Caught in the classifieds: 2007 Lotus Elise S Super Touring
If you want a relatively light sportscar for not a whole lot of money, your choices are quite limited at the moment. You can argue that the GT86 is both fun and affordable, but itís still quite compromised in a lot of ways. A Porsche Cayman is a great sportscar if you want something thatís both fun and luxurious, but prices for a new Cayman are ludicrous and second-hand Porsches are going to cost you quite a bit to run.
In all honesty, if you want the purest sports car money can buy, the raw essence of what driving is all about, youíve basically got two options: the Mazda MX-5 and the Lotus Elise. Weíll talk about the former in an upcoming article, but for now, letís cover the Elise since weíve managed to find this gorgeous example listed on our website for just a shade under £18,000. Itís a one-owner car and it has just 51,000 miles on the clock, making it one of the best sub £20k sports cars currently for sale.
Anyone who knows what it is can instantly recognize a Lotus from a mile awayÖ provided they can see it that is. The Lotus Elise is one of the most compact cars youíll ever see on the road, and weíre including 70s and 80s supercars in that comparison. Itís so comically tiny pictures donít do it justice. Park it next to a Fiat 500 and the Fiat looks like a minibus in comparison. The Elise is just 45 inches tall, or, in other words, over 5 inches shorter than the Toyota GT86.
Its proportions relative to its height are impeccable though. Looking at it in isolation, the Elise looks like a much bigger car than it actually is. Itís got a wide stance relative to how long it is, so it looks quite muscular and aggressive. The front end is adorned with the classic Lotus Elise headlights and that Ďsmilingí front grille. The rear is much more serious-looking than the front thought, with four circular taillights like the ones found on older Ferraris (the 550 for example), and a central twin-exhaust setup.
This particular example has Magnetic Blue paintwork and the Super Touring pack, including special six-spoke metallic-finished wheels. Seeing an Elise Series 2 on the road isnít that common, as these things are becoming increasingly rare by the day.
Inside, thereís really not a whole lot to talk about in terms of creature comforts and luxury. The cabin itself is so small you can stretch out your hand and open the passenger side window without bending over at all. If youíre over 6 feet you might struggle for headroom with the roof on, but youíll still fit. Two bulkier adults will find shoulder room inadequate, so itís best to ride solo or find a passenger thatís a bit slimmer.
In terms of the driving position though, the Elise really is in a class of one. You sit so low in the car you feel like youíre actually sitting on the ground itself. When you see bumps you lift yourself from the seat the first few times because youíre worried youíll scrape underneath. We know journalists like to rave on about how cars make you feel when youíre driving them, but the Elise is so good at conveying what driving is all about, you have to experience it to know what weíre on about.
The steering wheel is the right size, the gear lever is in exactly the right position, and the pedals are perfectly designed for heel and toe, even if theyíre a bit closer together than ideal. Youíre aware of how small and narrow the cabin is, but because you feel so connected to the car, it doesnít feel claustrophobic. The removable roof also helps with that, and it makes the car a hundred times better come summertime.
Creature comforts are limited to A/C, a simple radio, and because this is the Touring Pack, electrically-operated windows. The Eliseís interior is the complete opposite of the Cayman: it isnít luxurious and it isnít spacious, but itís more than adequate to fulfil its intended role.
Engine and Performance
Early Elises had a 1.8-litre Rover-sourced four-cylinder, but Lotus later decided to start using Toyota-sourced engines for better reliability and more performance. Base versions of the Elise came with a naturally-aspirated Toyota 1.8-litre unit (1ZZ-FE) making 136 bhp, but you can also find cars with a supercharger producing 218 horsepower (2ZZ-GE). The 2ZZ-GE was also available in naturally-aspirated form, found in the Elise R, developing 189 horsepower.
This particular example is the S, so it has the 1ZZ-GE engine with 136 horsepower. It can sprint to 62 mph in just 5.8 seconds and go on to a respectable top speed of 127 mph. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Looking at those figures in isolation, you might think a tuned VW Golf GTI is a better choice if you want to go fast, but thatís where youíd be wrong.
The Elise is all about balance and corner speeds. It doesnít have a ton of power, but because it weighs just 860 kilograms, it doesnít need to. The traditional Porsche 911 driving style is slow in, fast out. With the Elise, itís fast in, fast out. The amount of speed you can carry through the corners in the Lotus beggars belief. It really is just a slightly glorified go-kart with a number plate and not much else. Even if you spend a million pounds on any other car, you canít get anything closer to a go-kart for the road than the Elise. Itís poised and balanced unlike any other car currently for sale, let alone any car in its price range.
The steering is unassisted and itís bristling with feedback, the brake pedal is nicely judged and super confidence-inspiring, and the motor is an absolute screamer. It may be just a Ďmeaslyí four-cylinder, but it will rev its little heart out all day long. Sure, the supercharged version is immensely more capable, but itíll also land you in jail-time speeds much quicker. The naturally-aspirated engine is the way to go, as you can savour it and enjoy the car without getting into too much trouble.
Model: Lotus Elise S
Trim: Super Touring
Why buy one
If you like your sports car to also be luxurious, donít even think about buying a Lotus, because youíll hate it from day one. Itís a bare-bones rendition of what a sports car is, with next to no creature comforts or amenities. If, on the other hand, you want the last word in driving involvement and car control, look no further. Grab one while you still can before prices skyrocket and they become a collectorís item because youíll definitely regret it in the future if you donít. Start your search for used Lotus Elise cars for sale on DesperateSeller.co.uk right now!
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