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Lotus Elise Mk1 & Mk2: Buying guide and review (1996-present)

Lotus Elise Mk1 & Mk2: Buying guide and review (1996-present) Classic and Performance Car
Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise S Mk2 Lotus Elise S Mk2 interior
The Lotus Elise was a return to form for Lotus, harking back to the days of the original Elan, which had been built with Colin Chapman’s lightness above all else philosophy. The new Elise stuck to its driver-focussed ideals without catering for a broader market, offering comfort and practicality over driving purity. The Elise doesn’t pretend to be anything but a distilled tool for those who enjoy driving at its purest. Lightness, excellent steering feel and a communicative chassis are its main attributes, and the Elise has stayed true to this basic formula right up to today’s models. 
 
Introduced in 1996, the Series 1 Lotus Elise was enthusiastically received by the motoring world. Lotus initially planned to produce just a few thousand cars, with production ending in 2000, but the strong demand has seen production of the continually evolving model continue to this very day.
 
As the years have gone by, weight has slowly increased due to increased safety regulations and creature comforts, however they all still offer a level of driver involvement that is absent from most other cars on the road.
 
Which one to buy?
 
The Elise has been in production since 1996 and to see which one is right for you it is worth taking a look at the differences between the various versions that have been produced.
 
Early Series 1 cars were fitted with the Rover K-series engine, and their basic specifications make them the purists’ choice. No power assistance or driver aids of any kind were offered, but what you did get was one of the best handling and most responsive cars available. 
 
The 111S and 340R with increased power and a stronger track focus were also introduced. Initial plans to produce 2500 units turned into almost 9000 by the time the Series 2 was introduced in 2000. 
 
It featured a number of changes to make it compliant with ever more stringent emissions and safety regulations. Initially offered with the same basic K-series engine as the Series 1, the powertrain was changed to Toyota-sourced engines in 2005. The addition of ABS, air conditioning and electric windows in some models meant a weight penalty, however the increased power outputs meant that performance did not suffer. 

The 111S was reintroduced with Rover K-series power, but this only lasted until 2005 with the change to Toyota engines. Other track-focussed cars introduced were the 135R and Sport 190, with more power and handling upgrades. 
 
Lotus continues with Toyota powertrains to this day, although the Elise has put on a few kilos in intervening years thanks to safety equipment and additional specification. They are more sophisticated and better equipped than the original Elise, and are more useable as everyday transport than the early cars, however some of the original’s purity has arguably been lost.
 
Performance and specs
 
Lotus Elise Series 1
Engine 1796cc 16valve DOHC I4 
Power 118bhp @ 5500 rpm 
Torque 122lb. ft torque @ 3000rpm
Top speed 124mph 
0-60mph 5.5 seconds 
Fuel consumption 39.8mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2300mm
Length 3726mm
Width 1701mm
Height 1148mm
Weight 755kg
 
Common problems
 
• Parts are widely available from specialists, which generally offers a decent saving compared to going to Lotus. Running costs are reasonable and generally the Elise is a reliable vehicle.

• The Rover K-Series engine found in Series 1 and early Series 2 cars is generally robust, but radiator hoses can work loose and the head gasket can blow if they overheat. Over revving can cause cracked cylinder liners, identified by an excessively smoking exhaust. Cam belts need changing every six years, and it’s worth doing earlier if regular track driving is planned. 

• Toyota engines have cam chains, and are generally trouble free.

• Fuel Injection pump fuses were uprated from 1998-on, and are worth retrofitting to older cars.

• Transmissions are robust, although the shift action can loosen with age, requiring cable replacements. Earlier cars had unbraided rubber hoses to the clutch making it function erratically, but braided items can be retro-fitted and newer cars should have them installed from the factory.

• The body is constructed of aluminium panels glued to the chassis, so rust is not an issue. Corrosion to the foot well floor was common in Series 1 and early Series 2 cars though.

• Sports Exhausts tend to wear out quickly, while the standard items are much more reliable

• Window winder mechanisms tend to give various problems, but and can be repaired by specialists to save on costs

• A number of recalls were carried out over the years, so check whether your specific model had them carried out to avoid future issues
 
Model history

1996: Lotus Elise Series 1 goes on sale with 118bhp 1.8l engine
1998: Sport 135 with 145bhp released
1999: 111S introduced with power up to 143bhp and closer ratio gearbox
2000: Track focused 180bhp 340R introduced in limited numbers – track pack option increased power to 190bhp. Sport 160 introduced with 160bhp and Sport 190 introduced with 190bhp.
2001: Lotus Elise Series 2 introduced. New 111S model introduced, now with 160bhp. 135R (known as Sport111) and Sport 190 continue track-biased offerings
2005: Toyota powertrains adopted across the range. Rover powered 111S model discontinued and replaced by 111R with 190bhp Toyota engine
2006: Minor updates to ECU and the introduction of LED rear lights
2007: New Base Elise S released with 134bhp retaining five-speed gearbox. 111R renamed Elise R
2008: 218bhp Supercharged Elise SC introduced with six-speed gearbox
2010: Series 2 Face Lift introduced. Base model now with 1.6-litre engine producing the same 134bhp as outgoing 1.8-litre motor. S and S cup models come fitted with supercharged 1.8-litre engine
2011: Final year of sale for street legal Elise in US
2015: Elise available from factory in base, S and S Cup variants. Comfort Pack adds central locking and soundproofing. The Exige is the hardtop equivalent and there were numerous Special Edition models built throughout production
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.lotuscars.com/elise-sport
• www.clublotus.co.uk
• elise-faq.info 
 
Summary and prices
 
Thanks to such a long production run, an Elise can be found to suit most budgets. Series 1 and early Series 2 cars tend to range between £11,000 and £15,000. Facelifted Series 2s and more powerful variants are around £22,000 while brand new cars start at £29,900. 

A number of limited edition models, engine variations and transmission options means that you are spoilt for choice when choosing your Elise. Entry level models are great for a weekend blast, although you may want to look at the more powerful versions if you intend to do frequent track days. 

On that note, as long as you watch out for overly abused cars, and stay away from modified vehicles, you should end up with a fantastic sports car that will bring a smile to your face on any journey. Except perhaps a long one.
 
Words: John Tallodi
Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise Mk1 Lotus Elise S Mk2 Lotus Elise S Mk2 interior
Last updated: 11th Dec 2015
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Lotus Elise cars for sale

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Lotus Elise
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  • Lotus ELISE Sport 220

    £42,000 £42,000

    Additional Details: Lotus Elise Sport 220 Finished in Solid Yellow with Black Alcantara Trim Upgrade with Contrast Silver Stitching, High Spec Including Air Conditioning, Stereo with 2 Front Mounted Speakers, Cruise Control, Auxiliary Driving Lights, Full Carpets, Floor Mats, Lightweight Black Forged Wheels boasting a weight saving of 3.8kg

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
    Lotus Silverstone
    01327 320338 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Lotus Elise

    £21,995 £21,995

    1 Owner, Air Conditioning, Electric Windows, CD Player, Remote Central Locking, Push Button Start, Alpine Audio, Car Cover , Full Leather, 17'' Alloys, Full service history

    • Mileage: 18000 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise S1 1998 SOLD!

    £19,995 £19,995

    This lovely Lotus Elise S1 is finished in Norfolk mustard with blue leather upholstery and blue hood, she had one careful owner from new and has covered only 18,000 miles. She is shod on Yokohama tyres has MMC brakes and sports exhaust. These early low mileage Elise’s with MMC brakes are now very sort after.

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise 3 1.6 2011 Toyota Engine 134BHP

    £24,995 £24,995

    Lotus Elise 1.6 MK3 2011 finished in Laser blue with black leather Probax Exige seats. Only 6000 miles from new. Forged wheels wheels, sports pack, touring pack, twin air bags, switchable traction control and air conditioning. This is a very highly spec’d Elise in as new condition.

    • Year: 2011
    For sale
  • 2011 LOTUS ELISE

    POA POA

    Stratton Motor Company are pleased to present this 2011 Lotus Elise 1.6 Tourer finished in Metallic Grey and Red Leather trim. It's features include stereo, air conditioning, push button start and driving lights. This model has the 134bhp, 1.6 litre engine with an 6.0 second 0-60mph time. Service history: 17/11/2011 - 1071 miles 13/11/2012 - 7131 miles 08/11/2013 - 12895 miles 06/10/2014 - 18441 miles 17/10/2015 - 25374 miles 06/10/2016 - 31057 miles This car is a stunning example of a widely loved and very popular British Sports Car. This 2 owner car from new was first registered at Stratton Motor Company as our demonstrator. Then locally owned thereafter and comes with a full service history with all services being completed by ourselves. If you need any further details or would like to arrange a viewing please contact Jonathan or Aaron on 01508530491 or 07860113655. All part exchanges welcome, finance available on request. T&C apply.

    • Year: 2011
    • Mileage: 32051 mi
    For sale
  • 207 - 1998 Bentley Brooklands R Mulliner

    POA POA

    The Bentley Brooklands was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R featuring the same styling, underpinnings of the Rolls-Royce 6.75 litre, V8 engine but without the more powerful model's turbocharger. The Brooklands continued Bentley's design theme which was also used on contemporary Rolls-Royce vehicles throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. The exterior design featured the classic Bentley grille as well as dual headlights with wrap-around parking lights. As with many Bentley and Rolls-Royce vehicles, the Brooklands also featured the trademark descending boot lid and chrome B-pillars. The interior remained relatively unchanged from previous Bentley models but with a more curvaceous design element surrounding the leather-wrapped centre console. Originally registered on 31st March 1998, this limited edition and highly desirable Brooklands R has been well cared for having had substantial work carried out on the brakes and suspension recently. Finished in the delightful colour combination of silver pearl with slate interior, red piping and red carpets, this is numb

    • Year: 2017
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise 250 Cup

    £49,950 £49,950

    Proving that less is more, Lotus’ high performance Cup version of the famous Elise has shed 21 kg and gained 26 hp. Weighing in at 931 kg and capable of 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds, the Elise Cup 250 is the fastest ever road-going Lotus Elise. 
Delivered to the marque’s now famous ‘Lightweight Laboratory’, it emerged with a range of features, including a Lithium-ion battery, which slashes 10 kg of the weight, carbon fibre seats, reducing the weight by 6 kg, and ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels, saving a further 1.5 kg. Designed to suit all sports car fans, the Lotus Elise Cup 250 is available for the first time as a roadster as standard, with a hard top available as an option. Powered by a new higher-output version of the supercharged, 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine, the Elise Cup 250 boasts 243 hp (246 PS) at 7200 rpm and 250 Nm of torque between 3500 rpm and 5500 rpm. Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) provides a ‘Sport’ mode, increasing throttle response, lowering traction slip thresholds and removing under steer recognition, allowing enhanced control before the system intervenes. The Elise Cup 250 carries over the motorsport-derived suspension and braking components from

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £29,489 £29,489

    Variant name:S TOURING AND SPORT ,Derivative:MK2 FL ,Variant: S TOURING AND SPORT Sport pack Including Bilstein sports dampers, Black forged 14-spoke alloy Wheels, Sports Seats in Venom Red Leather, Sports mode for Lotus DPM. Touring Pack, Padded leather door panels, Leather door inserts, Leather trimmed centre console, Red leather handbrake lever gaiter, Black carpet mats with embroidered Elise logo, Noise insulation panelling, Auxiliary driving lights, iPod® stereo connection, Trinket tray divider and cup holder, Cruise control. Black Style Pack, Hard Top and Soft Top. Air Conditioning. Full Lotus Service History. Air Conditioning

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 28759 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • LOTUS ELISE 1999

    £11,650 £11,650

    Finished in stunning metallic blue azure with black leather interior. Covered a mere 72,000 miles and tested until May '17. This is a unique opportunity to be the proud owner of a future true sporty classic for either track or road and very economical to run.

    • Mileage: 72000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.796
    For sale
  • Lotus ELISE Sport 220 *SOLD*

    £44,000 £44,000

    Additional Details: Lotus Elise Sport 220 Finished in Exclusive Pearl White Paint with Ebony Black Leather Trim Upgrade with Contrast Silver Stitching consisting of Leather Trimmed Centre Console, Leather Trimmed Seats and Padded Leather Door Panels. Plus - Stereo, USB Connection, Full Carpeted Interior, Sound Insulation, Auxiliary Driving Lamps and Satin Black Forged Sport Wheels.

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £23,995 £23,995

    Variant name:16V ,Derivative:MK2 ,Variant: 16V SE Lotus Elise 1.6 (134hp) Special Edition one owner from new. Supplied new and serviced by us, the car come with 2 service stamps in the book. Finished in Old English White with Bespoke Black Leather Interior with Yellow and White Stitching. The car benefits from Air Conditioning, 6, Speed Gearbox, Driver and Passenger Airbags, Leather and SuedeTex Steering Wheel, Immobiliser and Remote Activated Alarm, Silver Lightweight Cast 12-Spoke Wheels, Sport Seats with Embroidered Lotus Laurel Wreath, Driver and Passenger Footmats with Raised Lotus Roundel, Sports Mode for Lotus DPM (Dynamic Performance Management),

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 12000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
  • 2014 LOTUS ELISE CLUB RACER

    POA POA

    Stratton Motor Company are pleased to present this 2014 Lotus Elise Club Racer finished in Sky Blue with colour-coded matching trim. It's features include air conditioning, push button start, black soft top and electric windows. This model has the 134bhp, 1.6 litre engine with an 6.0 second 0-60mph time. This car is a stunning example of a widely loved and very popular British Sports Car with very low mileage. If you need any further details or would like to arrange a viewing please contact Jonathan or Aaron on 01508530491 or 07860113655. All part exchanges welcome, finance available on request. T&C apply.

    • Year: 2014
    • Mileage: 7733 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus ELISE 1.6 Touring & Black

    £28,000 £28,000

    Additional Details: Lotus Elise (135hp) finished in Metallic Yellow with Ebony Black Leather Interior boasts Touring Pack with Full Leather Interior, Black Carpet Mats with Embroidered Elise Logo, Noise Insulation Panelling, Auxiliary Driving Lights, USB Connection for Various iPod Models, MP3 Players, Memory Sticks and Cruise Control. Black Pack with Black Lightweight Cast Alloy Wheels and Black Rear Diffuser. Plus Air Conditioning, 

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 4500 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus ELISE Sport 220

    £37,000 £37,000

    Additional Details: Lotus Elise Sport 220 finished in Signature Elise Grey with Black Alcantara Trim Upgrade consisting of Alcantara Trimmed Centre Console, Alcantara and Leather Trimmed Seats and Padded Alcantara Door Panels. Plus - Stereo, USB Connection, Full Carpeted Interior, Sound Insulation, Auxiliary Driving Lights, Cruise Control and Satin Black Forged Sport Wheels. 

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 2500 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise S1 1998 –

    POA POA

    Aluminium metallic with blue leather upholstery and blue hood. These early Elise’s are soaring in value and will become very collectable. Only 19,000 miles , F.S.H. Two owners from new. Now rare MMC brake discs. Driving lamps. CD. Another lovely well cared for unmolested example, new MOT and service included.

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise Type 25 – Audi conversion

    POA POA

    Elise type 25 2002 65k miles Audi Barnard conversion. Standard BAM engine rebuilt over the last 5,000 miles. Nitrons suspensions all around. Uprated brake disks. Scroth Harnesses. Team dynamics alloys in gloss black(with some scratches) Engine has been fully rewired 2 months ago, Emerald ecu Innovate lambda and EGT. CANBUS has now been wired into the dash, if required. Three maps switch installed. To make sure all the above was properly used, emerald session done in July, conservative map (now that EGT was available), running 260hp (emerald RR). Freshly serviced. And it will have 4 new Avon. Car comes with soft top and hard top. The picture shows the probax seats, please note the original will come with the car. The car is not a garage queen, there are a couple of scars but the price reflects this. Hangar111 rear panel eliminator kit.

    • Year: 2002
    • Mileage: 65000 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise Motorsport

    POA POA

    Original Lotus Elise Motorsport with central driving position. 1 of 10 made. In wonderful conditions throughout. Not damaged. Barely used on track. 3 owners. 1 original 200cv engine (another more powerful one is available, but not included in the asking price) Original Exige S1 wheels (another set is available but not included in the price) Can be UK registered, we can assist you through this process. € 59.900

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise R Touring

    POA POA

    Lotus Elise 1.8 R Touring Plus registered May 2008 finished in Storm Titanium, Full Black Leather Probax Seats, 16 Inch front and 17 Inch Rear 8 Spoke High Power Silver Finish Alloys, 6 Speed Manual, Variable Valve Timing, Climate Control with Air Conditioning, Touring Pack, Xenon Headlamps, Push Button Start, USB, Alpine Head Unit with Infinity Speakers, Electric Windows, Factory Alarm and Immobiliser, Full Service History. Finance available on request - subject to status and terms. Ask about our Company Directors packages. Fully Valeted; UK Wide Delivery Available; Part Exchange Welcome. Follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

    • Year: 2008
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise R 1.8

    POA POA

    Lotus Elise 1.8 R Sport Touring registered January 2011 in Aspen White with Full Black Leather Probax Seats, 16 Inch front and 17 Inch Rear 8 Spoke High Power Silver Finish Alloys, 6 Speed Manual, Variable Valve Timing, Climate Control with Air Conditioning, Touring Pack, Xenon Headlamps, Push Button Start, USB, Black Roof, Alpine Head Unit with Infinity Speakers, Electric Windows, Factory Alarm and Immobiliser, Full Service History at Williams Automobiles, Lotus Bristol at 1,515 on 29/01/11, JP Auto Solutions Ltd Lotus Specialist Bristol at 11,213 on 15/07/11; 20,662 on 04/05/12 and 29,793 on 18/06/13 including Air Filter, Brake Fluid and Brake Pads. Finance available on request including lease purchase with balloon - subject to status. Part Exchange welcome.

    • Year: 2011
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise S Touring

    POA POA

    Lotus Elise 1.8 S Sport Touring registered October 2008 in Chrome Orange with Full Black Leather Probax Seats, 16 Inch 7 Twin Spoke Diamond Cut Alloys, 5 Speed Manual, Touring Pack, Alpine Stereo and Speaker System with CD/MP3 Player and iPod Connect, Black Leather Steering Wheel, Push Button Start, Electric Windows, Central Locking, Factory Alarm and Immobiliser, Lotus Service History at Hadley Green Barnet at 1,291 on 15/05/09; Westover Sports Poole at 5,370 on 20/09/12 and 6,845 on 08/10/13. Finance available on request including lease purchase with balloon - subject to status. Part Exchange welcome.

    • Year: 2008
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £33,995 £33,995

    Variant name:S ,Derivative:MK2 FL ,Variant: S 20th Anniversary The Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary Special Edition celebrates the unveiling of the iconic sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1995. 20 years ago, the Lotus Elise revolutionised the sports car world, setting the benchmark for handling, purity of the driving experience, lightweight and efficiency. Its pioneering and advanced bonded aluminium chassis was a market-leading technological innovation at the time and over the years has improved and evolved and remains core to the Elise’s exceptional performance today. Weighing just 914 kg, 10 kg less than the Elise S, the Elise 20th Anniversary is the sports car that both enthusiasts and newcomers to the brand will desire. Lightweight, efficient and totally pure in its driving experience, its benchmark in handling remains the envy of the sports car scene. Additional equipment compared to the Elise S comes as standard and is designed to reduce weight, including lightweight matt black forged wheels, lightweight centre console in body colour and lightweight sports seats in leather or Alcantara with colour coded stitching. A sport mode is also included which increases throttle response and alters the traction slip thresholds allowing the driver enhanced control before intervention. Our car is one owner from new and is finished in Matallic Grey, it is fitted with Air Conditioning.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 3400 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise 1.6 Sport

    £31,950 £31,950

    Launched in 1996, the Lotus Elise was the ultimate handling, rear wheel drive, mid engined roadster. The Elise has been continually developed throughout its life. In 2001 the S2 was launched, with engines being switched from rover to Toyota in 04. In 2011 the S3 Elise was launched, with a further improved chassis as well as a facelifted exterior. At just 866kgs the super light Elise Sport is the essence of the original Elise S1. Its timelessly stylish, lightweight composite body attached to an equally light aluminum alloy chassis-tub forms the basis of all the Lotus models. The lightweight chassis design includes a passenger safety zone and is supplemented by an advanced braking system, LED lighting and twin airbags making the Elise one of the safest cars in its class. Powered by a 1.6-litre engine delivering 134bhp giving 0-60 mph of just 5.5 secs and onto a top speed of 127mph yet still returning a combined fuel economy of 44.8 mpg. The new 2016 model Lotus Elise 1.6 Sport offered at Hofmanns is finished in White metallic with Black and Red Alcantara interior. Over and above the standard specification our car benefits from the following options: NVH –Full carpeting including CD p

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise Sport

    £31,950 £31,950

    Launched in 1996, the Lotus Elise was the ultimate handling, rear wheel drive, mid engined roadster. The Elise has been continually developed throughout its life. In 2001 the S2 was launched, with engines being switched from rover to Toyota in 04. In 2011 the S3 Elise was launched, with a further improved chassis as well as a facelifted exterior. At just 866kgs the super light Elise Sport is the essence of the original Elise S1. Its timelessly stylish, lightweight composite body attached to an equally light aluminum alloy chassis-tub forms the basis of all the Lotus models. The lightweight chassis design includes a passenger safety zone and is supplemented by an advanced braking system, LED lighting and twin airbags making the Elise one of the safest cars in its class. Powered by a 1.6-litre engine delivering 134bhp giving 0-60 mph of just 5.5 secs and onto a top speed of 127mph yet still returning a combined fuel economy of 44.8 mpg. The new 2016 model Lotus Elise 1.6 Sport offered at Hofmanns is finished in Grey with Red Leather interior. Over and above the standard specification our car benefits from the following options: NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness material), Full carpe

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise Sport 220

    £39,950 £39,950

    20 years ago the Lotus Elise revolutionised the sports car world, setting the benchmark for handling, purity of the driving experience, lightweight and efficiency. It’s pioneering and advanced bonded aluminum chassis was a market-leading technological innovation at the time and over the years despite improvements and evolutions to the design remains core to the Elise’s exceptional performance today. With a power to weight ratio of 237bhp/ton (241PS/1,000kg), the new Lotus Elise Sport 220 has the performance to match the looks. Its supercharged 1.8l engine enables 0-60 in 4.2 seconds onto a V-max of 145mph (234kph). However due to its low weight and 6 speed gearbox its combined fuel economy is a fantastic 37.7mpg (7.5l/100km) and CO 2 emissions are only 173g/km. Aside from the mechanicals underpinning every Elise Sport 220 is the strongest, most efficient, and lowest weight extruded and bonded chassis-tub ever produced for the Elise, giving the car un-paralled road holding ability as well as creating the vital safety structure for its occupants. The 2016 model Lotus Elise Sport 220 offered at Hofmanns is finished in Metallic Orange with Black Alcantara interior. Over and above the s

    For sale
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