Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The Elise provides a near-practical convertible (if there is such a thing). You'll enjoy the removable canvas roof for those sunny days (or those hardcore Lotus enthusiasts that wish to remove 2,205 (or thereabouts) grams of weight), additionally, the roof removed provides easier access into the cabin.

Lotus Australia also offers an optional hardtop which is more practical for all weather conditions (but who wants to be practical!?)
Not so good The folding roof is manually operated and may appear flimsy but does the job. It’s not as good looking as the Exige - but it’s not as aggressive either.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Entering the cockpit of the Elise takes a bit of practice; it is designed for the track as much as the road therefore is unbelievably low to the ground (it can manage speed humps...just).

It's a "Leg First - Bum - Mind your Head - Leg" entrance which reminds us of trying to get into a racecar (which is a pretty special feeling).

The engine's ignition is turned on via a start button (should only be found in true high-end performance vehicles like this); the pedals are made of aluminium and match the gear lever, handbrake lever and trim on the steering wheel.

The Elise has a surprisingly decent amount of interior room; the pedals are further apart than the Exige for easier driving (but not for heal & toeing). The switchgear is similar to a racecar with LED buttons and alloy knobs to play with; the fit & finish is of a high standard with no shiny plastics trying to look like aluminium trim. It’s the real deal.
Not so good Don’t LOOK for too many features, because what you’re paying for you’ll appreciate with the other four senses. The visibility leaves a bit to be desired but sitting on such a short wheelbase checking blind spots is not too different from other two-seater sports cars we've driven.

Sure, it’s difficult to enter the cabin with the roof on, but every time you enter & exit the cabin you're reminded of how special this car is and nod to yourself and think “it’s worth it”.
Performance

Performance

Good In the first few minutes of driving this car, it gives you a feeling similar to when you first get your car license: lots of nerves, but raring to drive!

The Toyota-sourced drivetrain is amazingly powerful and so ever responsive – the Elise can be driven normally, and then as well as though you're opening the floodgates to hell. It's like a mixture of adrenaline & vitamin D (thanks to the removable roof).
Not so good Nothing to write here - the Elise was an idea and then it became the car.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The bottom-end power & the close-ratio gearbox matched to the supreme-handling chassis are a great combination for windy roads.

Exiting a corner under full acceleration you can just let the suspension and aerodynamics do what it does best, keep the car stable. There is next to no body roll because the centre of gravity is so low it sticks to the road like paint.

When driving a roofless vehicle 'scuttle shake' is often apparent when driving hard (especially in the twisty stuff); however, in the Elise the chassis dynamics provide a stiff body structure. Love it.
Not so good (Take the Lotus Elise for a test drive and you’d leave this bit blank too.)
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Buying & Owning a Lotus has always been a controversial topic - after a Test Drive in a Lotus you perhaps may think "this is great but will I get tired of the sportscar characteristics" and the answer is...maybe...maybe not? It depends on the person. We know people who use their Lotus as their daily driver, and no, they're not racing car drivers.
Not so good It’s a bit noisy but that adds character. The entry-level Elise is good value for money - but if you choose the top of the range with a supercharger - then you may as well get an Exige?