10 Reasons Why The Lotus Elise And Exige Are Every Driving Enthusiast’s Dream
Lotus founder Colin Chapman famously said, “simplify, then add lightness,” and Lotus certainly stuck to that formula when making the Elise and Exige.
Lotus Exige and Elise
The Lotus Elise and Exige are some of the more enthusiast-grade cars available on the road today. They are sports cars that straddle the thin line between a race car and a road car with their weight-saving techniques, this is true for the Exige especially as it has very few features expected on modern-day road cars.
Both of these were made for handling, whether that be twisting mountain roads or more intensive track day driving. Either way, these cars have become legendary examples of what pure driving experiences are all about once all the unnecessary parts have been stripped away.
10 Small And Lightweight
Like most track toys, both the Lotus Elise and Exige were small and lightweight. This is important for handling purposes especially. On-track performance is key with these cars, so weight-saving and responsiveness were put at the forefront of the cars’ production.
On some of the models, the Exige especially, all effort was made to make the cars as light as possible. This often meant a fairly poor experience when driving every day as they often lacked features we take for granted today, such as a radio and electric windows and so on. But it benefited massively on the track because of this.
9 Built For Handling
Again, to reiterate the point made earlier, Lotus’s mission statement is to create great handling cars that are street legal and can be used every day (in theory) and a number of things contributed to Lotus’s famous handling cars like the Elise and Exige.
Obviously, given the shape and size of these cars, they are very agile and nimble when cornering. Having such a low weight and such good weight distribution really helps when being thrown around a track. The Elise also has remarkably communicative steering which helps it even more, as well as a low center of gravity.
8 Easy To Drive
A feature that may often be overlooked when looking at cars that are made for track use is how easily these cars can be driven. It’s not uncommon for track-ready cars to be difficult to control or to have too much power for the average person.
This is due to the available power and the size and shape of the body. Most Lotus cars, with the Elise and Exige especially, have below 200 HP. This may not seem like a lot but, when combined with the low weight and near-perfect weight distribution, it makes for an easy, yet exciting driving experience.
7 Lotus History
The Lotus brand was founded in 1948 in Norfolk, England. They are best known for creating small exciting roadsters but have a long history of creating some legendary track cars especially in the world of professional racing.
They are most well known for their Formula 1 history. Team Lotus has won the Formula One World Championship seven times and the expertise used in the field of racing filters down to their production cars which is why they are so highly regarded, especially for their feel and handling.
It’s possible to talk about the handling of both the Exige and the Elise all day but, they are actually capable of achieving some fairly high top speeds to go with all of that grip on the track.
The latest version of the Elise, the Elise Sport 240 has 240 HP hence the name, and this car actually has a top speed of 154 MPH which, considering the car wasn’t built for straight-line speed, is not bad at all. This is comparable to some high-powered German sedans that are so popular.
5 Looks Unique
The Look of the Exige and the Elise, in particular, is one that is so unique. The Elise has become an iconic part of British car culture, partly down to how the car looks. The weird and funky arches and almost bug-eye-like headlights are the most prominent features of the car for sure.
It is so interesting, in fact, that a number of cars have since copied the basic look and frame of the Elise since it was created. Possibly the most famous and obvious example is the first generation Tesla Roadster which is almost identical to the Lotus cars of that time as it uses the chassis from the Elise.
4 Built For The Track
If it wasn’t already obvious, Lotus cars are meant to be driven on the track and any other functions or uses come secondary. One of the finest examples of a track car that Lotus has produced is the Lotus Exige.
The Exige S from 2004 removes a lot of the features expected on modern cars and even has its own performance pack with carbon fiber bits, a harness, and a roll cage. Air conditioning is actually optional but is probably worth choosing.
3 Surprisingly Reliable
Given the race nature of Lotus cars, you could be forgiven for thinking that they break down fairly often and for the older Lotus cars, this is perhaps true. However, the Elise and Exige, with a bit of care, were actually fairly reliable and trips to the garage were few and far between.
For the newer models especially, the car is actually somewhat practical. It even contains admittedly small but still present storage spaces for luggage. Luckily for anyone looking to buy a second-hand Elise or Exige, past owners are typically Lotus enthusiasts, so well-kept cars are readily available and require little maintenance. It even had really low fuel consumption due to the lack of weight.
Something that is particularly unique for Lotus, especially as the Elise and Exige are considered production cars, is how simple they are. There are some great cars out there with cool driver aids and features, but these don’t appear anywhere near these offerings from Lotus.
It is perhaps one of the purest driving experiences anyone can hope to have in the modern-day with a car that is actually street legal. Lotus cars lack features, but this is what people like most about the cars as there are no distractions.
1 Available Without Roof
For real fans of mid-engined sports roadsters, the Elise was a great choice and this was partly down to the ability to be able to remove the roof. This puts it alongside other roadsters like the Mazda MX-5 and lower-powered Porsches.
The difference between these cars is that they could never achieve the level of handling that the Elise could. This, coupled with the open-top driving experience, made the Elise so much more popular and is almost comparable to driving a 200 hp Go-Kart on a track.