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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

36 Search results
Lotus Elise
11650 1111111 GBP
  • Lotus Elise S2, 2001. Superb and unusual in black with black leather interior.

    £14,995 £14,995

    Lotus Elise S2, 2001. Superb and unusual in black with black leather interior. Very standard specification throughout. Fitted with turner CD player. Replacement clutch and new steering rack and much more to keep this example in tip-top condition. Comprehensive history file with invoice going back and old MOT certificates. Superb example with a fresh MOT and full service.

    • Year: 2001
    For sale
    UK Sportscars
    01227 728 190 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Lotus Elise

    £38,995 £38,995

    Variant name:S ,Derivative:MK2 FL ,Variant: S CUP 220 Lotus Elise S 220CUP. Supplied by us new, and is finished in Starlight Black. Designed for driving enthusiasts looking for a road car that can be taken on track days with ease, the Elise S Cup is a compelling alternative to race biased products. The standard car can be upgraded with a selection of road and track options which can be introduced according to preference. STANDARD SPECIFICATION Atom cloth and SuedeTex® interior scheme and sport seats with white contrast stitching. White embroidered “Cup” logos to back rest and Lotus roundel to headrest. Atom cloth door cards with Grey SuedeTex® inserts and white stitching. Atom cloth centre console with white stitching Heater, electric windows, immobiliser and remote alarm, driver and passenger airbags Front splitter, front access panels, fixed hard top roof, barge boards, rear transom panel, roll hoop cover, engine cover, side duct vanes, rear wing and rear diffuser all in matt black. Matt silver mirror backs.Elise S Cup Rr3Qtr Yellow “Elise S Cup” decal to rear clamshell. Union Flag decals to rear wing end plates. Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 LTS Tyres, front 175/55 ZR16, rear 225/45 ZR17. Individually numbered Lotus Motorsport build plate Competition spec roll hoop. Sports suspension with adjustable front anti roll bar. Double shear rear track control arms. Sport mode Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) system. Extended wiring harness to accommodate retrofit of FIA approved fire extinguisher and electrical kill switch systems. Single exhaust pipe with chrome finisher. Our Lotus Elise S CUP benefits from the following extras. Comfort Pack, Metallic Paint, Towing Eye Kit, Air Conditioning, Larini Sports Exhaust, Performance Induction Kit - Sports Filter.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 2600 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise S Touring

    £22,750 £22,750

    This Lotus Elise S Touring was first registered on the March 2008. Painted in Pearlescent Solar Yellow, with black leather seats and door cards, electric windows, air conditioning, armourfended front bumper and mirrors, with Touring extras. The car has only done 9,700 miles and has a Lotus service history accompanying it. There is a Hardtop available for this Elise. **Viewing by appointment only please**

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 9700 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise R Touring with Black Pack

    £25,950 £25,950

    This Lotus Elise R Touring with Black Pack was first registered on the September 2009. Painted in Ardent Red, with black leather seats and door cards, electric windows, air conditioning, with Touring extras, plus Black Front Splitter, Induction Kit and Sports Exhaust (Original Exhaust as well) The car has only done 10,400 miles and has a Lotus service history from Lotus Cars and Lotus Main Dealers. There is a Hardtop available for this Elise. **Viewing by appointment only please**

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 10400 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise 1.8


    Vehicle Information LOTUS ELISE SI 1999(S) NOW SOLD - ALWAYS LOOKING FOR LOTUS STOCK - PLEASE RING OR EMAIL. Registered 01/01/1999 Chassis: SCCGA111OXHC35021 SUPERB and TOTALY ORIGINAL OWNERSHIP: 2 owners and 13880 miles from new. Fully documented service history by main agent and YEARLY by ALDON Automotive since purchase in 2000. All handbooks. 2 keys. TAX November 2014. MOT October 2014. CAM BELT / BRAKE FLUID REPLACED within the last 30 miles. HISTORY: Sold new by Ryland Birmingham the original owner drove the car for the following 18 months. The 2nd owner bought in June 2000 and since purchased the car has lived in a garage under cover and been on trickle charge all its life. The car has never been out in the rain since then and comes complete with a fully documented history. EXTERIOR: Finished in New Lotus Yellow Pearlescent the paintwork is all original with no stress marks to the fiberglass bodywork. As befits a car that has been under cover for the last 14 years this has responded very well to a detailed valet exhibiting a lovely unfaded look and well polished lustre with just a small amount of chipping which would reasonably be expected. These have mostly been touched and

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £46,105 £46,105

    Variant name:SPORT 220 ,Derivative:1111 ,Variant: SPORT 220 Alcantara Trim Pack, Air Conditioning, Lightweight Silver Forged Alloy Wheels, Stereo Plus Two Front Mounted Speakers, Sound Insulation, Full Carpets, Carpet Mats, Cruise Control, Auxiliary Driving Lamps, Metallic Paint. Three Year Manufacturer Warranty. 0% 50/50 Purchase Plan Available. Lotus Main Dealer Facilities. Part Exchange Welcome. Please Ask For A Finance Quotation.

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 10 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise 111S

    £14,995 £14,995

    Vehicle Information LOTUS 111S TOURING 2004(04) NOW SOLD - URGENTLY LOOKING FOR LOTUS STOCK - IMMEDIATE PAYMENT - Chassis: SCCJA111X4HN71452 Reg: 01/04/2004 HISTORY: 3 owners. 70450 miles. Extensive maintenance including 12 stamps in the book + 11 extra documented visits. 2 Keys. MOT 17/04/2018. OWNERSHIP: Lotus Cars retained for the initial 18 months and 22000 miles. Sold by JCT 600 October 2005 to the 2nd keeper who regularly drove the car. The last owner purchased March 2010 again using the car extensively keeping until until a recent p/x for another Lotus. SERVICE HISTORY: 01/04/04 PDI LOTUS CARS 27/05/04 1253 LOTUS CARS 23/09/04 9663 LOTUS CARS 25/01/05 18234 LOTUS CARS 25/10/05 22044 JCT 600 12/09/06 27061 15/02/08 32694 09/11/09 39196 16/03/11 47937 02/01/13 54904 11/04/14 62743 (Cam belt/water pump/head gasket) 03/03/16 67254 miles 11 other documented workshop visits. EXTERIOR: Finished in rare BORDEAUX metallic the paint and bodywork are in good condition retaining a very deep polished appearance with few chips of any note. INTERIOR: The leather interior is in well maintained condition with only a small amount of wear to the seats plus the usual light scuffing to the door

    • Year: 2004
    For sale
  • LOTUS ELISE S GL53 Lotus Sport Edition. Persian Blue

    £1,111,111 £1,111,111

    * SOLD - LOTUS CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* ;GORDON LAMB MOTORSPORT LTD EDITION BY LOTUS SPORT and PERFORMANCE ;Persian Blue Metallic with ProBax Sports Seats and Blue Roof;Black Nappa Leather Seats and Door Cards with Blue Sitching and Carbon Structure;Lotus Sport Logo to Headrests ;Alcantara Dash and Headrest backs with GL53 Edition Crests;Lotus Sport Aluminium Gear Lever, Handbrake and Stalks;Lotus Sport Carpets, Trim and Noise Insulution Package;Close Ratio Gearbox;AP Brakes with Blue Calipers;8 Spoke Lightwieght GL53 Edition Gold Alloy Wheels;New OEM Bridgestone RE040 Tyres;Stage 2 Lotus Sports Exhaust System;Black Rear Wheel Arch Stone Guards;Front Mud Flaps;Clear Side Indicators;Front Fog Lamps;Sony CD Music System with Bluetooth;Immobiliser;16,000 Miles (8 Lotus Main Dealer Stamps);2 Previous Owners;Standard Unmodifed Example. Complete History File Including all Previous MOT Certs, Original Service Book and Wallet, Tool Kit, Roof Storage Bag, 2 Sets Of Keys and Remotes. Previously Supplied by Ourselves, Has Been Garage Stored with Only Light Summer Use. Very Rare Low Miles, Low Ownership Ltd Ed Model In Exceptional Condition Throughout.;;

    • Mileage: 16600 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise ON SALE NOW

    £18,995 £18,995

    Lotus Elise series one presented in Yellow comes with the following specification; black leather sports seats, three spoke sports steering wheel, instrument dials in white, chrome gear and handbrake lever, twin exhaust, alarm/immobiliser and 15" alloy wheels. This Lotus is awaiting a full inspection in our workshop to include a major service with cam-belt, spark plugs, brake fluid and brakes to be changed. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Convertible Transmission: Manual Mileage: 8,000 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 1999 (V) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 1.8 Finished in: Yellow

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 8000 mi
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £26,989 £26,989

    Variant name:S ,Derivative:MK2 ,Variant: SC 1.8 Touring ACU H/Top Black Touring Pack Leather, Air Conditioning, Factory Hard Top, + Stowage Bag, Alpine CD Audio with Four Speakers, Remote Central Locking with Alarm Immobiliser, Black Soft Top, Pass Footrest, 2008MY enhancements incl. Lotus Traction Control, ABS, Driver and Passenger Airbags, LED Rear Lights and ProBax Seats. Touring Pack incl: Full Leather, Noise Insulation, Carpets, Front Driving Lamps and Stowage Net. Full Lotus Main Dealer Service History. P/Exchange Welcome. Pls Ask For A Finance Quotation.

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 26000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    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 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 Type 25 – Audi conversion


    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


    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 Sport 220

    £46,850 £46,850

    21 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 up to 257bhp/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 4.1 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 First shown in early 2017 the 17.5MY has been on a small diet losing 10kg thanks to a redesigned front clam panel, redesigned of the rear transom panel and the iconic open-gate gear selector which provides a much more positive and direct operation. The unregistered 17.5MY Elise Sport 220 offered here at Hofmann’s of Henley is finished in Metallic Racing Green with Black Leather, Full Carpets, Floor Mats, Silver Forged Wheel

    For sale
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