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Lotus resurrects Sport with 2016 Elise

Retro revival: Lotus is acknowledging its heritage with a return of the Sport name and this loud tartan upholstery option, which was first offered in the 1976 Esprit S1.

Elise Sport and Sport 220 replace Lotus Elise and Elise S models

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Lotus logo16 Nov 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

LOTUS is updating its Elise ultralight sportscar range with two new variants that nod to its past with a return of the Sport nameplate and some retro customisation options.

Arriving in Australia mid-2016, the Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 will replace the existing Elise and Elise S with a chassis tweak and a weight-reduction of 10kg over the outgoing versions.

The Elise Sport will supersede the current Elise and weighs in at a bantam 866kg and coupled with its 100kw/160Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, can dash from zero to 100km/h in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 204km/h.

Its higher-performance Elise Sport 220 sibling carries a little more weight at 914kg, but with 162kW and 250Nm on tap from its supercharged 1.8-litre four-pot, the new flagship of the Elise range can crack 100km/h in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 234km.

Despite the rapid performance, the Lotus pair return frugal fuel consumption thanks to their light construction. The Elise Sport manages 6.3 litres per 100km, while the Sport 220 uses 7.5L/100km.

Both cars now feature a Sport mode which is used to sharpen the responses of the throttle and alters the behaviour of ESC. When engaged, the Sport setting moves the traction slip threshold for “an even closer connection between driver and machine”.

The update also brings Bilstein sports dampeners to further sharpen the “scalpel-sharp steering feeling and feedback”.

Special lightweight seats are partly responsible for the weight-saving and are available upholstered in either optional black Alcantara, leather or a new retro tartan fabric, which was first introduced in the 1970s Esprit S1.

Standard coverings are part leather.

The performance pair are also available painted in Lotus' traditional hues of flat red and yellow, Signature Grey or metallic green, but the palette extends to more modern metallic shades of silver, white, black, orange and blue. The rear diffuser is matte black.

The new-design cast alloy wheels measure 16 inches at the front and 17 inches at the rear, and are painted either silver or black, but customers can upgrade to a forged wheel, which saves another 5kg.

Transmissions are unchanged with the six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox and electronic locking differential carried over.

The suspension layout is also unchanged, with double wishbones all round, 288mm brake discs in all corners grabbed by twin-piston AP Racing callipers at the front.

The Elise also carries over the unique bonded aluminium monocoque chassis that made a name for the model when it launched in 1996.

Customers with a little extra cash to splash can opt for a hard-top in place of fabric lift-out roof, air-conditioning, cruise control and, rally style driving lights.

Standard fare includes black leather steering wheel with matching handbrake gaiter and airbags for both occupants.

A stereo is not included as standard but a Clarion sound system with CD player, MP3, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity is available as an optional extra, and brings a full carpet and sound insulation package for greater cabin comfort.

Further details including specification will follow nearer the time of launch next year. Unlike many rival brands, Lotus says it will not be releasing local pricing ahead of the new model's arrival.

Before the arrival of the refreshed Elise, Lotus will roll out the next flagship of the sportscar range – the 2016 Evora.

The British boutique sportscar brand continues to be a low volume but consistent seller on Australian soil. The Elise is still the favourite of the three car line-up with 20 sold to the end of October.

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