In its fundamentals, the latest Lotus Elise is no different from any other produced since 1996. Its base structure is ingenious, and very strong, extruded and bonded lightweight aluminium chassis unit to which the suspension and mid-mounted powertrain are bolted. The suspension is double wishbone all round, and the Elise is almost alone among new cars in having no power steering, although it does, of course, have powered ABS brakes.
The Elise’s roof is relatively easy to demount once mastered, the properly lined fabric part-supported by a pair of removable plastic spars. Replacing it is only marginally harder, but it’s a major source of wind noise.
The nose section — the ‘clamshell’ in Lotus-speak — features shapely air intakes and headlight units that feature neat LED sidelamps, an instant night-time identifier. The grille retains its distinctive shape and has a mesh in-fill. The vertical tail panel does without strakes at its ends but features attractive ‘Lotus’ raised chrome lettering.
The tail-lights contain attractive circular pattern of LEDs. The rear deck lid features twin central spines and attractive mesh vents. The engine beneath is covered with a large plastic shroud emblazoned with ‘Lotus Performance’ script.
A sizeable rear bumper section features a redesigned splitter - held in with suspiciously cheap-looking bolts - and offset ‘Elise’ script. Side repeaters, just aft of the front wheels, use LEDS.