Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
4 minute read
8 Feb 2021
5:57 pm

The final encore: Lotus details farewell Elise and Exige models

Charl Bosch

Along with the Evora, the Elise and Exige will account for 55 000 of all Lotus' global sales.

Final group photo of the Lotus Elise and Exige

Having made the announcement last month that the venerable Elise, Exige and Evora will be discontinued before the end of this year, Lotus has now detailed the very last special or Final Edition versions of the former pair introduced in 1996 and 2000 respectively.

Elise

Named after the grand-daughter of former Lotus and Bugatti boss Romano Artioli, who famously bought the brand from General Motors before selling it to Proton a year after the Elise’ reveal as replacement for the Elan, one of the longest running models in the Hethel brand’s history bows out with the introduction of the Sport 240 and Cup 250.

While both equipped as standard with a newly designed leather/Alcantara steering wheel, stitched seat trim, a builder’s plaque and an all-new TFT instrument cluster with dual displays, the Sport 240 receives ten-spoke forged alloy wheels measuring 16-inches at the front and 17-inches at the rear wrapped in Yokohama V105 tyres, while the Cup boasts the same rims, albeit in a ten-spoke diamond-cut M Sport design wrapped in the brand’s A052 rubber.

Lotus Elise Sport 240

In addition, the Sport 240 can be specified with optional carbon fibre panels, a polycarbonate rear window, lightweight door sills and engine cover, plus a lithium-ion battery that lowers its weight from 922 kg to 898 kg, while the Cup receives these as standard in addition to Blistein dampers and adjustable anti-roll bars, plus side skirts, a rear wing, front splitter, wider diffuser and extended floor capable of producing 66 kg of downforce at 160 km/h and 155 kg at its 247 km/h top speed. Final claimed weight is 931 kg.

Nestled at the back, the equally long-serving supercharged 1.8-litre petrol engine from the last generation Toyota Celica has been upped from 162 kW in the Sport 220, to 177 kW in the Sport 240 and 184 kW in the Cup with torque rated at 330 Nm in both models.

In the UK, pricing kicks-off at £45 500 (R929 527) for the Sport 240 and at £50 900 (R1 039 845) for the Cup 250 with both having the option of three Lotus motorsport colours; Azure Blue derived from the very first Elise press vehicle, Racing Green the concept bowed in at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995, and black worn by the majority of racing Elises used in the long since discontinued one-make Autobytel Lotus Elise Championship.

Exige

Lotus Exige Sport 390

Unveiled as a more hardcore, hard-top version of the Elise, the Exige departs with a line-up of three unique models, all getting the same digital instrument cluster, seats, steering wheel and builder’s plaque, but swapping the supercharged 1.8-litre engine for the Toyota sourced 3.5-litre supercharged V6 in various states of tune.

Pumping 390 pferdestarke (PS) or 287 kW, the Sport 390 replaces the Sport 350 and apart from its added power, which includes 420 Nm of torque, receives a revised supercharger, ten-spoke forged alloy wheels measuring 17-inches at the front and 18-inches at the rear wrapped in Michelin Pilot 4S tyres, and a new aerodynamics package Lotus claims produces 115 kg of downforce at its top speed of 277 km/h. The 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint takes 3.7 seconds.

Stepping up, the Sport 420, again in-line with its name, replaces the Sport 410 with a power bump of seven kilowatts for a total of 420 PS or 309 kW, and 427 Nm of torque. Tipping the scales at 1 100 kg and able to get from standstill to 96 km/h in 3.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 290 km/h, the Sport 420’s upgrades include AP Racing brakes utilising a forged four-piston caliper setup at the front and two at the rear, Nitron adjustable three-way dampers, Eibach front and rear anti-roll bars and ten-spoke 17-inch forged alloys at the front and 18-inches at the rear fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

Lotus Exige Sport 420

Capping the line-up off, the Cup 430 builds on the already available model of the same name by producing 316kW/440Nm, which translates to a top speed of 280 km/h and 0-96 km/h in 3.2 seconds. According to Lotus though, the Cup 430’s aerodynamics produces a total of 171 kg of downforce at top speed, with the same braking system starring on it as on the Sport 420.

In addition, the Cup 430 receives the same alloy wheels, tyres, dampers and springs, but with the roof, panels, splitter, rear wing, diffuser, front access hatch, tailgate and air intakes made out of carbon fibre in order to obtain the claimed 1 100 kg mass. Unique to it though is a configurable traction control system with six modes that can only be used with the stability control off, plus a titanium exhaust system.

Pricing in the UK starts at £64 000 (R1 307 467) for the Sport 390 with the Sport 420 retailing from £79 900 (R1 632 291) and the Cup 430 from £100 600 (R2 055 175). Like the Elise, a pair of commemorative colours from the Exige’s past are offered; Metallic Orange reminiscent of the first test car 21 years ago, and Metallic White used on the first V6 model showcased in Frankfurt ten years ago.

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