Track-only cars are like summer vacation spots: fun for a short time, but eventually you have to leave it behind and go home.
Lotus announced the Elise S Cup R last year, which was the first Elise since 2012 that could be driven on American tarmac. Unfortunately, that tarmac had to be within the boundaries of a racetrack.
The Elise was embargoed from the United States in 2012 after a safety regulation requiring dual-stage airbags was instituted for road cars. The Elise did not meet the dual-stage requirement, and thus was relegated to motorsport where the restrictions are a tad more ‘spirited.’
The Cup R responded in kind, with a 217-horsepower supercharged engine, track-specific aerodynamic aids, a roll cage, and accompanying six-point harness. Lotus says the Cup R was 4.0 seconds faster per lap than the stock Elise S around a 3.1-mile test track.
For those who want that kind of performance on the road, Lotus has just announced the answer. The Elise S Cup, a road-going variant of the Cup R, has just completed testing and is headed for the next stage of development.
No, it still doesn’t meet the dual-stage safety requirement and can’t be driven in the U.S., but it’s an optimistic advocate for motorsport performance available anytime, anywhere.
The S Cup will fit between the sporty S Club Racer and the aforementioned Cup R in the Elise line, and it equips many of the same performance enhancements as the track-only version. The 217-hp 1.8-liter engine is a carryover, and the rear diffuser, rear wing, and fixed roof create an impressive 145 pounds of downforce at 100 mph.
According to Lotus, the Elise S Cup and is only 1 seconds slower than the extreme Cup R around the test track.
The Lotus Elise S Cup starts around $61,000.