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Lotus legends bow out in style. Image by Lotus.

Lotus legends bow out in style
Final Edition limited models for Lotus Elise and Exige ranges, in their last calendar year of production.
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What's all this about?

It was with no small degree of sadness that we read of Lotus' decision to call an end to production of its fabled Elise and Exige lines, after 25 and 21 years of production respectively. Both of these two brilliant Lotus sports cars will bow out during 2021, along with the equally excellent Evora, as the Norfolk-based company looks to move into a new and electrified era. So, rather than mourn the loss of the Elise and Exige, let us celebrate their legacy instead by enjoying these Final Edition cars. And, just before we move on, know that the Evora will also receive valedictory model in the immediate future; it's just that Lotus hasn't decided quite what that will look like as yet.

Fair enough. Want to start with the Elise?

Sure thing. Two models are offered, called the Sport 240 Final Edition and the Cup 250 Sport Edition. The latter, mechanically speaking, isn't changed from a non-Final Edition Cup 250, but the former has gained some extra power. It's up by 23hp from Elises like the old Sprint 220, to a peak of 243hp with 244Nm to back it up. Both Elise Final Editions, however, have what is said to be the 'most extensive interior and exterior equipment' of any model seen in the past quarter-of-a-century of production.

The major change comes in the form of a TFT digital dashboard with two different read-outs, while a flat-bottomed, leather-and-Alcantara-clad steering wheel is also drafted into play. Both Elise Final Editions come with a special, commemorative plaque in the cabin, as well as fresh seat trim with different patterns of stitching. Outside, some heritage colours are offered - like Azure Blue, the shade being used on early production cars back in 1996, or Black, which was the colour of the motorsport division when it ran the Autobytel Lotus Elise Championship race series, or Racing Green, a direct homage to the hue deployed on the original Frankfurt Motor Show car, way back in 1995. Aside from this, ten-spoke Anthracite forged alloys are brought into play, reducing unsprung weight on the Sport 240 FE.

Right-o. And what about the Exige?

All three variants gain the FE treatment too, which means new decals, two new wheel finishes, unique paint choices, a redesigned steering wheel and seats, and the same TFT digital dash as found in the Elise. Again, one model remains the same as it was before in the main: the sublime yet hardcore Cup 430 is mechanically unchanged by the FE amendments. But both the base Sport 350 and the artist formerly known as the Sport 410 have become the Exige Sport 390 Final Edition and the Exige Sport 420 Final Edition. Oddly enough, the former goes up by a significant 48hp to 403hp and 420Nm, so Lotus could have happily called it the Sport 400 (but the company prefers to deal in bhp, and as the least powerful Exige FE has 397bhp then the company has underplayed the badge numeric somewhat), but the latter has 10hp more for a 426hp maximum - don't worry, it didn't have 410hp before, it had 416hp. So the FE now has, yes, 426hp. Good maths, there.

The two additional and bespoke colours offered here are Metallic White, seen on the unveiling of the V6 Exige at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 (that was ten years ago?!), while the Exige GT3 Concept of the 2007 Geneva Motor Show lends its Metallic Orange paintwork to the FE run-out cars. Also, the first-ever press-fleet Exige back in 2000 was finished in Metallic Orange, so there's a nice link to the start of the mid-engined machine's life there. Anyway, any Exige Final Edition will hit 62mph from rest in comfortably less than four seconds and will go on to at least 172mph where permitted, so they're all deeply fast. And talented, natch.

Finally, prices. The Elise Sport 240 Final Edition costs from £45,500, while the Cup 250 Final Edition is a slightly meatier £50,900. Moving over to the Exiges, the Sport 390 FE kicks off at £64,000, the Sport 420 FE is £79,900 basic, and the Cup 430 FE starts from £100,600. While the Sport 390 has gone up from the old 350's £59,600 figure, those prices for the Exige 420 FE and the Cup 430 FE are exactly the same as the preceding Sport 410 and Cup 430 models, and as all five of the Final Editions will only be built in limited numbers, guaranteeing their desirability going forward, then that, to us, seems like a good deal on Lotus' behalf.

Matt Robinson - 8 Feb 2021

2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.

2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.2021 Lotus Elise and Exige Final Editions. Image by Lotus.    - Lotus road tests
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