Toyota’s high-revving 2ZR-FE 1.8-litre engine is becoming at once an asset and a vulnerability for the Elise. It’s still a fine powerplant in many ways: characterful, dramatic and fast-revving, and none the worse on any of those fronts for being supercharged.
However, it is notably short on torque compared with the latest direct-injection, turbocharged engines. And what that means is, even with forced induction in the mix, you must work the motor hard to get this car, allegedly the fastest Elise yet made, to feel like it’s living up to its billing.
It may not come as a surprise that we failed to match Lotus’s official acceleration claim of 3.9sec to 60mph, but the margin by which we missed it does throw this car’s status as the shining performance starlet of Elise history into some doubt.
Our fastest one-way run was 4.6sec to 60mph – on a bone-dry surface, after plenty of practice, with oversight from the manufacturer and with very little wheelspin troubling the sticky 225-section A048 rear tyres.
That 100mph comes up in just under 12 seconds makes the Cup 250 quicker than the 718 Boxster and Alfa Romeo 4C by our numbers, but slower than a Zenos E10 S. And only over about the last 1500rpm of the rev range does the Cup 250 really feel any more urgent than other supercharged Elises we’ve tried – and then not by much.
Wringing out the four-cylinder motor for all its worth is absolutely no chore; quite the reverse, mostly.