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Car and Driver: The Eleventy-Billionth Variation on a Theme: New Lotus Elise Cup 250

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We’re considering calling a moratorium on our coverage of Lotus’s myriad special editions, which seem to be launched at a rate of about one a month. All are fine cars, as is practically anything to have worn a Lotus badge during the last 15 years. But they’re also very samey, to the extent that, having assiduously read the press release welcoming the new Elise Cup 250 into the world, we’re struggling to know what exactly—besides its badges—is different about it.


The headline is that it is the fastest Elise yet with a 3.9-second 0-60-mph time and a 154-mph top speed. The familiar and long-serving supercharged Toyota 1.8-liter engine puts out 243 horsepower, a 26-hp improvement on the previous Cup 220. At 2052 pounds, it’s also 46 pounds lighter, with the savings coming a lithium-ion battery (itself responsible for a 22-pound saving), carbon-fiber seats, and forged alloy wheels. An optional carbon aero pack removes another 22 pounds and sharpens the look further. Although it comes as a roadster, there’s also an optional hardtop version, to create some confusion with that other hardtop Elise, the Exige. (The difference being that the Exige is now exclusively available with a V-6 engine.)




It’s a handsome little beast, and a welcome reminder that—despite some of the company’s recent adventures—Lotus is still in business and making cars. Yet despite the fact Lotus hasn’t sold a road-going Elise in the U.S. since 2011, it’s also very familiar. The company’s modest development budget has meant that this car still shares its chassis and much of its design with the Series II Elise that was introduced as long ago as 2000. That car first came to the States in 2004, although U.S. sales ended seven years later; and while it has been theoretically possible since then to order Elise and Exige variants for track use only, you’d have to be a particularly rabid fan to do so.


With the death of the Land Rover Defender, which seemed to trigger something close to national mourning in the U.K, the Elise has now inherited the role of being the nation’s automotive Queen Mother, known for its age as much as its accomplishments. Perhaps one day we’ll get to tell you about a genuinely new Lotus.




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