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Lotus defines what is meant by Less is More. Image by James Jenkins.

Lotus defines what is meant by Less is More
Lotus has added another new Elise to the line up, but this one differs in that it is a new entry-level model rather than a range topper.

 



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#02# Our love of the Lotus Elise runs true and deep, something easy to deduce by reading our past reviews of the other members of the family. How deep is our love? Deep enough to invest our own hard-earned in; thus it is a much-loved Elise that nestles in my garage. Following the demise of Rover and the subsequent loss of the K-series powerplant the Elise range has lacked an entry level model with the 111R and Sports Racer carrying on with the VVTL-i Toyota engine.

Now, after a suitable period of dealing and engineering, Lotus has secured a 1.8-litre Toyota engine of lower tune and has thus been able to reintroduce a lower performance Elise, which is the car you see here, the new Elise S. Priced at a highly tempting £23,045, the S fills the void left since the demise of the base model and 111S and gives buyers of cars such as the new Mazda MX-5 a highly tempting distraction.

The lower tuned 1.8 Toyota lacks the frenzied nature of the unit fitted in the range-topping Elise models, but retains a rev-happy nature nonetheless, although it does run out of puff right at the point where the top-spec engine is just filling its lungs. It is a competent performer though, its 134bhp more than enough to inject some urgency into the rate of progress of the lightweight Elise. Zero to 60mph in less than six seconds and a maximum approaching 130mph are more than enough to set the pulse racing.

This engine is an improvement over the K-series unit, with less high-speed drone, but it mimics its ineffectual exhaust note and uninspiring soundtrack; many owners will seek an upgrade in this area, likely to be available, unsurprisingly, from Lotus as an extra cost option. The positives outweigh this negative though as both the in-gear performance and economy continue to impress courtesy of the 860kg kerbweight.

The latest Yokohama Advan Neova LTS, the bespoke specification of rubber developed for the Elise by the tyre giant, is a tremendous all-rounder. The Elise S offers the expected excellent dry weather handling combined with fantastic wet weather roadholding. In fact, the S is the most composed and exploitable Elise we've ever driven in wet conditions. Needless to say, on the latest suspension set-up the ride and handling remain at benchmark levels. #p##02# The turn-in isn't as instantaneous as in some of the previous models due to the slightly narrower 175-section front tyre, however, the grip levels are high and the agility remains comical to the newcomer and joyously engaging and exploitable to the accustomed driver. Regardless of the lower power the Elise S was one of those cars we found ourselves racking up the miles in, purely for the fun of it.

Catering to market demand, the Elise now has the option of traction control that can be switched off, along with ABS. This isn't to say that the car has gone soft; it merely opens the door to more potential buyers and helps reduce the fear factor some may have of a proper mid-engined sports car. In practice we never saw the traction control light flash once during our time with the car, and that included some spirited driving. The inherent balance and traction of the Elise platform endures.

The biggest advances in terms of modernisation of the car are concerned is on the inside. Owners of the S1 Lotus Elise would be amazed at the latest interior. The new Probax seats are marvellous, being compact but perfectly supportive and with a comfort totally at odds with their appearance. The stereo remains overly complex to use on the move, but offers decent quality sound through the four speakers. The air conditioning is an equally effective and worthwhile compromise in the weight vs. comfort debate.

To fully appreciate the Elise S you need to cast your mind back 6 or 7 years. Back in 1999 the then new Elise S1 111S touted 143bhp. It had that generation Elise's spartan interior, with little in the way of creature comforts. That car cost about £27,000 at the time. This entry model Elise now boasts almost the same power with a much more rounded package for just over £23,000. That is what we call progress. #p##03# The new Elise S must represent very nearly the best the boys in Hethel can squeeze from this iteration of the model. Offering arguably the purest driving experience of any current Elise in what must be the most rounded package in the model range and all at a price that represents a conspicuous bargain. The joys of Lotus ownership have never been more accessible, or better value. Trust us, you'll love it.
Lotus Elise UK range overview

- Lotus Elise S: £23,045
- Lotus Elise R: £28,995

Dave Jenkins - 21 Nov 2006









  www.grouplotus.com    - Lotus road tests
- Lotus news
- Elise S images

2006 Lotus Elise S specifications:
Price: £23,045 on-the-road.
0-60mph: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 127mph
Combined economy: 34.0mpg
Emissions: 196g/km
Kerb weight: 860kg

Full technical specifications

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.



2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2006 Lotus Elise S. Image by James Jenkins.
 






 

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