With the Elise looking as fresh as ever, it’s pretty hard to believe that the model was unveiled approximately two decades ago, in the fall of 1995. Naturally, it has been through a number of extensive refreshes since then, but the current Elise is basically the same car underneath. If the original 1996 model isn’t a testament to the forward thinking of Lotus engineers, then I don’t know what is. The car’s lightness and nimbleness are still widely regarded as benchmarks for mass-produced sports cars, even though more than a few pounds were gained over the years.

Lotus has decided to celebrate the model’s unveiling 20 years ago with a limited edition. Called the Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition, the new model has less weight and a host of extra features, replacing the Elise S Club Racer in the Lotus lineup.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition.

  • 2015 Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    1.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    145 mph
  • Price:
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


You’d be pardoned for thinking that the Elise 20th Anniversary looks almost identical to your average, run-of-the-mill, Lotus Elise, but the truth is that it has its own flavor. The model is available in only four classic Elise colors, Blue, Green, Yellow and Silver, while exterior mirrors, roll-hoop cover, aerodynamic diffuser and rear fascia are in matte black. Apart from a pair of extra driving lights, the front end has no distinctive features compared to a regular model. Matte black lightweight rims are fitted as standard, while 20th Anniversary decals mounted above the side indicators also give a clue of the model’s special trim.


In line with the new model’s weight loss, the interior benefits from a couple of extra features that both look good and improve the car’s handling. The center console is lightweight and is painted in the same shade as the exterior, while both seats hoops are color-coded with the exterior as well. Both seats are engulfed in leather upholstery, which can be exchanged for Alcantara at no extra cost. The distinctive 20th Anniversary logo is found on each seat and on the stereo, while color-coded stitching on seats and door trims make for a more high-end atmosphere.


The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary is equipped as standard with a mid-mounted, supercharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. Despite being 22 pounds lighter, though, the special edition is no faster than the Elise S, with the same engine. The supercharged four-cylinder delivers 217 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. The 0-to-60 sprint takes just 4.2 seconds, and top speed is 145 mph. With the 20th Anniversary model only weighing 2,015 pounds, it returns a thrifty combined fuel economy of 39.9 mpg.


Replacing the Lotus Elise S CR in the model range, the 20th Anniversary edition has a starting price of 39,900 pounds MSRP (approx. $59,400 as of 3/23/2015). Keep in mind that although it features approximately $7,668 worth of extra features, the model is only around $4,000 more expensive than the Lotus Elise S.


Porsche Cayman GT4

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 High Resolution Exterior
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Even though it uses a similar formula to achieve performance like the Lotus Elise (lightweight, mid-engine, manual gearbox), the Porsche Cayman GT4 is not exactly in the same league as the Lotus. The model is only fitted with the most basic features, including pull cords instead of regular interior door handle, but it still weighs almost 1,000 pounds more than the petite Elise, at 2,954 pounds unladen.

It more than makes up for that with power though, as the Cayman GT4 is equipped with a de-tuned version of the 911 Carrera S engine. The 3.8-liter flat six deliver 385 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. With a 0-62 mph time of 4.4 seconds, the GT4 is therefore quite a bit faster than the Elise 20th Anniversary. That also comes at a cost, as the Porsche starts at $84,600, while not offering a targa-style solution for its roof, like the Elise does. You can read the full review here.


One of a dying breed of cars, the Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary corresponds to Colin Chapman’s maxim of "simplify, then add lightness" in almost every way. The model weighs the least out of all its global rivals, which in theory should translate into fantastic track performance out of the box. Only available with a manual transmission and with that screaming four-cylinder sitting right behind the cockpit, there are few production cars that I would enjoy more on a circuit. Unfortunately, like all other Lotus models besides the 2014 Evora, the Elise 20th Anniversary will not be available in the U.S., but that could change starting with 2016 if recent reports are correct and if enough cars are sold this year. Either way, I think that Lotus couldn’t have celebrated the Elise in a better way.

  • Leave it
    • * Not available in the U.S.
    • * A bit expensive

Press Release

The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition celebrates the unveiling of the iconic sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1995.

2015 Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition High Resolution Exterior
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20 years ago, the Lotus Elise revolutionised the sports car world, setting the benchmark for handling, purity of the driving experience, lightweight and efficiency. Its pioneering and advanced bonded aluminium chassis was a market-leading technological innovation at the time and over the years has improved and evolved and remains core to the Elise’s exceptional performance today.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, welcomes the Elise 20th Anniversary model, “It is sometimes hard to believe that the Elise has been around for 20 years. It was ground breaking when it was launched and continues to be the benchmark for handling and performance in its class. Over the years we have improved and refined the Elise but we have also ensured that we have retained the purity of the driving experience and for the Elise to remain as the sports car to which other marques aspire.”

The Elise 20th Anniversary, with its lightweight aero-optimised, composite body, is powered by a 1.8-litre supercharged engine. It reaches 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 145 mph (237 km/h). The benefit of this light weight is that the Elise 20th Anniversary consumes just 5.9 litres / 100 km (47.6 mpg) extra urban and emits just 173 g of CO2 per km.

Weighing just 914 kg, 10 kg less than the Elise S, the Elise 20th Anniversary is the sports car that both enthusiasts and newcomers to the brand will desire. Lightweight, efficient and totally pure in its driving experience, its benchmark in handling remains the envy of the sports car scene. Additional equipment compared to the Elise S comes as standard and is designed to reduce weight, including lightweight matt black forged wheels, lightweight centre console in body colour and lightweight sports seats in leather or Alcantara with colour coded stitching. A sport mode is also included which increases throttle response and alters the traction slip thresholds allowing the driver enhanced control before intervention.

Four classic Elise colours are available in Blue, Green, Yellow and Silver and the rear diffuser, wing mirrors, roll hoop cover and rear transom are in matt black. Elise 20th Anniversary decals inside on the dashboard and seats and outside above the side indicator identify the anniversary special edition.

All this additional equipment amounts to £5,150 worth of extra value, for only £2,700 more than the standard Elise S (£37,200) and the Elise 20th Anniversary will become a driving investment for the future.

The Elise is the most successful Lotus model in terms of numbers built, with a total of almost 32,000 built and sold globally. In addition to the Elise, the Lotus small platform technology has been used to great success in the Lotus Exige, Lotus Europa and Lotus 2-Eleven models, all of which are, or have been manufactured by Lotus at its Headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk.

The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary is on sale now with an MSRP of £39,900. It replaces the Elise S Club Racer.For other currency prices, please contact the Lotus press office. Orders can be placed now.


Each 20th Anniversary Lotus Elise Edition will have the following as standard:
* Body colour, lighter weight interior centre console
* Leather, or Alcantara (no cost), lighter sports seat trim option
* Colour-coded stitching on seats and door cards
* Colour-coded seat hoops
* Matt Black forged alloy wheels
* Matt Black distinguishing exterior trim
* A choice of four exterior colours - Classic Blue / Green / Yellow / Silver
* Auxiliary driving lights
* Elise 20th Anniversary decals externally and on dashboard stereo blanking-plate

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Press release
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