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Lotus celebrates Elise's 20th birthday. Image by Lotus.

Lotus celebrates Elise's 20th birthday
Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition is lightweight collector's piece.
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What's all this about?

You might think we're making this up, but the Lotus Elise is 20 years old. The world first saw it at the Frankfurt Motor Show way back in September 1995.

Wow, I didn't think it had been around that long. But why are you telling me this nugget of info?

Because Lotus has done a special edition of the current model to celebrate this momentous occasion. And it has called it the, er, Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition. Which is about as straightforward a name as it could get.

What makes this different to an Elise S?

On the outside, a lot of matte black detailing - the lightweight, forged alloy wheels, rear diffuser, wing mirror, roll hoop cover and rear transom are all in this colour. Talking of hues, there are four to choose from for the body and the naming policy for these is as refreshingly honest as that for the entire car: take your pick from Blue, Green, Yellow or Silver. Decals to mark out the 20th Anniversary can be found above the side repeaters and there are discreet driving lamps in the front grille, which hark back to the original Elise.

Has the interior changed a lot?

The sports seats are thinner and lighter in weight, as is the centre console - which is also painted in whichever exterior colour you've plumped for. Upholstery choices are leather or Alcantara with colour-coded stitching. The 20th Anniversary decal can be found on the stereo blanking plate, as a CD/radio with USB connectivity and an NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) Pack is a £1,200 option. Air conditioning will set you back a further £1,250.

Are there a lot of options?

No, that's your lot, save for a hard top - which is also £1,200. However, Lotus says there is £5,150 worth of extra kit on this compared to a regular Elise S, but the 20th Anniversary SE is a mere £2,700 more at £39,900.

Right, you've prevaricated enough now. Has it got a load more power?

No. Sorry. It uses the same 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine as an Elise S, making 220hp and 250Nm. That means its benchmark performance stats are unchanged, with 0-62mph coming up in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 145mph; these are hardly shabby numbers, though. Lotus does claim ever-so-slightly improved green figures, as, despite the combined economy remaining unchanged at 37.5mpg, the CO2 emissions fall from 175- to 173g/km and the extra-urban economy creeps up to 47.6mpg. This is because the 20th Anniversary SE is 10kg lighter than the S, standing at 914kg.

Have you got anything else to add?

There's a sport mode that increases throttle response and alters the point at which the traction control intervenes, to allow the driver more enjoyment of the mid-engined, rear-drive chassis. If you like the sounds of all this, you can order the Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition now.

Matt Robinson - 19 Mar 2015    - Lotus road tests
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