Last year new Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales didn’t hesitate mentioning SUVs in the same sentence as Hethel. Additionally the company is planning new Elise and Evora sportscars, while toying with the possibility of Chinese ownership (Geely is interested) or maybe even a sale to someone like Peugeot who’s just taken on Opel from General Motors.
In the meantime it’s business as usual in Hethel, which means the same old stuff peddled in slightly new ways. The latest though is a bit special, with a kerb weight figure coming in under 800kg.
The new hand-built Lotus Elise Sprint adds lots of carbon fibre to remove 41kg, additionally showing off new front- and rear-end designs as well as interior upgrades.
This, the biggest single weight cut to the Elise since the introduction of the first-generation model in 1996, includes a lightweight lithium-ion battery saving 9kg, carbon fibre racing bucket seats saving 6kg, new forged alloy wheels saving 5kg, and a host of other changes saving another 6kg, like a polycarbonate rear window and lightweight engine cover. Optionally customers can spec 4kg-lighter two-piece brake discs.
Lotus took other extreme weight-saving measures to achieve the final kerb figure of 798kg, like a new open-gate manual gearbox design that saves a kilo, and redesigned bodywork that cuts another 10kg. Carbon fibre sill covers drop another 800g.
Every bit helps though, because if you get the Sprint specification with the 1.6-litre-engined 134bhp model Hethel claims 0-100kph times in the six-second range, while the Elise Sprint 220, serving up 217bhp from its 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder, does the acceleration run in 4.1 seconds.
Lotus says the car is available to order now from around the Dh170K range for the 134-horsepower starter pack.