loading Loading please wait....

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
collapse this

search results

43 Results

search results

Lotus Elise
12975 35995 GBP
  • LOTUS ELISE 111R - HARD TOP - 189 BHP - INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

    £20,995 £20,995

    With 189 BHP Toyota power, a six-speed gearbox and the most impressive ride and handling compromise since its launch, the Elise is better than ever. On most roads this firepower vehicle will keep all but the most determined Ferrari driver honest. We've said it all before about the Elise's chassis and the fact that its diminutive size allows you to push where a bigger car would force a bit of a pause for thought and mental measurement. This Magnetic Blue example comes with optional Hard Top, Blaupunkt digital radio and MP3/CD player, remote central locking and electric windows. Please make an enquiry below or book an appointment on 01727 858000 to view this car.

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 49000 mi
    For sale
    £20,995 £20,995
    Romans of St Albans
    01727 858000 View contact number
  • Lotus Elise ON SALE NOW

    £16,995 £16,995

    Lotus Elise 111S presented in Lazer Blue comes with a full history and the following specification; Black leather, three spoke leather steering wheel, radio with USB, alcantara dash, alcantara gear lever, vehicle tracker, black roof and 16" alloy wheels finished in Graphite. Part exchange welcome, competitive finance available. Viewings welcome by appointment only. Body: Convertible Transmission: Manual Mileage: 37,600 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2003 (03) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 1.8 Finished in: Lazer Blue

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 37600 mi
    For sale
    £16,995 £16,995
  • Lotus Elise

    POA POA

    - A one owner example that has covered just 25,500 miles from new - Highly desirable S1 'Lightweight' variant complete with composite brake discs and an aluminium engine cover - The 3rd of just 4 1997-season, UK-market Elises to be finished in Midnight Blue Metallic with Charcoal leather upholstery

    • Year: 1997
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise 111R 16V TOURING

    POA POA

    Vehicle Information LOTUS ELISE 111R SUPER TOURING 2006(06) NOW SOLD: ALWAYS LOOKING TO REPLACE LOTUS STOCK. PLEASE CONTACT GILES FOR A CHAT Chassis SCCPC11106HN31906 2006 Model Year HISTORY: 4 owners, 18835 miles from new. FULL SERVICE HISTORY with 8 entries in the book c/w invoice documentation. MOT 25/07/2015. 2sets of keys. Complete hand book pack. OWNERSHIP: Delivered new by Dick Lovett in Wiltshire to a local owner. One year later the car is resold to the next keeper from Hampshire who retains for the following 18 months. The 3rd owner motors on for just 9 months prior to the last purchasing via Stratstone in January 2010. A recent p/x with myself for a newer example completes the picture. SERVICE DETAILS: 10/07/2006 Dick Lovett. PDI 29/08/2006 Dick Lovett 1423 miles 18/10/2007 Dick Lovett 3092 24/10/2009. JCT 600 6854 20/01/2010 Stratstone 8665 23/03/2011 Castle Lotus 11971 06/07/2011 Castle Lotus 14694 26/07/2013 Castle Lotus 16648 (updated ECU) 25/07/2014 Castle Lotus 18244 ( 2 new rear Bilstein dampers) EXTERIOR: Looking simply beautiful in pearl SOLAR yellow the bodywork carries no damage of any sort with the original paintwork in very well polished condition with no scr

    • Year: 2006
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise 111R 16V SPORTS RACER

    POA POA

    Vehicle Information LOTUS ELISE 111R SPORTS RACER 2006(06) ALWAYS LOOKING FOR STOCK - PLEASE RING OR EMAIL LIMITED EDITION NO: 77/100 CHASSIS SCCPA11196HC31841 OWNERSHIP: 2 owners and 10069 miles from new. Full main dealer service history with 6 stamps in the book plus invoice documentation. Last serviced 23/06/2014 at 9741 miles. 2 sets of keys, All handbooks. TAX 31/12/2014. MOT 07/07/2015. HISTORY: Supplied new by Christopher Neil’s to a gentlemen from St Helens who kept the car for 16 months. The 2nd keeper from Hertfordshire garaged the car in his 6 year care and drove just 4500 miles on sunny summer days only. His disposal was entirely due to the imminent arrival of a new Lotus which undoubtably will receive the same care and attention as this car. EXTERIOR: Using the previous owners words he was of the view that this was probably ‘The best condition Sports Racer available’. Certainly the fully lacquered Ardent Red paintwork with Triple Monaco white stripes is apart from one chip in pretty much as it would have been when new. The paint protection film at the front looks equally unmarked. When viewed the appearance is simply outstanding, immediately drawing the fullest admirat

    • Year: 2006
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise S1 111S, 1999. One owner from new! Stunning condition throughout in beautiful Inferno Red metallic

    £19,995 £19,995

    Lotus Elise S1 111S, 1999. One owner from new and only used in the Summer months! He tells us that the car has never been taken out in the rain. He did however get caught when he did not read the weather forecast! He took his shoes off before getting into the car and drove in moccasins, such was his fastidiousness. Stunning condition throughout in beautiful Inferno Red metallic. Black leather seats. Detachable steering wheel with original one retained. Driving lamps (spots). Factory hardtop in the same body colour. 33k miles. A separate driver’s seat was fitted for extra comfort when the car was virtually new and the original one retained. Extremely original condition with exceptional paintwork. Cam-belt replacement in 2015. A really desirable one owner example. Comes fully serviced and MOT’d.

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
    £19,995 £19,995
  • Lotus Elise S1, 2000. Stunning low mileage example in Norfolk Mustard yellow with matching hard-top.

    £16,995 £16,995

    Lotus Elise S1, 2000. Stunning example in Norfolk Mustard yellow with matching hard-top. Superb example having been meticulously maintained by the last gentleman owner for 14 years and just two owners before him. Just 33k miles with a fully stamped up service history. Supplied by the London Lotus Centre from new and subsequently serviced by them and Bell & Colvill in Surrey and other specialists. Every MOT certificate to confirm the low progression of the mileage which equates to an average of around 1,900 miles per annum. Fitted with driving lamps, removable steering wheel and stereo system. Comes with all of the original books and records. Superb example which has been very well looked after indeed. Comes with full MOT and service prior to delivery/collection.

    • Year: 2000
    • Mileage: 1900 mi
    For sale
    £16,995 £16,995
  • 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
    £22,750 £22,750
  • Lotus Elise SC Touring

    £27,950 £27,950

    This Lotus Elise SC Touring was first registered on the October 2009. Painted in Pearlescent Solar Yellow, with black leather seats and door cards, electric windows, with Touring extras and Supercharger makes it a fantastic Elise to drive. The car has only done 20,700 miles with one owner from new and has a Lotus service history accompanying it. There is a Hardtop available for this Elise. **Viewing by appointment only please**

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 20500 mi
    For sale
    £27,950 £27,950
  • Lotus Elise 111R Touring Super Charged

    £22,950 £22,950

    This stunning Lotus Elise 111R Touring Black Pack with Lotus Supercharger, Toyota engine 6 speed manual, triple layer up rated radiator, AP Racing callipers, Ebony black leather interior, electric windows, Air Con, Armourfended front, finished in Metallic Black with Black Alloy wheels, having only covered 31000 miles with service history. Please contact our service team for further information.

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    For sale
    £22,950 £22,950
  • Lotus Elise S2 Sport 190 2003

    POA POA

    This very rare example is finished in Ardent red with white stripes, factory hard top and soft top. Sports seats and 4 point harnesses are standard. She has covered just 30,000 miles with full Lotus history. Shod on Yokohama A048 tyres with Bilstein uprated suspension and 190 BHP on tap, you have a street legal race car! Fewer than 35 sport 190’s were built making them very collectable indeed.

    For sale
    POA POA
  • 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
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise S1 1998

    £18,995 £18,995

    Lotus Elise S1 1998 Finished in new aluminium with Grey upholstery. One former keeper and One lady owner since 1999. Only 23,000 miles from new with full service history. This lovely Elise is unmolested and totally standard. The hood and interior are like new. Original cars like this one are rocketing in value, what a rare find!

    • Year: 1998
    For sale
    £18,995 £18,995
  • Lotus Elise S2 111S 2005

    £18,495 £18,495

    This Elise 111S is finished in Titainium with red leather upholstery. The car is supplied with factory hard and soft tops, full Lotus history, Janspeed sports exhaust, new Nitron springs and dampers and Yokohama tyres. Power rated at 156 BHP comes from the Rover VVC engine which delivers smooth progressive power from low revs. The 111S is now very sort after and rising in value.

    For sale
    £18,495 £18,495
  • Lotus Elise 111S Type 25 2004 SOLD!

    POA POA

    This beautiful one owner Type 25 Elise has covered 36,000 miles from new with full Lotus history and has been sympathetically upgraded with a single exit sports exhaust, ITG induction kit, all alloy motor sport radiator and Exige air intakes. the tyres are new Yokohama AD07. Power is rated at 161 BHP. It comes with a factory hard top and soft top. The seats are probax with 4 point harnesses.

    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise S1 2000

    POA POA

    Finished in New Aluminium with red leather and Lotus embossed grey alcantara seats. Factory hard and soft tops, 56,000 miles with large history file. Nitron adjustable spring and dampers, new Toyo Proxes tyres. Large throttle body with Hurricane induction kit and sports exhaust. This is a well sorted Elise with pin sharp handling.

    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lotus Elise S 20th Anniversary Special Edition 2016

    £33,995 £33,995

    This is a special lighter Lotus Elise commemorating 20 years of Lotus Elise production. She is finished in Lotus yellow with black leather and yellow stitched upholstery. She has cover only 2000 miles and is as new throughout. This car is supplied with factory hard and soft tops, forged light alloy wheels, air conditioning, switchable traction control, DPM sports mode and ABS brakes. Power comes from the Toyota 1.8 supercharged engine and is rated at 217 BHP with 0 – 60 in just 4.2 seconds!

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
    £33,995 £33,995