For the last 25 years Lotus have been churning out a whole host of variations of their iconic Elise platform and this year it all comes to an end. For petrolheads the world over, it really is the end of an era.
Recently Lotus announced that every car in their current range will be discontinued in 2021 to make way for an all-new sports car. The new car is currently code-named the Type 131 and reportedly feature a hybrid V6 powertrain. That car is due to be revealed later this year but Lotus aren’t happy to let their current range go out quietly.
To mark the changing of the guard at Hethel, Lotus have revealed a handful of ‘Final Editions’ of the Elise and Exige. The updates are exclusively colour and trim for two of the five final editions but the Elise Sport 240, Exige Sport 390 and Exige Sport 420 are all more powerful than before. Offering even better value for Norfolk’s finest. Lotus is anticipating high demand from global markets as “customers rush to buy a slice of history”.
Elise Final Editions
There are two versions of the Elise final edition; the Elise Sport 240 and Elise Cup 250. Both cars are powered by the same supercharged and chargecooled 1.8-litre, four-cylinder mid-mounted engine. The base model is up from around 220hp to 240hp but the Cup’s output remains unchanged. This means the entry-level Lotus will sprint to sixty miles per hour in just 4.1 seconds.
The rest of the car is fundamentally unchanged but there are some reasons why this run-out model might pique your interest. As standard there is a new TFT screen in the main binnacle and there’s also a new steering wheel that greatly improves access. It looks nicer than the old one too. The Cup 250 might be roughly the same as before but there is a new optional diamond cut wheel finish and there’s a new design for the figure hugging seats.
The colour palette has been shaken up for the Elise Final Editions. According to Lotus it harks back to some of the iconic colour schemes from the Elise and Lotus’ past. The options are split into three ranges; Select, which includes Daytona Blue, Fire Red, Metallic Orange and Motorsport Black; Heritage, which includes Racing Green, Nightfall Blue, Essex Blue and Calypso Red; and Special, which includes Isotope Green, Vivid Green, Pearl Yellow and Burnt Orange.
Not everything comes as standard though, you can still option lightweight carbon fibre access panels, sill covers and engine cover, a lithium-ion battery and a lightweight polycarbonate rear window. With all the lightweight options chosen, the weight of the Elise Sport 240 reduces from 922kg to 898kg.
Exige Final Editions
The Exige range probably sees the biggest change compared to the Elise. The Sport 350 has gone and in its place sits the Sport 390 with a healthy 47bhp bump. The Sport 410 is now the Sport 420 and the Cup 430 remains mostly unchanged. The Sport 390 and the Sport 410 finally share the same bodywork which means the arguably prettier rear end of the Sport 350 is no more.
Like the Elise, changes for this final year of production include unique paint choices, new Final Edition decals and two new wheel finishes. All versions of the Exige also come with the TFT digital dashboard, Final Edition build plaque, new steering wheel, plus a new seat trim and stitch patterns.
The Sport 390 actually produces 397bhp and 420Nm. Thanks to a curb weight of just 1,138kg, the Exige Sport 390 scampers to 60mph in just 3.7 seconds before reaching a top speed of 172mph. The Exige Sport 420 gains an extra 10bhp and over the outgoing Sport 410. Officially, it is the fastest Exige available, topping out at 180mph, with 0-60mph completed in just 3.3 seconds. And yes, still with a manual gearbox!
Ultimately these ‘new’ models are another example of Lotus’ impressive ability to bake new cakes with the same ingredients as before. Existing owners of Exiges and Elises from the last few years may not be that excited for some of the changes but the new entry level versions seem to offer more performance for the same price as before. Fans of the brand might scramble to get one of the last versions of Lotus’ most iconic models as it really is the end of an era.
When production of the Lotus Elise, Exige and Evora finally ends later this year, the combined production total will be somewhere in the region of 55,000 cars. That means that together they account for more than half of Lotus’ total road car production since the first Lotus in 1948. Quite a legacy.