If any British carmaker has earned the right to celebrate its history every now and then, it's Lotus. The manufacturer's colourful past includes everything from pioneering lightweight performance machines to ultimate glory in motorsport’s top roster. It is the latter which is being revisited with the launch of four Elise Classic Heritage Editions, a limited production run that will come dressed in Grand Prix colours alongside an enhanced standard specification.
A total of 100 Elise specials will be built, with customer demand dictating how many of each edition fall into that number. We suspect the black and gold finish will be in hot demand for obvious reasons – while it lacks the JPS lettering, it’s arguably the most recognisable Lotus paint job ever. In this case the finish nods to Colin Chapman’s ground-breaking (and stunning)
That being said, domestic buyers may find themselves drawn to the red, white and gold Elise, which echoes the Type 49B that Graham Hill used in spectacular form to win the title in 1968. Or, perhaps, the blue, red and silver Elise, which is inspired by the Lotus Type 81 of 1980 that was driven by Nigel Mansell, as well as Elio de Angelis and Mario Andretti. The Cosworth-powered racer didn’t achieve the success of its predecessors, but damn it looked cool.
Each Heritage Edition is based on the Elise Sport 220, so it gets a 1.8-lite four-cylinder with 217hp, a six-speed manual and sub-930kg kerbweight, so it can hit 62mph in 4.6 seconds. But the standard spec is bolstered with ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels and two-piece disc brakes, as well as mod-cons including four-speaker DAB radio, air-con and cruise control. The Elise interior colour pack is also thrown in, with trim matched to the exterior colour, and you even get floor mats as standard. Blimey.
All four versions of this Classic Heritage Edition run cost £46,250 each, £6,350 more than a standard Elise Cup 220, but with £11,735 of extra kit, so there’s value – as well as F1 cool – to be had from this offering. Customers can go further, of course, speccing a fibreglass hardtop, lightweight lithium-ion battery and titanium exhaust for ‘added lightness’.
Head of product marketing, Ema Forster, said the Elise special editions are here to celebrate Lotus’s motorsport successes and reputation of building pure drivers’ road cars by “bringing these two pillars of our brand together”. Frankly we're more interested the firm's newly exciting future than its increasingly distant past - but Lotus has earned the right to sit on its laurels one more time before we finally get to the launch of new metal.