The current Lotus Elise is as beautifully simple, pleasingly compact and bristling with energy and feedback as it was when it was first released 22 years ago. Cynics will argue that it hasn’t changed and developed enough – it’s still built around an extruded and bonded alumium chassis, as it alwas has been. But in reality the Elise highlights just how overweight, over-the-top and cumbersome its so-called rivals have become. The Elise is the perfect antidote to modern cars without feeling in the slightest bit decrepid or outdated.
Whether you want your Elise to be the consumate B-road sports car or a focussed track car there’s a model for you. The range starts from the road-biased Sport model and gets more intense as you graudate through to Sprint to Cup. The Sport and Sprint models can be bought with either a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder or a supercharged 1.8, with the bigger engine they get a 220 suffix to their name. The Cup 250 and Cup 260 use the same 1.8-litre engine, but the Toyota-sourced engine is stretched to make more power and the cars get motorsport-developed upgrades and serious aerodynamic additions.
The Sport 220 is the sweet spot of the Elise range, providing the just the right combination of grip and power. The regular Sport’s engine is a little too weak, while the Cup and Race models have more power than you need. As a result, the Sport 220 has been crowned our Sports Car of the Year 2017.