While the Elise was available for some time in Great Britain, it only came to US shores in 2004. It’s certainly not a car to be driven every day; it’s purity of design makes for a very Spartan, minimalist interior. Its suspension is tuned for the track and even ingress and egress from the cabin requires a fair degree of agility. And at full throttle, the cacophony from the engine bay and the exhaust will soon leave you unable to hear anything else.
In its element, however, this 2000 lb. roadster rewards its driver like few other cars can. It’s very light weight, combines with its hugely stiff structure, give it the ability to carve back roads like a supercar. The Elise is built from a modular aluminum structure that is bonded and riveted together. Steel sub frames and composite body panels round out this package.
The power for this micro sports car comes from a Toyota sourced 1.8 liter four cylinder. While not the most imposing of engines, it doesn’t’ have much mass to pull around, so it still remains a very responsive option.
Engines: 1.8L I-4, 1.8L supercharged I-4
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Models: Elise, Elise SC
The 2010 Elise offers a $3665 Performance Value Package that includes an Alcantara-trimmed interior, a body-colored hardtop, traction control, sport seats, twin oil coolers, and a harness bar. The package represents an overall savings of more than $3300.
From the low-slung stubby nose and quad taillamps to the center-mounted exhaust and side-mounted air inlets, the Elise wears striking styling that commands attention. A black soft-top is standard but can be replaced with an optional removable hardtop.
Standard fare includes air conditioning, an Alpine four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, an anti-theft alarm system, a leather-wrapped Momo steering wheel, and black-cloth sport seats. Black leather trim, iPod connectivity, and a sound-insulated soft-top are optional.
The Elise’s naturally aspirated 1.8-liter I-4 delivers 189 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque; the SC’s supercharged mill bumps figures to 220 horsepower and 153 pound-feet. Its 0-to-60 times range from around 4.5 seconds for the SC to roughly 5.0 ticks for the base car. The Elise’s chassis features AP Racing brakes and a control-arm suspension with Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs.
Driver and passenger front airbags are standard, as are seatbelt pretensioners and an immobilizer alarm. Standard dynamic safety technologies include traction control, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.
Elise: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway
Elise SC: 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway
- Go-kart handling
- Quick acceleration
- High exclusivity
- Open-top motoring
- Lack of cargo
- Engine and road noise
- Rear visibility
- No dead pedal
A ton – literally – of fun
- Audi TTS Roadster
- Porsche Boxster S
- Mazda MX-5 Miata