It looks like a toy, we hear you say. While this may be so, but it’s a light, nimble and wickedly quick play thing.
Light, nimble and wickedly quick
The Elise Sprint 220 pushes out just 160kW of power and 250Nm of torque from its 1.8-litre, supercharged Toyota power plant; not much more than your average family sedan. But if that’s all you see this little car for, then you’re missing the point -- big time.
Read more from Exhaust Notes Australia: Are you ready for cool summer cruising?
You see, the MY17.5 version of the Elise Sprint 220 weighs in at less than 880kg. Contemplate that for a minute, that’s half the weight or more of an average family sedan. Now contemplate this, 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds.
That got your attention, didn’t it. In case you missed it, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio, which the 2017 Lotus Elise Sprint 220 has in spades. It’s a good 40kg lighter than the previous version, too.
That weight reduction comes in a number of areas, including carbon race seats, new wheels, and carbon access panel, engine cover, and rollover hoops. There’s also carbon door sills to add to the unique look and feel.
Those very door sills also make it easier to get into the Elise with the roof on, especially if you are close to or even over the 180-183cm height range, as they’ve made the access point 10mm lower than if those sills were standard.
Our test vehicle, sourced from the cool crew at Simply Sports Cars at Artarmon in Sydney, also featured metallic grey paint, tinted side windows, floor mats, sound insulation, and a quality stereo and front speakers.
The stereo had Bluetooth and USB connectivity to allow you to plug in your music from a stick, or connect your mobile phone, but for the life of us we couldn’t make that function work.
That said, the Clarion sound system was very good, as were the surprisingly comfortable carbon seats. We say surprising because they are literally bolted to the floor and while they can be adjusted, movement range is limited.
It also came complete with Alcantara steering wheel and red brake calipers to match the red graphics on the car, while new front and rear bumpers complete the upgraded model’s new look and feel.
Inside, because of the compactness of the Elise, it feels like there’s virtually no storage save for the small boot, but there are little nooks everywhere.
There is a parcel shelf behind the seats, two pockets under the air vents, spaces either side of the steering wheel and a shelf under the passenger airbag, plus a centre-console storage bin behind the handbrake.
It runs a very tidy 7.5L/100km in the fuel department, not bad for a raw and dirty little sports car.
It’s that raw and dirty nakedness that makes the Lotus Elise (and it’s bigger sibling, the ) such a cool car. It’s got the same open-gate gear shifter as the Exige Sport 350 and, like the Exige, is a pure two-seater.
Behind the wheel it’s loads of fun to drive. It sounds good, very good, in fact. Lotus have worked hard to get it to sound ‘just right’ for a small supercharged four and under acceleration, that sound is spot on.
Holding the revs at mid-range though (when cruising at 110km/h for example) will likely get on your nerves in time though, as it can make the spritely little Elise a bit noisy, especially when you’ve taken the top off.
The Elise Sprint 220 has a roll-off soft top that can be stored in the boot and allows the joy of open-top cruising. It is easy to get on and off when you need to, should the rain come or the weather not suit.
The ride and handling is exceptional, it’s like driving a race car. Its light weight and power-to-weight ratio make it a simple joy to drive. Add some moisture to the road and it will take weeks to wipe the smile off your face.
So what are the downsides to the 2017 Lotus Elise Sprint 220? Well, there aren’t many, but the lack of high-end tech, and the sheer basicness of the car, its interior and features, will be too much for some to cope with.
The engine is noisy at mid-range revs when cruising. It’s got a few blind spots, too, and the limited movement in mirrors can be very frustrating.
Lastly, if you’re a big strapping person, or you're tall, like 185cm tall, you’re going to seriously struggle to get in and out of the Elise without taking the roof off and pretending you’re in the Dukes of Hazzard.
But if you can look past all that and the price tag, which may bother some, then this tiny sports car may provide the most fun you've had with your clothes on.
The 2017 Lotus Elise Sprint 220 hits the road at around $113,000 drive-away. It only comes as a six-speed manual.
It comes in a range of colours that includes our metallic grey test car, electric light-blue, solid red, solid yellow and about a half dozen other colours. Colours are subject to availability, so buyers should discuss with their local Lotus dealer.
Lotus ownership in Australia also offers access to Lotus Lifestyle – an owner’s club, if you like, to help owners get the most out of their vehicles. Lotus Lifestyle offers social outings, exclusive events, casual track days, driver tuition, road rallies and even the opportunity for competitive motor sport at various levels.
Lotus Cars Australia has a national dealer network that includes Simply Sports Cars in Sydney, and Lotus branded dealerships in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
Our 2017 Lotus Elise Sprint 220 was provided by Simply Sports Cars and Lotus Australia. To find out more, your local Lotus dealer. Lotus Elise Sprint 220 pictures courtesy of .