£37,300

LOTUS ELISE SPORT 220/ELISE SPRINT 220 (2017)
Engine:
1,798cc 4-cyl, supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 220@6,800
Torque (lb ft): 184@4,600
0-62mph: 4.6sec/4.5sec
Top speed: 145mph
Weight: 904kg/878kg ('kerb'; 845kg by 'lowest possible dry weight')
MPG: 37.7
CO2: 173g/km
Price: £39,300/£44,300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

Porsche911R

Original Poster:

13,840 posts

193 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
£44k for the Sprint 220 + options of at least 4.5k aggg even more if you want the £3k carbon hard top or £1.5k disks.
I'll not mention the £3.5k exhaust option lol

I so wanted one as a toy thought it was £37k but that's the base model :-(

So hard to see where the £5k goes over the new Sport 220 was expecting the sprint 220 to be fully loaded standard at £44.3k

best car they have made for ages imo but the prices are not easy to swallow once speced up.

Looks like I'll be on the hunt for a older CUP 220, 3k to give it 260BHP and save the extra £10k for some wes and coke as normal.

Edited by Porsche911R on Thursday 27th April 12:29

CABC

1,810 posts

29 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Afternoon David.

Vroom101

797 posts

61 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
I'll have the 1.6 in Sky Blue, thanks.

Yes it's not cheap if you include all the optional extras, but Lotus are only doing what all other sports car makers have been doing for years. If you're going to criticise them for it, then you must do the same for Porsche, Ferrari and the rest.

As it stands, nobody offers what Lotus do with the Elise. Rivals have had twenty years to bring out an alternative but none have managed to nail the thrill/comfort/usability/value in one package like Lotus have.

Europa1

6,083 posts

116 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Strange sense of deja vu with the OP's comments...

DeltonaS

1,399 posts

66 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Nice advertorial.....

How much die Lotus pay for this article ?
Advertisement

brianashley

500 posts

13 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
DeltonaS said:
Nice advertorial.....

How much die Lotus pay for this article ?
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DeltonaS

1,399 posts

66 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Porsche911R said:
best car they have made for ages imo but the prices are not easy to swallow once speced up.
Plus I'm 6'2 and can hardly fit in them, let alone with two persons.

suffolk009

3,578 posts

93 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Lovely, lovely looking car.

I think time will tell whether the 1.6 or the 1.8 is the one to have. I remember when ordering a new Caterham Superlight years ago I wanted the 1.6, everyone said it was the one to have - the sweet spot of the range. I was very happy with it. Then they brought out the mental Superlight R500 (K series). I traded in the Superlight and almost instantly regretted it. The 1.6 was indeed the sweet spot. Try finding a s/h one now!

As for prices of extras, yes, a previous poster got it right - everybody is at it. I wrote on todays Porsche article that the price of a bit of red tape top dead centre on your steeing wheel (like rally drivers have) is apparently, wait for it, .... £168.

Oh, and I thought dry weight was more typically weight of the car without ANY fluids.

But, with a new Elise coming in three years you'd really need to own a car now not to wait for that. On the other hand will the new Elise be turbo-charged? If it is, then these Sprints may represent the apogee of the Elise. It may be at the top of it's game.

Edited by suffolk009 on Thursday 27th April 13:52

cib24

592 posts

81 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
The new styling is top notch. I really like it. Mid-£40k though when I can get the Exige for just a bit more and a used Evora 400 for mid £50s? Hmm...Pricing in the £30s makes more sense to me. Low £30s for the base car and up to say just under £40k for the Sprint 220 would be more suitable I think.

But people will still buy it because it's a great car and the best iteration yet.

CABC

1,810 posts

29 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
suffolk009 said:
Lovely, lovely looking car.

I think time will tell whether the 1.6 or the 1.8 is the one to have. I remember when ordering a new Caterham Superlight years ago I wanted the 1.6, everyone said it was the one to have - the sweet spot of the range. I was very happy with it. Then they brought out the mental Superlight R500 (K series). I traded in the Superlight and almost instantly regretted it. The 1.6 was indeed the sweet spot. Try finding a s/h one now!

As for prices of extras, yes, a previous poster got it right - everybody is at it. I wrote on todays Porsche article that the price of a bit of red tape top dead centre on your steeing wheel (like rally drivers have) is apparently, wait for it, .... £168.

Oh, and I thought dry weight was more typically weight of the car without ANY fluids.

But, with a new Elise coming in three years you'd really need to own a car now not to wait for that. On the other hand will the new Elise be turbo-charged? If it is, then these Sprints may represent the apogee of the Elise. It may be at the top of it's game.

Edited by suffolk009 on Thursday 27th April 13:52
Agree
For road use a 1.6 with a little induction & exhaust tuning is a finely balanced machine.
SC for track, but no benefit for the road imo.
The new car may be forced into turbo, but it will suffer even with today's improved turbo chargers. Maybe in a few years turbos and hybrids will be very good, but I fear that the 2020 Elise might be their 718. Progress can be a bumpy ride.

Cold

4,128 posts

18 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Autocar recently ran an article stating how the residuals of modern Elises are the best in their sector. So the whole-life costs of ownership aren't going to be as bad as the initial up front purchase price might suggest.

spikyone

159 posts

28 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
That grey, with those red bits - what an absolutely stunning looking thing! cloud9
The red with silver flashes that's on their homepage at the moment is gorgeous too.

If I had the money, and something to use when I needed some practicality, I'd have one in a heartbeat. Lotus are in fine form at the moment, it's really heartening to see and I sincerely hope they're selling these as fast as they can get them through the factory.

SFO

4,562 posts

111 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
cib24 said:
The new styling is top notch. I really like it.
+1

Roma101

450 posts

75 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Funnily enough, I was looking at these on the website the other day, considering whether I should get a test drive. Then the same thing that has happened every previous time I have gone to the website happened again. I couldn't find any details on pricing and lost interest.

It seems such a simple thing. For mere mortals, price is the determining factor and so why is this not on the website?

(If I am being a numpty, please could someone point me in the right direction).

Cold

4,128 posts

18 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Roma101 said:
Funnily enough, I was looking at these on the website the other day, considering whether I should get a test drive. Then the same thing that has happened every previous time I have gone to the website happened again. I couldn't find any details on pricing and lost interest.

It seems such a simple thing. For mere mortals, price is the determining factor and so why is this not on the website?

(If I am being a numpty, please could someone point me in the right direction).
Contact a Lotus main dealer. The manufacturer's website is powered by coal.

underphil

824 posts

138 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
can't help thinking an easier way to make it weigh less would've been to use a lighter engine

How would the 1.5 Skyactiv compare against the 1.6 I wonder

dvb70

48 posts

35 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
@ Cold Indeed I just contacted a Lotus dealer direct and had a test drive arranged the next day. I also found in relation to price you can normally knock around £3000-£4000 off the asking price. If I am remembering right I got a fully optioned Sport 220 which was listed at something like £43000 for just under £40000. I believe it was due to the 50/50 finance deal I took that I got that level of discount. That's the deal when you pay 50% straight away and the remaining 50% two years later with no repayments or interest.



Edited by dvb70 on Thursday 27th April 15:51

cib24

592 posts

81 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Standart Sprint 136 PS

Lowest possible dry weight 798 kg
Dry weight 803 kg
Kerb weight 830 kg

Sprint 220, 220 PS

Lowest possible dry weight 845 kg
Dry weight 851 kg
Kerb weight 878 kg

Starting Prices for the Various Models

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price
Elise Sport £32,300
Elise Sprint £37,300
Elise Sport 220 £39,300
Elise Sprint 220 £44,300
Elise Cup 250 £47,400

suffolk009

3,578 posts

93 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Cold said:
Autocar recently ran an article stating how the residuals of modern Elises are the best in their sector. So the whole-life costs of ownership aren't going to be as bad as the initial up front purchase price might suggest.
I've been looking closely at the Exige V6 second hand market recently. The cheapest car around seems to be a small handful of change less than £40k. Thats for a 2013 Exige S with 10k miles. The nearest new equivalent now is £55k,and this particular car was probably less than that originally - I don't know exactly. That's what, 27% depreciation in 4 years.

If only these things depreciated like the base model Porsches, I'd be in a second hand one right now!

DPSFleet

188 posts

89 months

Thursday 27th April 2017
quotequote all
Trouble is they get "old" very quickly, put 20k miles on mine over 5 years despite regular specialist servicing and it was then just full of clunks and rattles. Go for a boxster.