Lightweight Lotus Elise Sprints onto the road
Hethel, Norfolk - Lotus founder Colin Chapman would have been very proud of the latest version of the long-running mid-engined Elise roadster.
Chapman’s mantra was “First add lightness” and that’s exactly what Lotus has done with the Elise Sprint, shaving 41kg from the weight of the standard Elise to bring its dry weight under 800kg - which, with the more powerful of the two engine options, the 1.8-litre supercharged petrol four, gives it a power-to weight ratio of 203kW per ton and a claimed launch time to 100km/h of 4.1 seconds.
New lightweight components include a lithium ion battery, which saves nine kilograms, carbon-fibre sports seats (6kg lighter), new forged-alloy rims (5kg), while a carbon-fibre access panel and roll hoop cover, and polycarbonate rear screen together knock off another six kilograms. New, optional, two-piece brake discs save a further 4kg.
Not only the Sprint but the whole 2017 Elise range gets a new lightweight front body section with a wider radiator aperture, and a new rear transom with two tail-light clusters instead of four, saving another 10kg, while new rubber elements on the flat underside and ahead of the front wheels, and an extra rear diffuser vane, reduce drag and improve stability.
Carbon-fibre trim elements in the cockpit - especially on the new centre console, save a few more grams, as does the the open-gate manual gear lever, derived from the one on the Exige Sport 350.
Body-colour inserts for the seats, transmission console and centre stack surround lend a touch of extra class without adding any weight, as do the optional alcantara trim panels on the doors, sills, seats and vent surrounds, all with contrasting stitching.