Adding just a bit more functional flash to its already formidable performance formula, the 2011 Lotus Elise rolls into Geneva with a host of cosmetic and purpose-based enhancements for the new year. In the European market, this most affordable member of the Lotus lineup also gains a new engine/transmission combo that makes it even cleaner and more fuel efficient without impacting performance.
The universal changes to all Elise variants centers on a styling evolution that brings it more into line with the new Evora. Up front, the redesigned fascia features more elegantly contoured center and outboard air intakes complemented by unified modular lighting units that now incorporate LED daytime running lights and directional indicators. New lightweight aluminum mesh inserts in the forward cooling vents complete the makeover, which endows this superb-handling two-seater with a lower, wider and even more purposeful visual character. Out back, the Elise sports a more efficiently drawn rear fascia and a revamped engine cover with new twin-spine vent elements boldly underpinned by a more aggressive diffuser. Collectively, these modifications cut the Elise's coefficient drag by four percent. Final elements in the car's tasteful transformation are new cast and forged alloy wheel designs.
No powertrain changes are due for U.S.-spec 2011 Elise models, which will continue with a 198-hp naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine in the Elise S and a 218-hp supercharged four in the top-line Elise SC. However, Lotus will swap the existing 1.8-liter/134-horsepower four used in its entry-level European Elise for a new and also-Toyota-based 1.6-liter that delivers the same output but boasts significantly lower CO2 emissions and generates higher mpg. Supporting this more efficient motivator is an equally new close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. On sale elsewhere this spring, the revised 2011 Lotus Elise S and Lotus Elise SC models won't turn up in showrooms here until August or September.