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2007 Lotus Elise

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2007 Lotus Elise Review

By KBB.com Editors

Since the 1982 passing of its founder, Colin Chapman, Lotus has endured a number of economic perils and ownership changes. But through it all, the quintessentially British marque has remained true to its core values of producing light, quick and superb-handling sports machines. Presently, the micro-scaled Elise and its equally diminutive cousin, the new Exige S, are charged with carrying on Chapman's legacy in the U.S. Simply put, the Elise is a modern-day benchmark for those who revere the sports car in its purest form. While nominal rivals span everything from a BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Porsche Boxster to drop-top versions of the Chevrolet Corvette and Nissan 350Z, none really comes close to matching the sheer visceral thrills provided by this phenomenal featherweight champ.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're a hard-core enthusiast who'd be thrilled to drive a Formula One car to work everyday if it were street legal, the Elise is a stunning alternative - especially as your weekend getaway machine. You won't be pampered, but you will be exhilarated every time that you slip behind the wheel.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're not a hard-core enthusiast who's fully prepared to trade off just about every luxury convention in return for brilliant vehicle dynamics, steer clear of the Elise. Those lacking the personal flexibility to negotiate its narrow door openings and wide side sills also should consider a more mainstream two-seat alternative.

What's New for 2007

Under-skin reinforcing and subtle rear "bumperettes" make all cars built after early January fully compliant with U.S. crash regulations, but the real change of note here is new and far more effective projector-beam headlamps. Also on hand are raised chrome L-O-T-U-S letters on its rear fascia and a smaller inside mirror.

Driving the Elise
Driving Impressions

Matching racecar-like reflexes with decidedly taut but livable ride quality, the mid-engine Elise displays incredible balance and control responses. Its non-assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides great feel and feedback, allowing you...

... to hustle the car through corners almost intuitively. While not exactly brutal, acceleration is plenty quick, helped in part by the Elise's miniscule 1984-pound curb weight and - save for a touch of notchiness in the linkage - a nicely-sorted clutch/shifter combo. However, the high-winding engine's high-intensity exhaust note reverberates through the car's diminutive cockpit in a way that can become a bit wearing on longer runs, particularly when you're touring with the top in place. Halting this lithe Lotus are potent anti-lock brakes (ABS) with large vented and cross-drilled rotors that deliver short, straight stops with reassuring regularity.

Amazing Handling
The Elise epitomizes why Lotus remains a revered name in the in the world of performance cars. Its unique combination of light weight and superb balance makes the Elise a world-class corner carver and more than a match for even the twistiest backroad.


Iconic Status
It's a Lotus, and for anyone who knows or cares about legendary automotive marques, that fact alone speaks volumes. Only about 2200 Elises will be heading to the U.S. in 2007, so there's no danger of you ever being lost in a crowd - or in a parking lot.

2007 Lotus Elise Details
2007 Lotus Elise photo Interior

Spartan with style, the compact cabin of the Elise displays lots of bare aluminum, exposed fasteners, hard-touch surfaces and a Momo sport wheel that leaves no doubt about its true purpose. While able to accommodate the proverbial six-footer, even with the top element removed entry or exit remains more of a process than an act. Torso-hugging competition-style buckets lined with ProBax anatomical padding offer fore and aft adjustment but, like the steering column, you must adapt to their fixed seatback angle. The Elise does offer a few conventional creature comforts, notably an Alpine sound system and air conditioning, but its mini side mirrors do little to enhance the already restricted sightlines and, with only a tiny trunklet directly behind the engine bay, you'll always be traveling light.

Exterior

The Elise wraps its composite fiberglass body around a light but extremely rigid bonded aluminum monocoque chassis. Despite a bumper-area beef-up, the look carries over unchanged for 2007 with all of its sensual cuts and contours intact. Crowning the package is a removable black cloth soft-top insert that can be replaced by an optional color-keyed fiberglass unit. Up front, revised projector-beam headlamps provide better illumination and are easier to maintain, while the tail of the Elise sports high-intensity LED brake lights and a pair of boldly upswept aerodynamic diffusers that flank its dual center-mount exhaust outlets. The car's purposefully bulged fenderwells are nicely filled by staggered-width alloy wheels that wear 175/55ZR16 front tires and 225/45ZR17s in the rear.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The Elise complements its enthusiast-grade powertrain, ultra-responsive suspension and powerful anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with a driver-centric cabin dominated by a leather-wrapped Momo steering wheel and deeply contoured, cloth-covered bucket seats. Comfort and convenience touches are modest, but do include a four-speaker Alpine AM/FM audio system with a single-slot CD player (and arguably the world's worst-designed control set), air conditioning, intermittent windshield wipers, a single 12-volt power point, easy-to-stow black cloth soft top insert and a factory anti-theft/immobilizer system with remote locking. Also in the mix are dual front airbags and your choice of Ardent Red or British Racing Green exterior colors.

Optional Equipment

Key Elise extras include the Touring Pack (leather upholstery, upgraded sound system, power windows, carpeting and additional cabin and soft-top sound insulation), Premium Pack (Alpine AM/FM/XM stereo system plus various trim upgrades; requires Touring Pack), Forged Wheel Pack (lightweight forged aluminum wheels), Sport Pack (forged aluminum wheels with 195/50ZR16 front and 225/45ZR17 rear Yokohama Advan A048 LST tires, Sport Tuned Suspension and twin oil coolers), Track Pack (driver-adjustable Bilstein shock absorbers, five-position front anti-roll bar, rear chassis reinforcement and provisions for bolt-in harnesses; requires Sport Pack), Lotus Traction Control, a limited-slip differential, a weight-saving air conditioning delete, bolt-in fiberglass top insert and 18 Metallic or Lifestyle paint colors.

Under the Hood

Sitting amidships in the Elise is modified version of a Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter DOHC in-line four that makes 190 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and 134 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. Although fitted with both Toyota's Variable Valve Timing and Lift with intelligence (VVTL-i) system and a custom-designed Lotus electronic control package, it still remains most energetic between 6,000 rpm and its lofty 8,000 redline. Motive force heads to the rear tires via a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, also supplied by Toyota. Although fully mastering the shift linkage does require some finesse, the throws are short and the clutch take-up is progressive, allowing this petite road rocket to hit 60 miles per hour in a claimed 4.9 seconds (4.7 seconds on cars fitted with the optional Sport Pack) and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

1.8-liter in-line 4
190 horsepower @ 7800 rpm
134 lb.-ft. @ 6800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/29

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