The Lotus Elise first appeared in 1996 and revolutionised small sports car design with its lightweight extruded aluminium chassis and composite body. There have been many variations, but the basic principle remain the same.

The latest updates, made in 2011, have included new headlights and tail-lights, improved aerodynamics, new alloy wheel designs and an extension of the warranty from two years to three and 36,000 miles.

Deputy road test editor
It’s the least expensive version of the car that receives most attention

The plainly named Lotus Elise (there’s no derivative badging) is the base model, and gets a  1.6-litre Toyota engine with variable valve lift as well as variable valve timing. It complies with Euro 5 emissions regulations, and delivers 118lb ft of torque and 134bhp. The combination of the new engine and revised gearing has produced a 16 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions. That makes this the lowest-emitting petrol-powered sports car currently on sale. A lightweight Elise CR also uses the new 1.6-litre engine, while the car is available in base, Sport, Touring and SPort Touring trims.

The Lotus Elise S is powered by a 1.8-litre Toyota sourced engine, force fed by a Magnuson supercharger. It develops 217bhp and 184lb ft of torque, while still weighing considerably less than a tonne.