In its 20th year, the Elise remains very special.
What it does seems simple, yet nothing does it better. It’s more usable than a Caterham but much purer and more involving than any volume sports car; it’s also executed with typical dynamic brilliance, and a material finish that, although imperfect, is still significantly better than the UK cottage and kit car industries can produce.
So while the Elise was the sweet spot for those wanting true sporting thrills without the usual compromises in 1996, by and large it still is – at a price.
What the Cup 250 symbolises is the pressure that has been felt by Lotus to develop the car over two decades and the yolk that the ageing Elise carries to support a company.
The idea of a version of this car priced so close to £50,000 should have set alarm bells ringing at Lotus – and it confirms to us that the heart and soul of the Elise’s appeal must remain an affordable price.
Is a £30k Elise Sport sufficiently affordable in 2016 – or a £36,500 Elise Sport 220? To us, it’s questionable.
As a result the Elise Cup 250 manages to outsprint the Zenos E10 R and the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider in our top five, but lags behind close rival the Caterham 620S and the prodigious Ariel Nomad Supercharged.