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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

33 Search results
Lotus Elise
14995 1111111 GBP
  • Lotus Elise

    £28,495 £28,495

    Variant name:16V ,Derivative:MK2 ,Variant: SC TOURING 241BHP

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 16700 mi
    • Engine size: 1.8
    For sale
    Snows Motor Group-Lotus Hedge End
    01489 664496 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Lotus Elise 1.6

    £28,950 £28,950

    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 face lifted 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 2016 “16 Plate” model Lotus Elise 1.6 offered at Hofmanns is finished in Red with Black Leather interior. Having covered a mere 3,700 miles the sys catching Elise boasts the following factory options: Lotus Power Pack Upgrade, Stereo with 4 Speak

    For sale
  • Lotus Elise

    £25,950 £25,950

    Variant name:Convertible ,Derivative:CR ,Variant: Convertible 1.6 136 EU5 CR 6Spd 2013 ( 63 ) Finished in Starlight Black with Black/Yellow Full Leather Interior - Upgrades Include - Sports Exhaust, Rear Spoiler, Hard Top, Probax Seat Upgrade, LED Running Lights, Standard Features - Central locking, Electric windows, Alarm, Power steering, Radio, 12 Spoke Alloy Wheels, Air conditioning, 2 seats.

    • Year: 2013
    • Mileage: 4576 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    For sale
  • Lotus Elise ON SALE NOW

    £17,495 £17,495

    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: 34,600 Fuel Type: Petrol Registered: 2003 (03) Doors: 2 Engine Size: 1.8 Finished in: Lazer Blue

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 34600 mi
    For sale
  • 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

    £20,989 £20,989

    Variant name:16V ,Derivative:MK2 ,Variant: 1.6 Touring Touring Pack, Ebony Black Leather Pro-Bax seats, Padded leather door panels, Perforated leather door inserts, Leather trimmed centre console, Black perforated leather handbrake lever gaiter, Black carpet mats with embroidered Elise logo, Noise insulation panelling, Auxiliary driving lamps, iPod stereo connection with 4 speakers, Trinket tray divider and cup holder, Cruise control, Factory Hardtop & Soft-top. ACU - Air Conditioning, Lightweight Cast Alloy Wheels in Hi-Power Silver. Lotus Approved. Full Lotus Service History.

    • Year: 2010
    • Mileage: 18000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.6
    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 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
  • Lotus Elise 111R 16V SPORTS RACER


    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
  • Lotus Elise 111R 16V TOURING


    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
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