Bought an Elise Sport 220, did you? Or a Cup 250? Unlucky!
As you know, Lotus tried to take on Porsche a couple of years ago, by sparking a five-car plan to become Norfolk’s answer to Ferrari, Aston Martin and indeed, Stuttgart’s finest. It didn’t go well. Fortunately, Lotus is still with us.
Instead, Lotus appears to have cooked up a new way to emulate the enormous success and stratospheric profits of Porsche. It’s known in the industry as ‘Launch A New Car With A Wing Every Week’. Feast your eyes on the new Elise Cup 260, which is in no way at all similar to the Elise Cup 250, the Elise Sprint or Elise Sport 220, and so on. Basically, this is the GT3 RS 4.0 of Elisekind.
We’ll relent on the sarcasm for a moment, because this is a rare, limited edition that’ll only ever number 30 examples, and the spec is admittedly delightful. Created to mark the 70th anniversary of Lotus founder Colin Chapman building his first car (which isn’t actually until 2018), the Cup 260 is basically an Elise treated to weight-saving and aero mods hewn on several other faster, wingier Lotuses from recent times, namely the Exige Cup 380 and the mad Evora GT430.
Before we dig into the spec sheet however, full disclosure time: the gold paint is optional. Why you’d chose to have your fibreglass daubed in anything other than Championship Gold is a mystery, we reckon.
Anyway, the speed bit. There’s a lot of carbonfibre hanging off this Elise, and the net result of the new splitter, giant wing and front wheelarch louvres is 180kg of downforce at the 151mph top speed. That’s a 44 per cent improvement on the Elise 250 Cup. If you’ve spent £48,000 on of those recently… harsh luck.
Almost every single lightweight option available on the Elise Cup 250 – forged wheels, two-piece aluminium brake discs, polycarbonate instead of glass and carbon everything else – has been selected, so the Cup 260 sheds 15kg versus its not-so-limited-production brother. It also gets adjustable Nitron dampers and All The Carbon inside.
You’re expecting the supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder motor to have been boosted from 250bhp and 255Nm, right? Us too. But no, the Elise Cup 260 oddly still develops 250bhp, while its power-to-weight ratio is, uh, 290bhp/tonne. Still, why should Audi have a monopoly on meaningless badge classifications? And 0-97kph in 3.8 seconds is adequate enough.
Plus, Lotus says it’s tweaked the intake to make sure this “retains the crown for best-sounding forced-induction four-cylinder on the market”. Because why reveal a new sports car and miss out on having a pop at the droney Porsche 718?
There’s no doubt this is a special little car, but we’re really flagging from New Winged Lotus fatigue now. And though it’s going to be a rare thing, £59,500 is a lot of wedge for an Elise. Chances are, the trademark handling will make it worth the money, but the bigger question is this: will it be superseded quicker than your new iPhone?