Thought Lotus couldn’t trim any more fat off the skinnier-than-skinny-latte Elise? Well, Hethel’s new Lotus Elise Sprint does the unthinkable of piling on the carbs (carbon fibre in this case) to cut the pounds.
The lightweight material can be found on the front access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, which – together with the polycarbonate rear screen – save 6 kg. A similar weight saving has also been achieved through the use of carbon race seats, while a lithium-ion battery drops a staggering 9 kg. Rounding off the changes are the new lightweight forged alloy wheels which weigh 5 kg less.
On top of these additions are changes made to the entire Elise family for 2017, including a new front clamshell that gains larger openings for the radiators and a new mesh grille, trimming off 8.7 kg. The rear panel has also been redesigned with just two tail light clusters instead of four – the reverse and fog lights have been mounted inboard to save another 0.3 kg.
Inside, the Elise benefits from an open-gate manual shifter from the Exige Sport 350. Specially adapted for the smaller, less powerful car, it saves 1 kg and provides a more positive and direct action, for quicker and more precise shifting. The additions make the new Elise lineup 10 kg lighter spec-for-spec than before.
More weight can be trimmed through options, including carbon sill covers that save 0.8 kg and are 10 mm narrower, helping to ease the traditionally awkward Elise entry and egress procedure. There are also two-piece front brake discs, available from May, that drop another 4 kg. Together with the Sprint’s 26 kg weight saving, they all cut a staggering 41 kg off the lightest Elise, putting the dry figure at a featherweight 798 kg.
Other changes to the Elise lineup have helped create a more even balance of downforce across the car, with rubber flaps on the underside and front wheels modifying airflow under the car to reduce drag and increase stability, as does an additional rear diffuser vane.
Elsewhere, the instrument cluster now gets more legible graphics, while a new in-car entertainment system with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity is available as an option. Other options include Alcantara trim on the steering wheel, air vent surrounds and side sills.
Both the standard Elise Sport and the Sprint model are available with a choice of two Toyota-derived engines – a 134 hp/160 Nm 1.6 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine and a more powerful 217 hp/250 Nm 1.8 litre supercharged mill. The latter receives a new exhaust system for 2017.
Suspension duties are handled by double wishbones all around, with a front anti-roll bar, Bilstein high-performance gas dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs. The brakes feature AP Racing twin-piston front callipers and Brembo single-piston rear callipers, and all models feature switchable stability control (Drive, Sport, Off) as standard.
The new Elise models can be ordered today, with deliveries beginning in April. As an aside, the more powerful Elise Cup 250 will be available in May 2017, with new updates that drop the weight by 23 kg over the previous model. A Carbon Aero pack and the Sprint’s carbon fibre front access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover can also be specified to bring the weight saving to 40 kg. Order books are open now.