The Lotus Elise is a roadster conceived in early 1994 and released in September 1996 by the English manufacturer Lotus Cars. The car has a hand-finished fiberglass body shell atop its aluminium extrusion and bonded frame that provides a rigid platform for the suspension, while keeping weight and production costs to a minimum. The roadster is capable of speeds up to 240 km/h (150 mph). The Elise was named after Romano Artioli's, the company's former chairman's, granddaughter, 'Elisa'.
This Series 2 Lotus Elise model comes in European 111R version or a version sold in North America, called the Federal Elise. It is powered by the all-aluminium 189 hp (141 kW) 1.8L DOHC Toyota engine with a Yamaha designed twin-cam head offering variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valvetrain, a 6 speed manual Toyota gearbox. The Series 2 model is acclaimed as the best version of the Elise to date, with tremendous performance numbers, with many tests resulting in 0-60 mph (0-100 km/h) in approximately 4.9 seconds or 4.7 seconds with the Sport Package. The engine management computer is a Lotus programmed unit. A radical cam timing shift at ~6,000 rpm makes the car feel like it has two different engines.
The 2005 Lotus Elise was the first to be sold commercially in the United States, in the summer of 2004. Approval for the Elise, however, required intervention by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who provided a three-year exemption for the car, as it had failed to meet US bumper and headlight regulations. All Lotus Elise cars manufactured after January 1, 2007 include the new headlights and 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) bumpers, although they are hidden in the front.
This model has been followed up by the 2006 Model Year Elise 111R and SportRacer models. Lotus made a limited edition (50 in the US) version of the Lotus Elise as well, called the Lotus Elise Sport.
2006 models also differ from the 2005 models in a few aspects. 2006 models sport LED tail lights, drive by wire (an updated ECU), improved gas mileage, as well as more comfortable seats.
For the 2007 model year Lotus there were several further minor changes made. The LOTUS lettering on the rear of the vehicle, which was previously flat stickers, was changed to raised lettering. The headlamp units were sealed. Also, in order to comply with US Federally mandated bumper restrictions, the frontal crash structure was slightly changed and rear bumperettes were added next to the license plate mount. Approximately 100 2007 model year "launch" cars were shipped to the US without these bumper changes.
Also in 2007 the Lotus Elise S was released and the 111R renamed Lotus Elise R. The Lotus Elise S is the new base model with a Toyota sourced 1.8l engine replacing the previous models K series rover engine. The 1ZZ-FE engine produces 134 bhp (100 kW) at 6200 rpm (an increase over 120 bhp (89 kW) rover engine). The inclusion of airbags, ABS brakes, electric windows, and carpet in addition to the new heavier engine has increased the base weight to 860 kg (1895 lb) (approximately 85 kg (190 lb) higher than the previous S model).
For 2008, there are several additions to the Lotus line-up. There are two versions of the Elise. Lotus will continue to provide a naturally aspirated Elise producing 189 hp (141 kW). The second version is the Elise SC sporting a non-intercooled supercharger producing 218hp. 0-60mph is reduced from 4.9 for the base Elise or 4.7 seconds for the Lotus Elise with Sport package to 4.4 seconds for the Elise SC. The NA Elise styling will be similar to the prior model years. The Elise SC, however, will be distinguishable from the NA version by a rear spoiler identical to the Type 72-D edition spoiler and new wheels. Weight remains a Lotus-claimed 1,987 lb (901 kg); just 3 pounds (1.4 kg) more than the previous year.