The Lotus Elise is utterly brilliant to drive if you’re in the mood. It has one of the world’s best-handling chassis and exquisite steering. Use the gearbox and - in the Elise Sport and Elise Sport 220 - you’ll enjoy an eager, unburstable engine in a car whose size renders these assets fantastically usable.

But this Lotus is old and could be seen as expensive if you like to judge your cars objectively. For instance, an equivalent BMW Z4 may cost a few grand more, but you also get a lot more – certainly in terms of finish and equipment, even if the highs aren’t as high.

Compromised in material quality, refinement and usability, but not performance and handling purity

Relative to those rivals, the Elise is also poorly equipped, with a standard of finish that now looks like a history lesson, and suffers from huge wind noise with the roof up. At least it has proved reliable over the years and now comes with a three-year warranty for added peace-of-mind.

You do get exceptional economy though – better than you have a right to expect from a car with this level of performance.

Yet many of the Elise’s drawbacks can be overlooked when you’re in the middle of a red-mist moment.  At its core, the Elise is still magnificent, and it gets better the sportier the Elise is.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week