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Lotus Elise more efficient but slower

New Lotus position: Elise scores Toyota's newest petrol four for 2010.

Smaller new 1.6-litre four makes base Lotus Elise more efficicent but not as quick

14 May 2010

LOTUS has tweaked the 14-year-old Elise range for the 2011 model year, with a cleaner-burning - but slower - base 1.6-litre model replacing the previous 1.8-litre entry version, the availability of a cruise control option for the first time, a longer three-year warranty (which remains limited to 60,000km) and other detail changes across the range.

The Elise SC will be the first of the freshened 2010 Lotus models to arrive in July, followed soon after by the 1.6-litre Elise, which is the new entry-level replacement for the Elise S and continues to be priced at $69,990.

Prices for the updated range were announced last month by Lotus Cars Australia, which has applied a $10,000 price cut to all other Elise, Exige and Evora models (except the Elise Club Racer) plus an $18,500 slice off the 2-Eleven’s pricetag.

57 center image Left: Lotus Elise. Below: Lotus Exige.

The Elise’s 1ZZZ 100kW 1.8-litre Toyota powerplant has been ditched in favour of Toyota’s newer 1598cc 1ZR-FAE engine for the entry model. It features a ‘Valvematic’ system (a variable valve-lift feature) combined with dual VVT-i (intelligent valve timing control), which featured on the previous engine.

The new engine continuously controls intake valve opening and closing timing as well as intake valve lift to vary induction air volume, yielding improvements in efficiency.

Maximum power of 100kW - identical to the outgoing 1.8-litre - is reached at 6800rpm (up from 6200rpm with the 1.8-litre) and the 160Nm peak torque (down from 172Nm at 4200rpm) is achieved at 4400rpm.

The 1.6-litre engine is controlled via a Lotus T6 engine management system, which Lotus says improves peak power output by 3kW over the standard Toyota tune. An optional sports exhaust beefs up the 1.6’s peak power output by 5kW.

The new engine allows buyers a tax break, too. The Elise slides under the federal government’s luxury tax concession for cars consuming less than 7.0L/100km combined, reducing the Elise’s on-road costs.

Both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are down, from 8.3 to 6.1L/100km and 196 to 149g/km respectively. The latter is down by 16 per cent and, says Lotus, “the lowest CO2 for its performance for any gasoline high-performance sportscar in the world”.

However, the new 1.6-litre Elise’s quoted acceleration times are slower. The 1.8-litre sprinted to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds while the new engine brings up 100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

The 1.8-litre was quoted at 17.4 seconds to reach 160km/h, while the 1.6-litre reaches the magic ton in 18.3 seconds. Top speed is down only marginally, from 205km/h to 204km/h.

The 1.8’s five-speed manual transmission is replaced with a close-ratio six-speed ’box in the 1.6 - a first for the Elise.

The 1.6’s redesigned engine cover sits 34mm higher to house the taller 1ZR engine compared to the previous 1ZZ engine in the outgoing model due, in part, to the additional Valvematic system.

Mechanical specs for the 141kW/181Nm 1.8-litre Elise R and 162kW/210Nm supercharged 1.8-litre Elise SC remain unchanged. At 860kg and 870kg respectively, both upstream models are slightly lighter than the base Elise (876kg).

Cruise control comes with the (1.6-litre) Elise for the first time, but only as part of the optional Touring Pack, operated by a stalk on the left side of the steering column.

Other new options available across the range include rear parking sensors, forged alloy wheels (with Sport Pack) and Black Style Pack (black wheels and rear diffuser).

Across the Elise range headlights feature LED lighting (incorporating daytime running lamps and direction indicators), minor changes to the front bumper including the signature Lotus mouth and cooling apertures that now feature lightweight aluminium mesh, a new ‘twin-spine’ engine cover and a new rear diffuser to compliment a new rear bumper that now incorporates a numberplate surround.

The Elise graphic is incorporated into the new LED side indicator lights, in the same vein as those fitted to the Evora, while the boot is now opened via a remote release in the cabin instead of a key-operated lock.

Two wheel designs are offered - a light forged wheel or a new optional cast wheel, both available in either black or silver. The forged wheels weigh 29.26kg per set - 2.14 kg lighter than a set of cast versions.

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