The British made Lotus Elise debuted back in 1996, sporting a fiberglass body and a bonded aluminum chassis that helped the car set the market standard for efficiency, handling, and driving experience. The car helped launch Lotus back into the lightweight sports car market and was actually named after the granddaughter of Romano Artioli’s – Lotus’ chairperson at the time. At its birth, the Elise put out 118 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque. It tipped the scale at 1,521 pounds, hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and had a top speed of 126 mph.

That was 20 years ago, and now Lotus is releasing an all-new Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 – that’s right, Lotus is bringing the “Sport” name back after being used previously on the Lotus Espirit. The Elise Sport is the entry-level model. It has significantly less power than the Elise Sport 220, but it still provides the handling and performance you would expect from the lightweight two-seater.

The most significant benefit of the Elise Sport is its drop in weight compared to the previous Elise. With that weight loss comes more efficiency and better fuel consumption, plus a price tag that makes the car a bit more affordable. Will the Elise Sport appease newcomers and loyal customers? Well, let’s take a deeper look at the car and see just what it offers.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Lotus Esprit Sport.

  • 2016 Lotus Elise Sport
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    134 @ 6800
  • Torque @ RPM:
    118 @ 4600
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    127 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Up front, a large mesh grille is centered in the front fascia with fog lights mounted in the upper corners

On the outside, the Elise Sport is offed in Solid Red, Solid Yellow, Metallic Green, Metallic Blue, Metallic Silver, Metallic White, Metallic Grey, Metallic Orange, Metallic Black, or Signature Grey. The Elise Sport is quite similar to the 2012 Lotus Elise S, but it has its own uniqueness. Up front, a large mesh grille is centered in the front fascia with fog lights mounted in the upper corners. The front fascia is flatter compared to earlier models, and while the mesh grille still makes the car smile, it is more “in your face” in comparison. Two smaller air vents are located on the lower corners of the fascia as well, but these vents are a bit taller and carry a cleaner look to them. The headlights remain the same from the 2012 Elise S, but the hood vents sit deeper than before.

The side-view mirrors have the same two-spoke arms, but the mirrors appear to stick out a little farther than previous models. Otherwise, the side of the vehicle remains practically unchanged. One thing to note, however, is that the cam between the lower side panel and the front and rear fenders is more evident on this Elise Sport. The same C-shaped intake vents supply air to the engine, with the surrounding body line coming to a point on the doors.

In comparison to the 2012 Elise S, the Elise Sport has an identical rear end. There are two taillights on each side of the spaced out Lotus emblem. Even the matte black rear diffuser looks and sits the same. Exhaust is vented from twin exhaust pipes that exit through the center of the diffuser. The car rides on lightweight silver or black cast 16-inch wheels in the front, with 17-inch wheels in the rear. Optional forged wheels are available that drops another 11 pounds from the car’s curb weight of 1,909 pounds.

Interior

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Interior
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2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Interior
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2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Interior
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On the inside, the lightweight seats can be wrapped in leather, Alcantara, or classic tartan trim – clearly upping the sports car feel. Center seat and headrest inserts are accented with the same color chosen for the body. The doors feature leather wrapped trim panels with body-colored stitching and the same style inserts that are used on the lightweight seats.

The center console is extremely refined and only large enough to accommodate the necessary controls.

The center console is extremely refined and only large enough to accommodate the necessary controls. These includes the parking brake, gear shifter, and push-to-start button, as well as two other buttons, one of which likely enables sport mode. At this time, we don’t have a clear view of the instrument cluster, but it appears to use traditional needle gauges and likely offers only the essentials like a speedometer and tachometer. The three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in leather, which is also used for the shift boot and parking brake boot.

The interior doesn’t appear to have carpet, as it is painted in the same, white-silver coloration as the steering wheel spokes. Remember, Lotus’ philosophy is to be lighter and faster, so weight reduction and the use of unnecessary parts is the key that makes the Elise sport the lightweight sports car that it is.

Drivetrain

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The Elise Sport is powered by a 1.6-liter engine that produces 134 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 118 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. The Sport does a 0-to-60 mph run in 6.0 seconds and has a maximum speed of 127 mph, which isn’t bad for an entry level sports car. This model receives a weight loss of 22 pounds compared to previous years, which helps to improve the car’s already precise handling and quickness.

The Sport does a 0-to-60 mph run in 6.0 seconds and has a maximum speed of 127 mph

Sport mode comes standard on the Elise Sport, which increases throttle response, changes the traction slip threshold and disables understeer recognition. This strengthens the bond between the driver and the car, which basically means you can play a little bit without the computer say no. As far as the suspension goes, Bilstein sports dampers help sharpen the car’s steering capability while providing a sporty and comfortable ride.

Thanks to the aforementioned reduction in weight, the Elise Sport has a power-to-weight ratio of 155 bhp per ton, and fuel consumption of 56.5 mpg when the car is in “Extra Urban” mode.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 1.6-litre engine
Max power 134 HP @ 6,800 RPM
Max torque 118 LB-FT @ 4,600 RPM
0-60 mph 6 seconds
Max speed 127 MPH (204 KM/H)

Prices

The lotus Elise Sport Starts out at £29,900 or €39,900, which converts to $45,473 or $42,270 (at the time of this writing,) respectively. This is of course before options, fees, and delivery, which will push the car closer to $50,000 by the time the paperwork is filed.

Competition

2016 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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The Mazda MX-5 has been a huge success and one of the hottest selling convertibles on the market. It’s not exotic like the Lotus, but it’s a two-seater, and it has comparable performance specs for a fraction of the cost. Bottom line, it’s a small sports car with a 2.0-liter engine that puts out 155 horsepower and 158 pound-feet of torque. It has a top speed of 130 mph (three mph faster than the Elise Sport) and can hit 60 mph from a stop in 6.5 seconds (0.5 seconds slower than the Elise Sport.)

The MX-5 starts out at around $25,000, so it’s quite a bit cheaper than the Lotus. It may not be a fair competitor in price range – and it’s not exotic – but if you line the two up next to each other on the strip, it will be a pretty fair matchup. The question is, is it worth $20,000 to you to own the Lotus over a Mazda, or are you motivated by the end performance? If performance and the ability to modify is your poison, you might be better off going with the MX-5, but that’s your call.

Read our full review on the 2016 Mazda MX-5 here.

Conclusion

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Granted, this Elise Sport looks nowhere near as sporty or futuristic as the 2015 Elise that we saw at the Paris Auto Show last year, but you can’t argue with slow evolution. Despite the fact that the Elise Sport looks quite similar to the likes of the 2012 Elise S, it’s still better in its own way. The advancement of the bonded aluminum chassis and further advancements in weight reduction makes this car a fine example of Lotus engineering.

The tiny 1.6-liter engine doesn’t seem like it would be adequate for a sports car, given the rating of just 134 horsepower, but that’s the beauty of a car that weighs less than a ton – you just don’t need a big engine. If you’re really more interested in having more horsepower, you could always opt for the Elise Sport 220, which puts out a nice 217 horsepower with a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. It only comes at a premium of £36,500 ($55,498) – a price increase of £6,700 ($10,187) over the Elise Sport.

  • Leave it
    • * Similar design to previous models
    • * Seats don’t look comfortable
    • * No infotainment system

Press Release

The Lotus Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 mark a return the iconic ‘Sport’ naming designation, used previously on the famed Lotus Esprit and with it the Lotus Elise package becomes lighter, and even more performance-focused.

2016 Lotus Elise Sport 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, commented, “We have further refined, distilled and sharpened the driving experience offered by our best selling sports car of the last 20 years, the Lotus Elise. These two new models, the Elise Sport and Sport 220 revive the iconic ‘Sport’ naming designation and are both worthy of wearing this badge. Over the years, with each improvement to the Elise, we have ensured that the purity of the driving experience has been retained and improved upon and with these two new models, we have taken it on to the next level.”

Both the new Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 benefit from a significant weight reduction of 10 kg, a result of the continued central design philosophy
of Lotus – ‘lighter, faster’ and the perpetual quest to reduce weight of all constituent parts and in some cases remove unnecessary parts
altogether.

Weighing just 866 kg, the Elise Sport sets a benchmark in class - a sports car that both enthusiasts and newcomers to the brand will find it easy to fall in love with. Lightweight, efficient and completely pure in its driving experience, its handling and quickness in road holding remain the envy of all its rivals. The Elise Sport 220 represents the perfect blend of power and dynamism in a more focused performance package. Weighing just 914 kg, with peak power of 217 hp and torque of 250 Nm, 0-60 mph is achieved in just 4.2 seconds, and a top speed of 145 mph is possible. However, it is once again in the area of vehicle dynamics that the Elise Sport 220 excels, offering an even purer driving experience when compared to the previous Elise S model, due largely to the further weight-saving, aided in part by a new lightweight sports battery.

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Lightweight sports seats in leather, Alcantara or classic tartan trim as an option are a further sign of sports intentions. First introduced in 1976 in the Lotus Esprit S1, tartan interior references a time when making a statement was everything, a concept still central to Lotus’ design philosophy. Sport mode is standard fitment in the Elise Sport and Sport 220, and sharpens the experience further by increasing throttle response, altering traction slip thresholds and removing understeer recognition, allowing enhanced control before intervention and offering an even closer connection between driver and machine. Bilstein sports dampers further contribute to scalpel sharp steering feeling and provide heightened feedback from the road.

With reduced weight comes increased efficiency and a reduction in fuel consumption, a power to weight ratio of 155 bhp/tonne for the Elise Sport and 237 bhp/tonne for the Sport 220 the result. Fuel consumption is an impressive 56.5 mpg (extra urban) the Elise Sport and 47.9 mpg (extra urban) for the Sport 220, further cementing the Elise’s tag as one of the most efficient sports cars in sector.

Alongside a weight reduction is a reduction in price. The Elise Sport model is now priced at £29,900 / €39,900 (MSRP) with the Elise Sport 220 priced at £36,500 / €48,700 (MSRP).

A range of classic Elise colours are available – Solid Red, Solid Yellow, Metallic Green, Metallic Blue, Metallic Silver, Metallic White, Metallic Grey, Metallic Orange, Metallic Black and Signature Grey, with rear diffuser in matt black. Lightweight silver or black cast wheels (16” front, 17” rear) are standard fitment and there is an optional upgrade to a forged wheel design that saves a further 5 kg from total unladen weight.

2016 Lotus Elise Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The Elise is Lotus’ most successful model in terms of numbers built, with a total of 32,000 manufactured 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 Sport and Elise Sport 220 go on sale in Europe in December 2015 and will be available to the rest of the world from January 2016.

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