Lotus elise: the car legend retires after 25 years

Significantly shorter than four meters and a combat weight of less than one ton: The Elise from Lotus is a sports car that is hard to find today. After a “Final Edition is now also the end for them.

Small car, big name: the Lotus Elise is a sports car for connoisseurs and daredevils alike. 3.82 meters short, just waist-high at 1.12 meters and equipped with only the bare essentials, it is the essence of British sports car manufacturing. And this already for 25 years.

Since its first appearance at the IAA motor show in 1995 (the market launch followed a year later), the Elise has undergone constant further development. Their concept, however, remained unchanged – in line with the Lotus fans who like it particularly puristic. For them there is now a special model of the Elise. And its name “Final Edition (from 55.600 euros) makes it clear: After that, it’s the end of the line for the cramped two-seater.

Lotus Elise: Farewell after 25 years

Lotus Elise: With the legend comes's end. (Source: Manufacturer)

Final Edition: For the farewell, there is a special model. (Source: Manufacturer)

Interior: Since the Elise is less than four meters long, space is at a premium. (Source: Manufacturer)

Photo series with 5 pictures

Because after Lotus passed from hand to hand like loose change, the British brand has now come under the umbrella of China’s Geely Group. And there the plan is: Lotus is to go electric. This seals the end for the Elise, but also for the Exige and Evora models – or at least for their previous powertrains.

The little Elise can keep up with the big ones

In the case of the Elise it is a four-cylinder gasoline engine with 1.8 liters of capacity and 243 hp, which Toyota contributes. Not very glamorous at first. However: Thanks to its aluminum frame, plastic body and lack of anything unnecessary, the Elise weighs just 922 kilograms. So the dull Toyota engine has an easy time of it. From zero to 100 km/h, for example, in only 4.5 seconds. By comparison, even a Porsche 911 Carrera (starting at around 108.000 euros) is not really faster (4.2 seconds). And the top speed of 237 km/h is something you have to dare to do first. But anyway, the fun of the Elise can be experienced much more in curves.

Extinct car brands

Loremo: More than a ready-to-drive prototype of the 'fuel-saving miracle' has probably not existed. (Source: Manufacturer)

The Jetcar is also offered in an electric version. Whether anyone has ever bought a Jetcar is unknown. (Source: Manufacturer)

For many years you could have bought a Yes Roadster. In the meantime the company Yes would not exist any more. (Source: Manufacturer)

Wiesmann went bankrupt in 2013. However, a return of the noble sports car is planned. (Source: Manufacturer)

Gumpert (Source: Manufacturer)

Strong car, strong optics: Whether however ever a Veritas RS III was delivered, is not known. (Source: Manufacturer)

Dixi (1904 - 1939). Dixi was a car brand of Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, later the company was taken over by BMW. (Source: imago images)

Photo series with 40 pictures

“Make it simple, make it easy!”
Lotus was founded in 1952 by lightweight fanatic Colin Chapman (1928-1982) in Ethel on the east coast of England. The designer had his very own philosophy: his cars were not always stronger – but always lighter. How it achieved unrivaled power-to-weight ratios. In motorsport, Lotus experienced many a success, but also criticism of the safety of its cars and serious accidents. In 1986 General Motors took over the manufacturer. In 1993 it went to ACBN Holdings S.A. of an Italian entrepreneur who also revived the Bugatti name. Since 1996 the majority of Lotus belonged to the Malaysian car manufacturer Proton, in 2003 the complete takeover took place. Meanwhile, Geely (China) took over the British company.

A fun car that also thrives on sacrifice – the car is cramped and purist – yet has found many fans: Models like the Exige and the Evora were created along the lines of the Elise. More than 50.000 units were built together. A remarkable success for the small brand. In the end Lotus owed its survival to the Elise again and again.

Role model for the competition

Tesla Roadster: the two-seater is recognizably descended from the Elise. (Source: Manufacturer)

Tesla Roadster: The two-seater is recognizably descended from the Elise. (Source: Manufacturer)

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And other carmakers also recognized the strengths of the concept. The Opel Speedster (2001 to 2005), for example, is based on the Elise and was manufactured at the Lotus plant in Hethel. The Tesla Roadster (2008 to 2012) – the basis of the Californians’ current success – was also co-developed and built by Lotus.

Now e-cars are soon to be created again in Hethel. But then they will bear the Lotus logo.

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