Automotive

Lotus takes even lighter touch with new Elise Sprint

Lotus takes even lighter touch...
The Lotus Elise Sprint 
The Lotus Elise Sprint 
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The Lotus Elise has a new nose for a slight weight saving
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The Lotus Elise has a new nose for a slight weight saving
The rear end on the Lotus Elise Sprint is now 300 grams lighter
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The rear end on the Lotus Elise Sprint is now 300 grams lighter
Carbon fiber contributes to the significant weight savings on the new Lotus Elise
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Carbon fiber contributes to the significant weight savings on the new Lotus Elise
The mid-engined Elise Sprint is lighter, faster and better looking than the regular car
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The mid-engined Elise Sprint is lighter, faster and better looking than the regular car
The cabin of the Elise is still pared back
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The cabin of the Elise is still pared back
The exposed gear linkage on the Lotus Elise Sprint is borderline automotive erotica
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The exposed gear linkage on the Lotus Elise Sprint is borderline automotive erotica
The fun starts here in the Lotus Elise Sprint
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The fun starts here in the Lotus Elise Sprint
The Lotus Elise Sprint weighs less than 800 kg
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The Lotus Elise Sprint weighs less than 800 kg
The Lotus Elise Sprint 
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The Lotus Elise Sprint 
The stickers on the Lotus Elise Sprint are one rare nod to vanity on a function-driven car
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The stickers on the Lotus Elise Sprint are one rare nod to vanity on a function-driven car
The rear end of the the new Lotus Elise Sprint
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The rear end of the the new Lotus Elise Sprint

Despite new materials and efforts to improve fuel economy, most cars are significantly heavier now than equivalent models from a few decades ago, due to a greater focus on safety and luxuries modern buyers now expect. There is, of course, one notable exception to the rule. Lotus doesn't sell many cars, but its whole range adheres to the simplify, then add lightness philosophy of founder Colin Chapman, and the Elise Sprint is no exception.

Although it constantly works to make incremental improvements to the base Elise package, the Sprint represents the biggest single weight-cut Lotus has made since the first-gen model debuted in 1996. The engineers at Hethel have cut 41 kg (90 lb) from the standard car, for a dry weight of just 798 kg (1,798 lb). In comparison, the carbon-tubbed Alfa 4C tips the scales at around 1,000 kg (2,201 lb) and the Alpine A110 comes in at 1,080 kg (2,381 lb).

The weight savings come from a long shopping list of specialized parts, starting with a lithium-ion battery, carbon race seats and lightweight forged-alloy wheels. Those three parts alone cut 20 kg (44 lb) compared to the standard car. The engine cover, roll-hoop cover and some smaller panels are now wrought in carbon fiber, saving 6 kg (13 lb) more, while an optional set of two-piece brake discs shave an extra 4 kg (8.8 lb).

The mid-engined Elise Sprint is lighter, faster and better looking than the regular car
The mid-engined Elise Sprint is lighter, faster and better looking than the regular car

Along with these special Sprint package changes, the non-Sprint Elise has been treated to a set of weight-saving measures. A revised front bumper cuts 8.7 kg (19 lb) and the new rear-end is home to two light clusters rather than four. Still need proof no-one does weight reduction like Lotus? The light cluster redesign was chosen (in part) because it saves 300 grams (0.66 lb).

All the changes are small on their own, but even little changes add up to make a big difference. The sprint to 60 mph (98 km/h) takes just 5.9 seconds in the base Elise Sprint, and 4.1 seconds in the more powerful Elise 220 Sprint, while the weight cuts should also help with fuel economy. That's not really the point here, but it's yet another by-product of aggressive weight savings.

"Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car," says Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. "An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and, it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800 kg barrier."

The Elise Sprint will be on sale for £37,300 (US$46,248) when it lands in showrooms this coming May. Make sure to tie yours down in a storm – it might blow away.

Source: Lotus

6 comments
minivini
The fact Lotus achieves all this for under 50kUSD AND manages to exceed all required safety standards should be a wake up call to every self proclaimed sport car manufacturer out there...
Daishi
@minivini They are light but also pretty small. Have you ever seen an adult sized man get in one? http://i.imgur.com/VuHXOtJ.jpg The car has a 3'8" roof height. It's certainly a cramped space for dudes north of 200 lbs. There are a lot of pretty nice cars on the market under $50k USD.
jerryd
I do composites for a living and I'm trying to figure out why these weigh so much? I'm doing an all composite body/chassis 63Vette looking EV that only weighs 1k lbs before battery, 1700lbs after. I can also build them stronger, lighter and much lower cost in medium tech composites with protection. And with far fewer parts, weight costs less.
MackIntheBox
Daishi its not much smaller than a Pontiac Fiero and I used to get in and out of those at well over 350 lbs... im 5'11" as well. My 6'5" friend also used to own Fieros. We have since grown up but when it comes down to a hobby and something you enjoy you will make it work ;)
Martin Hone
I'm with JerryD. I am continually amazed how heavy performance cars are these days. And you can't 'add lightness' - it has to start from the very first component and continue right through to completion. Works for me with my aircraft and hot rod builds.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that looks really nice. The price seems really nice for a sports car of that size.