800 Derita Road, Ste. A
Nobody was fonder of the concept of less weight equaling more horsepower than Colin Chapman, and this gorgeous, low-mileage 2006 Lotus Elise continues the founder's mission by combining, well, less weight with more power. Is the Elise the ultimate track-day weapon or simply a wonderful sports car that does everything right simply by being lightweight? How about both? With a feisty 1.8L Inline-4, a quick-shifting 6-speed gearbox, and a sporty Touring Package leather interior wrapped in that slick Graphite Gray finish, this real-world "Hot Wheels" race car only needs one thing: a new owner dying to have a lot of fun.
It's hard to call something this diminutive "imposing," but it has that sort of presence, so we'll say it's, at the very least, purposeful. Stripped down to only the bare essentials (which doesn't mean it's boring, but rather that all the exterior flash has a vital job helping this Lotus go faster), it's like the sculpted bodywork on this Targa-top coupe was shrink-wrapped over the mechanicals. Bug-eye quad headlights, catfish-style front grilles, an aggressive hood, sharply carved air-scoops inside the side coves, and that aerodynamically designed rear diffuser are all part of Elise's electric package, which looks part Miata, part Corvette, and even part Ferrari from just about any angle you ogle it. There's plenty of metallic in the gray finish, so it has a depth and shine that makes it look super-expensive, and there's not much evidence that it's been used hard for the past 8555 miles. That translates to just over 500 miles annually, and that wonderful preservation shows throughout. When these were sold new, Starshield PPF (paint protection film) was installed at the dealerships, and if we're honest, those 'clear bra' covers on the hood and lower portion of the car are the only parts we can complain about, as they show some cracking and scratching in a few places. Thankfully, these can be removed (and we urge you to leave that job to a professional). If that protective film has done its job well, the paint underneath should theoretically be spotless, or at the very least match the top, driver-quality finish on the rest of the car. Lotus's panel fit and assembly quality has made great leaps and strides since the dark days of the 1970s Esprits, and this RTM Composite Body fits together with great precision, and even all the weather stripping is still in excellent shape. All the accent trim is black, so there's no bright trim to speak of. However, the elongated headlights up front and simple round taillights out back add plenty of flashes, along with the many vents and cooler openings that help keep the engine and brakes comfortable. It all comes back to "purposeful" A paint-matched, removable hardtop turns this coupe into an open-air cruiser in seconds, although with so few miles and low ownership, this fair-weather Elise has never had the top off.
Typically, Elise's interior is stripped down to just the basics. However, this is the more luxurious "Touring Package" model, which includes such upgrades as Probax seats, A/C and power windows/locks, airbags, an anti-theft system with an immobilizer, and a kickin' stereo. Nevertheless, Elise's mission is plain to see: less fluff, more speed. The thin-shell, leather-and-cloth trimmed seats are essentially racing buckets, the Momo leather-trimmed steering wheel hangs in space well away from the dash, and the car's backbone is exposed as it merges into the shifter tower. Big white-faced gauges are reminiscent of a race car, too, and the use of exotic competition materials is left out in the open for everyone to see. There's a JVC AM/FM/BT head unit that powers upgraded dash speakers and a booming JL Audio subwoofer built into a carbon fiber enclosure, which is nice on a car you might want to drive regularly. Still, we're pretty sure running the gears of the 6-speed manual gearbox will be entertaining enough. Super clean and super sporty, this cabin is dialed in.
With so little weight to haul around, the Toyota-sourced 1.8L I4 16-valve DOHC over-performs and pushes the Elise around with the athleticism of a Corvette. Mid-mounted for optimum weight distribution, the peppy motor puts out a robust 190hp, which is a whole lot when you consider the epoxy-bonded lightweight aluminum chassis and featherlight body. The valve cover shows Lotus's name, and they do get credit for the tuning and software, and it gives this Elise a unique personality that's 100% Lotus. There are also hundreds of modifications and upgrades for these cars. Still, this one has none, preferring to go the stock route that enhances durability and means that this Elise should run practically forever. It's been properly maintained, and there's a fantastic sensation of endless acceleration thanks to a sky-high redline. Of course, it wouldn't be a Lotus without fantastic handling, thanks to a four-
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