At its core, the Elise remains unaltered.

If the extruded and bonded aluminium chassis sounds old hat in a brave new world of mass-produced carbonfibre, think again.

Elise’s roof is neater-looking than a Caterham’s bedraggled hood, but in a downpour I’d rather have the Seven’s to struggle with

The car’s platform may be 20 years old, but the ingenuity, low weight and outright strength of its spine is beyond doubt. To it, the double wishbone suspension and mid-mounted transverse engine are bolted.

The identity of those components has changed over time. The Cup 250 – like the 220 before it – gets Bilstein gas dampers, Eibach coaxial coil springs and an adjustable anti-roll bar at the front.

That’s a familiar mix. Unfamiliar are new front wheels with 195-section tyres in place of the 175s used on the rest of the range (including the track-only Cup R).

It gets more serious Yokohama Advan A048 rubber, too. Behind them are AP twin-piston calipers on 288mm ventilated discs.

Pushing the body down onto the wheels is a bodykit derived from the Cup R and delivering the same 66kg of downforce at 100mph. The supplementary trim, which can be made from carbonfibre components if you choose, is the 250’s main point of visual differentiation from the normally elfin Elise.

A new front splitter and side sills broaden the stance, but it is the colossal spoiler and diffuser combination at the back that provide the real race-car gristle.

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Providing the race-car shove is a new, higher-output version of the supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine still found aboard the Elise Sport 220.

It is based on the Toyota 2ZR-FE lump, with direct fuel injection and variable valve timing, but in Lotus’s hands it earns a charge-cooled Magnuson R900 compressor and bespoke software management.

The result, kitted out with a new supercharger pulley and high-flow fuel pump, has 243bhp at 7200rpm – a 26bhp gain over the 220 – although the same 184lb ft of torque arrives a little earlier, at 3500rpm.

To help it to a claimed 261bhp per tonne, the engineers have hoovered yet more mass from the Elise.

Notably, a lithium ion battery slashes 10kg, the carbonfibre seats 6kg and those forged alloy wheels an additional 1.5kg.

There’s also no hard-top roof to haul about the place (unless you’ve optioned it) and the Carbon Aero Pack cuts another 10kg for an unladen weight quoted at 921kg. Brimmed with fuel, the car tipped our scales at 930kg.