Given the age of the Lotus Elise, it's no surprise that it looks dated and, more seriously, well adrift of the standards of quality, fit and finish that you’ll find in cars costing under £10,000 these days.
The dashboard plastics look (and sound) cheap, the heating and ventilation controls are almost comically crude (and hard to see), the door trims flex when you press the electric window switches (although the glasses rise and fall with more conviction than those of Lotuses past), the mirrors are manual (and still have that nasty black hole-covering plug in the door), and removing the roof is a fiddly process that requires some force and a knack.
The bad news doesn’t end there, either. The seats provide insufficient under-thigh support and the steering column doesn’t adjust, which soon generates an ache. That you must opt for additional sound deadening and carpets has us wondering how much interior noise an unoptioned Elise generates. As it is, the slightly tinny-sounding stereo struggles to battle serious wind noise that begins to build from just 35mph. Removing the roof, of course, will also remove that disappointment.
On the positive side, the seats hold you well during cornering, the small wheel is good to hold, the pedals are well placed, and with a little ingenuity you can get more than you’d think – although that’s still not much – into the nooks and crannies provided for storage. And the boot will swallow a couple of squashy bags with the hood stowed. Getting in and out, however, requires you to be as flexible as ever.