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Facelifted Lotus Elise range hits Oz next month

Smallest loser: In percentage terms, a 41kg weight loss on the Lotus Elise Sprint is significant, and it now tips the scales at just 798kg.

MY2017 Lotus Elise line-up arrives in July, topped by hardcore Cup 250 variant


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2 Jun 2017

THE facelifted Lotus Elise line-up first revealed in March with updates to the Sport and Sprint variants will arrive in Australia during the next couple of months, crowned by the hardcore Cup 250 that was revealed in Britain overnight.

In highly-strung Cup 250 form, the Elise can crack 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds due to a power-to-weight ratio of up to 214kW per tonne courtesy of to its barely-there 860kg dry weight (with mass-minimising options fitted) and 184kW peak engine power output.

At 225km/h, the Cup 250’s aerodynamic upgrades – comprising rear wing, front splitter, side steps and rear diffuser – result in 125kg of downforce. The pre-update Cup 250 achieved 66kg of downforce at a lower 160km/h when fitted with an optional carbon aero pack.

The all-alloy, Toyota-sourced 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine calls time at 248km/h and for 2017 has a new exhaust system designed to deliver a more evocative note. An optional full titanium system can reduce weight by a further 7kg.

Lotus has fitted the Cup 250 with ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels and Yokohama Advan A048 LTS tyres in offset sizes (195/50 ZR16 at the front and 225/45 ZR17 at the rear).

Behind are twin-piston AP Racing callipers at the front and Brembo single-piston units at the rear squeeze cross-drilled, ventilated 288 mm diameter brake rotors. Again, a lightweight option is available with with two-piece brake discs weighing 4kg less than the standard items.

Connecting everything together are Bilstein dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs at all four corners with compression and rebound rates upped significantly over the Elise Sport and Sprint.

So performance-focussed is the Cup 250 that Lotus only provides a one-year warranty, compared with three years for other Elise variants.

The Cup 250 inherits weight savings from the rest of the revised Elise range plus a lithium-ion battery, carbon-fibre race seats and a polycarbonate rear windscreen from the Sprint to help make it 14kg lighter than its predecessor.

A total 40kg weight loss is with the already mentioned exhaust and brake upgrades plus optional carbon-fibre components including the aerodynamics, front access panel, rollover hoop cover and engine cover.

Although cutting kilograms from Hethel’s pint-sized fun machine is like pitching Victoria Beckham as a contestant on The Biggest Loser, Lotus engineers have returned to founder Colin Chapman’s ‘add lightness’ philosophy for this Elise refresh.

The lightest 2017 model year Elise, the Sprint, has shed a significant 41kg to achieve a dry weight of 798kg. For context, the original and much more basic 1996 Elise weighed 723kg.

Over the entry-level Elise Sport, the Sprint’s weight-loss regime was achieved through the use of a lithium-ion battery (9kg saving), carbon-fibre seats (-6kg), forged alloy wheels (-5 kg) plus a carbon front access panel, roll hoop cover, engine cover, and polycarbonate rear screen combine to save another 6kg.

Range-wide weight-reduction measures include a redesigned front clam panel with larger air intakes that saves 8.7kg less weight and a new rear fascia with two tail-light clusters instead of four and inboard reversing and foglights that saves 0.3kg and visually enhancing the rear design.

Inside, a version of the open-gate manual gearbox with exposed linkage first seen on the Exige Sport 350 saves 1kg while providing the driver with a more positive and direct gear change.

Further cosmetic and comfort updates have also been applied to the MY2017 Elise interior, including a redesigned instrument panel with clearer graphics, a new centre console and improved audio system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.

Optional carbon sill covers reduce weight by another 0.8 kg while easing the traditionally tricky Elise entry and exit slightly by providing a 10mm wider door aperture.

It all translates into a 0-100km/h time of 6.3 seconds for the 1.6-litre, 100kW/160Nm Sprint and 4.5 seconds for the more powerful 162kW/250Nm 1.8-litre supercharged Sprint 250.

Group Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales said the company has raised the weight-reduction bar “beyond reach” of its competitors.

“An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type-approved new Elise now dips below the 800kg barrier.”

Lotus customers going for an Elite Sport or Sport 220 can also option any combination of the lightweight components fitted to the Sprint variants.

GoAuto is awaiting Australian pricing confirmation from independent Lotus distributor Simply Sports Cars.

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