Some 21 years ago, the first-generation Lotus Elise weighed 1521 lbs. without its fluids. Of course it also had to make due with just 118 horsepower on tap. Today, Lotus says the next-generation, America-bound Elise will weigh less than 2200 lbs. with some gas and an airbag in it, but until we get there, the rest of the world can enjoy the current weight-optimized lineup, starting with the new 217-horsepower Elise Sprint.
Lotus got back to Colin Chapman's original recipe with the latest Elise updates: Add lightness, and then some more, and engine power will be sufficient. The entire Elise range gets some styling upgrades for 2017 both inside and out, shedding 22 lbs. thanks to a redesigned front clamshell with wider radiator apertures, and a mesh pattern grille that's 19.2 lbs. lighter. The new design of the rear transom panel now has two light clusters, rather than four, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard, reducing weight by a substantial 0.66 lbs. So think twice about that extra patty in your burger.
The new Elise Sprint goes even further. Its most important features include a lithium-ion battery, (which saves 19.8 lbs), carbon race seats (-13.2 lbs.), a set of new lightweight forged alloy wheels (-11 lbs.), a carbon access panel, roll hoop and engine covers, a polycarbonate rear screen, saving another 13.2 lbs. In total, these parts cut 48.5 lbs. compared to the previous Sport and Sport 220 models, which means that, finally, Lotus can say that they have a car under 800 kilograms. Dry, that is.
What's cool is that all these lightweight parts can be individually specified for the cheaper Elise Sport and the Elise Sport 220 variants as well. Starting in May, the Elise can also be ordered with optional two-piece brake discs from AP Racing, saving 8.8 lbs., and carbon sill covers, because you might as well erase another 1.76 lbs. All these changes will make the Sprint accelerate to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, while the supercharged 220 will get there in 4.1.
Hardcore Lotus fans will be happy to know that the Cup 250, the punchiest of all Elises will also be 50.7 lbs. lighter than last year's car, entering production in May with such beloved options as the Carbon Aero pack (front access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover) which will bring that happy number of shaved pounds to 88. The Cup 250 can be yours outside America for the equivalent of £47,400, while the Sprint starts at £37,300, climbing up to £44,300 in supercharged form.