Lotus doesn’t plan to bring the enthusiast-favorite Elise back to the U.S. as a street-legal model until 2020, but in the meantime it’s whetting appetites with a track-only version of the nimble sports car.
The Lotus Elise Race 250 aims to live up to its name with a no-frills approach to performance. It’s powered by a 1.8-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine that produces 243 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, and doesn’t exactly have a lot of weight to push around.
Lotus claims the Elise Race 250 weighs less than 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds) dry. That’s thanks to things like carbon fiber race seat, forged alloy wheels that are lighter than what you’ll find on a typical Elise, and a lithium-ion battery, which alone saves 10 kg (22 lbs), according to Lotus. An optional Carbon Aero Pack cuts weight further by replacing the standard front splitter, rear wing spoiler, rear diffuser, and side-floor extensions with carbon fiber pieces.
The aerodynamic aids generate up to 155 kg (341 lbs) of downforce at 154 mph, says Lotus. The Elise Race 250 also gets uprated brakes and suspension, the latter including and adjustable anti-roll bar and dampers. The result is a car that can lap Lotus’ test track in Hethel, England, in 1 minute, 33.5 seconds. Lotus says that makes the Race 250 the fastest racing version of the Elise ever.
Make no mistake, this car is built for racing, not just playing around on a track. It includes a full roll cage, racing harness, fire extinguisher, battery isolator, and front and rear towing eyes. Lotus even blanked off the headlights with composite panels, since exposed glass headlight covers aren’t allowed in many race series.
The starting prices for the Lotus Elise Race 250 is $76,200, but non racers will have to wait a while to get a new Elise for the street. Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales recently said the Elise will return to the U.S. in 2020, and that the car will stay true to its roots as a lightweight, fun-to-drive roadster. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.