• The Lotus Elise Could Live On, Maybe Even As The Toyota MR2

The death of the Lotus Elise could be an easier way for Toyota to finally bring back the MR2

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As the automotive industry forces brands like Lotus to shift gears and find a new direction, amazing cars like the Elise, Exige, and Evora have been sent to the guillotine to make way for something new. Lotus sent the Exige and Elise off with a proper burial in way of a pair of “final editions” which was followed by news that the Evija is still on schedule and that the new car – the one that is essentially replacing all three of these now-buried models – known as the Emira, would be the very last gasoline-powered Lotus. Now, however, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, at least for the Lotus Elise, anyway.

Death Of An Icon Doesn’t Mean It’ll Disappear Forever

The Lotus Elise Could Live On, Maybe Even As The Toyota MR2 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Lotus Elise has, essentially, be an Icon for the brand since the Series 1 was introduced some 25 years ago. In my last article explaining why the Elise had to go, I compared its death to the hypothetical killing of the Nissan Z or GT-R. As it turns out, though, the Elise may very well live on if someone is willing to step up and pay for it. You know how they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Well, this is kind of like that. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Lotus’ Managing Director, Matt Windle” explained that the Elise is kind of for sale:

The Lotus Elise Could Live On, Maybe Even As The Toyota MR2 Exterior
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“If the right project and the right partner came along, I do not see why not. It's a wonderful car”

So what exactly does this mean? Well, for the right price and to the right person, Lotus could sell the Elise’s platform. And, to add fuel to the fire, this isn’t the first time Lotus has done such a thing. Remember the Lotus Seven? You probably know it now as the Caterham 7, as Lotus sold off the Seven’s platform to Caterham way back in 1973 and it’s been in production ever since. As of now, there’s no word on whether or not any other automaker is interested in the Elise’s platform, but Caterham could jump on the wagon. Radford is also said to be working on a Lotus-based sports car, so it’s possible the Elise’s platform is already spoken for, but we have another idea.

The Lotus Elise Could Become The New Toyota MR2!

2020 Toyota MR2 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Way back in 2017, Toyota’s Tetsuya Tada (the man behind the Supra and Chief of Gazoo Racing) said “we hope to have the three brothers in place as soon as possible” By that, it was believed that he was talking about the rebirth of the Toyota MR2, which would sit next to the Toyota Supra and GR86. Since then, word of the Celica has come up hinting at the brand having a sports car lineup that’s four-cars deep and after that it’s just been a plethora of news and rumors surrounding the MR2s arrival. Here’s a quick timeline:

The Lotus Elise Could Live On, Maybe Even As The Toyota MR2 Exterior
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Needless to say, the news and rumor factory has been busy, but the most important bit is that Toyota wants to partner up with someone, much like it did with BMW to give us the new Supra and its twin the BMW Z4. Tada hinted that he’d love to work with Porsche on a new sports car that would become the new MR2, but the death of the Lotus Elise opens up a new door. Could Toyota buy and/or partner up with Lotus to build the new MR2? The timing couldn’t be better, but there’s one big elephant in the room…

The Lotus Elise’s Platform is 25 Years Old!

Remember The Good Old Days with This Lotus Elise S1 Exterior
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The big problem with the Lotus Elise, and – probably – the big reason why most mainstream automakers would leave it on the sidelines for brands like Caterham to snatch up is because it’s so old. The platform itself could save Toyota some serious R&D, but only to an extent as the 25-year-old platform, as good as it is, will need to be tweaked, improved, or even majorly overhauled. The two-seater nature of the platform, however, does match what we’d want from an MR2, so it has that going for it. On top of that, a partnership with Porsche would be a little more desirable. An MR2 based on the 718, for example, would be a lot easier than basing a new car on the 25-year-old Elise. But the automotive industry never fails to surprise us. After all, BMW and Toyota managed to work together for the 86\Z4 twins, and that was quite the surprise indeed.

The Lotus Elise Could Live On, Maybe Even As The Toyota MR2 Exterior
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As of now, there’s no saying what could have to the Elise. There’s a good chance it could just end up being shelved until some startup decides to pony up enough case for Lotus to part with it. Or, the Elise may end up as little more than a distant memory. Only time will tell.

2021 Lotus Elise Cup 250 Final Edition specifications
Engine 1.8-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 243 HP
Torque 184 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 3.9 seconds
Top Speed 154 mph

Source: Autonews Europe

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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