Lotus has expanded its Elise range with a smaller-engined model that will do everything its bigger predecessor could - but on less fuel and while emitting less CO2.

The new Elise - due for European release in the third quarter of 2010 - has a 1.6-litre VVT-I petrol engine, 200cc smaller than the previous base-model Elise, for which Lotus claims 100kW.

Aerodynamics have been improved by four percent and it weighs only 876kg, a slight increase over the old model but still far lighter than any of its competitors; the maker says it will accelerate to 100km/h in 6.5sec.

But the big numbers are the small ones - claimed fuel consumption of 5.1 litres/100km and emissions of only 149g/km - a 16 percent improvement on the previous model's 179g/km and, Lotus claims, the lowest of any sports car.

That adds up to a tank range of about 800km - the equivalent of driving from Cape Town to Bloemfontein without a pit stop.

The two other models in the Elise range - the R and the SC - are unchanged. They get to 100km/h in 5.1 and 4.3sec respectively and emit 192 and 199g/km of CO2.

Lotus SA says it has "no plans as yet" to release the 1.6-litre Elise in South Africa.