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Lotus Elise & Exige

Lotus Elise & Exige Published: 11th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Elise & Exige
Lotus Elise & Exige
Lotus Elise & Exige
Lotus Elise & Exige
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An increasing number of enthusiasts are claiming that the Elise is the best Lotus yet and coming from a company that is no stranger to making great cars that’s some accolade. Few sportsters are more focused than the Elise: even the most hardcore hot hatch or sports saloon seems overweight, overdone and numb by comparison. And when it comes to even more extreme hard top Exige, you’re looking at a baby supercar rather than a modern Seven replacement. Values on all are fast gaining traction, especially on older S1 variants. Reliability and economy all models are easy to run with great specialist support.


The Elise was designed with one thing in mind and that was to offer road racer driving thrills and it’s one of the few sportsters that offers greater agility and involvement than the original Elan or the super 7 for that matter. Performance on all models is electric yet up to 40mpg is attainable thanks to the design’s featherweight build. The S2 with its Toyota MR2 engines can include supercharging and no nanny state driving aids. So are you up to the challenge? You have to ask this because while an Elise is more civilised and friendlier than the old Lotus 7, it’s still hard core – still perhaps too much for some folk.


S1 Elises can start at £11,000, but will need money spending on them. Better to find £15,000, at least, for a nice car that has been looked after rather than being used as track day hero and perhaps 20 grand for a top S1 with Exiges double this. If you prefer an Exige, just 500 examples of the S1 were made. Cars that have had official Lotus Motorsport parts fitted are usually worth more than completely standard cars. Many of the 10,619 S1s are still being snapped up by French and German enthusiasts, especially the base models. S2s are cheaper and better developed.


1996 Elise is introduced using hybrid chassis and 118bhp MGF-derived engine. Specification includes special Stack LCD instrument pack and Lotus/ Nardi steering wheel. Options include leather trim and alarm/radio kits

1997 Elise Sport 190 (announced boasting 190bhp and an adjustable suspension. GTI racing model surfaces 1998 Elise Sport 135 has 135bhp and larger section rear tyres. Other specials around this time include Type 49 and Type 79 limited editions

1999 111S uses MGF VVC engine for 143bhp

2000 Fastbacked extreme Exige out with 190bhp; Elise 160 Sport joins range

2004 S2 line surfaces with Toyota power and six-speeds; 05 Sort Exige 240R with supercharged 243bhp; 06 Exige Cup with up to 257bhp

Best models


Big choice, experts rate the Sprints and later 160s the most desired plus shortgeared 111S. S2 more rounded, best value and mostly in better condition too


Can be double the price, with many track and race biased versions available; later cars could be had with Elise body; a minefield so seek expert and club advice


Launched along with the S2, this Vauxhall uses Astra (and turbo) power and longer wheelbase; tamer handling, some swear it’s the best and at prices cheapest of all!

Top five faults


With so many derivatives you need expert help; converted Elises have been passed off as Exiges so beware! An Elise is probably so far removed from your usual remit, so drive a few to gain a datum point


How these cars have been treated is paramount; hard driving fine, neglect no. Many have been crashed so inspect carefully or have an expert dealer do it for around £300 BODY S1 alloy under-tray can get bashed about by speed bumps, or bottoming out. Look for buckling or impact damage. The rear sub-frame can also corrode, so check its condition


K-Series engine is famous for its ability to overheat. Take a look at the level and states of the coolant; Elise radiators can be rather fragile. Toyota engine is more robust

Running gear

Front ball joints wear out after 35,000 miles, while dampers last just 20,000 miles; steering racks wear out within 35,000 miles, even on cars that haven’t been thrashed. As we say, drive a few as standards vary

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