2011 Lotus Elise: pics and specs

Lotus (which we really should talk more about here) has bestowed upon us news on the 2011 Elise, the latest version of the consummate roadster from the Norfolk gents. The bog standard model will feature a 1.6 liter Toyota engine that puts out roughly 134 HP, while the top of the range, the Elise SC, will sport a 1.8 supercharged engine that produces 217 HP.  That gives the SC a 0-60 of 4.3 secs, with a top speed of 145 mph.

The key to the performance and efficiency of the new Toyota engine is the Valvematic system (a variable valve lift mechanism), which is combined with the dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent). The engine continuously controls intake valve opening/closing timing and the intake valve lift to vary the volume of the intake airflow, giving significant improvements in efficiency and fuel economy. This ensures optimal performance based on the engines operational condition,  helping the Elise achieve both high fuel efficiency and high performance.

Max power output is achieved at near 6800 rpm and maximum torque (a respectable 160 Nm, 118 lb.ft) is reached at 4400 rpm. This makes for a good combination of mid range pull but also encourages the driver to rev the engine to the redline of 7000 rpm . Like all Elise sportscars, there are three shift up lights, on the binnacle cumulatively lighting when the driver is getting closer to the rev limiter. When all three light up, they’ll flash, signaling the ideal upshift moment.

If Lotus cars are synonymous with anything, it’s most definitely handling. The entry level Lotus Elise weighs 876 kg, making it one of the lightest fully homologated sportscars in the world. The low weight translates into efficient performance with minimal fuel consumption, and a little horsepower goes a long way. The delicacy and accuracy of the steering, throttle and brakes of the Elise and all of these factors are what contribute the “rides on rails” reputation.

Some key changes to the 2011 models are the body design changes (more on that in a moment), new all in one headlights with LED day running lights and indicators, new cast and forged wheels, and an extended warranty.

The body changes not only update the Elise to match the Evora’s style, but also reduce the drag coefficient by 4%, improving speed and fuel economy. It may not seem like much, but a little goes a long way in racing.  What I can’t shake is that, yes, the Elise’s new look has been evolved from Evora design, but I can’t help thinking that the front end looks more closely related to a different sports car…

I dunno, I could be alone in thinking this. If you agree that the new Elise is the milkman’s kid, drop me a comment. And if you think I’m way off, do the same, I’m eager to see what your thoughts are.

-Alex K-

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February 2010
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