And just like all the best gastronomic wonders, the recipe for this 2015 Elise S Cup is utterly straightforward. You take the latest version of the regular, garden variety 220hp Elise S, steal the suspension from the minimalist Club Racer and then add the AP brakes and aerodynamic package from the hardcore, limited-warranty, race-only, Lotus Motorsport Elise Cup R.
Ta-da! You've just built yourself a 2015 Lotus Elise S Cup. Now add some details like a single exhaust tip, logo'd seats, and matt silver wing mirror covers. You're done. You've got the most hardcore Lotus Elise to ever be road legal and fully warrantied.
Now, the really clever bit is in what you can't see. It's how Lotus has managed to make this the most balanced, most focused, track day ready Elise we've driven since the original (and far more hardcore) S1 Motorsports Elise.
We could talk about the optional FIA roll cage, kill switches and fire extinguisher systems that are nothing but a tick of an option sheet away. But if you want to go that far, just buy the full race car.
It's great to see the old arts aren't dead. Good old Colin could both conform to, and ridicule, the F1 rulebook with every race car he built. It's easy to believe that today's Lotus boffins have managed to do the same when they built this to global homologation standards.
Though it's no FIA GT3 car (or even that Motorsports Elise - which could make over 80kg at 100mph) it's still a whole world away from most other road legal track day specials. And not only have the guys at Lotus Motorsport added lap time improving downforce, they've also kept the wonderful balance of the Elise S at all speeds. Whether it's feeling your way into that fourth-gear right hander, or tossing it into a second-gear hairpin, the Elise never fails to delight with its predictability and naughtiness.
The cockpit is predictably Spartan, offering less creative inspiration than a VAT inspector's Filofax. But at least the buttons include the latest versions of the much improved Lotus stability control (Dynamic Performance Management). There's on, Sport and off. No hyper-intelligent self-teaching race mode like the Exige S though.
The step over the alloy sills and the cramped cockpit are just as uniquely Lotus now as they were in 1997. And for the taller amongst you, substitute the word unique with rubbish, because the Elise is still rather selective in choosing its drivers.
But if those are the only old carrots to be found lurking in this Lotus parts bin casserole, then it's no big deal. Because it's still so good that you'll always be coming back for seconds, thirds, and even fourths. Especially when they're flat out in the wet.
LOTUS ELISE S CUP
Engine: 1,798cc 4-cyl, supercharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 220@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@4,600rpm
0-62mph: 4.6 sec
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: 932kg ("Unladen")
MPG: 37.5mpg (Standard S, NEDC combined)
CO2: 175g/km (Standard S)
Price: £43,500 including VAT, plus OTR charges (£47,744 as tested comprising standard fit hardtop; air-con £1,250; Comfort pack including four-speaker stereo, branded carpet mats, sound insulation, aluminium passenger foot rest, driving lights and central locking £1,200* and forged motorsport wheels £1,794)
*Comfort Pack not compatible with fire extinguisher/kill switch option