Even with the usage of new material and continuous efforts to boost fuel efficiency, many cars today are considerably heavier than similar models from several decades ago because of a greater emphasis on luxuries and safety that modern buyers have come to expect. But there is one significant exception to the rule. Lotus is not known for selling a lot of cars, but its entire range complies with the 'simplify and then add lightness' motto made famous by its founder, Colin Chapman. And the Elise Sprint continues with this tradition.
Even though it continuously works to create additional improvements to the base package of the Elise Sprint, the car represents the single biggest weight reduction made by Lotus since its first generation model was launched in 1996. The engineers at the carmaker’s headquarters in Hethel have cut 90 pounds (41 kilograms) from the standard model. This leaves the Sprint having a dry weight of only 1,798 pounds (798 kilograms). By way of comparison, the carbon-fiber-encased Alfa 4C weighs about 2,201 pounds (1,000 kilograms) and the Alpine A110 tips the scales at 2,381 pounds (1,080 kilograms).
The weight savings emanate from a lengthy shopping list of special components, from a lithium-ion battery to light wheels made of forged alloys and carbon race seats. These three components account for a 44 pounds (20 kilograms) reduction in weight compared to a standard vehicle. The roll-hoop cover, engine cover, and some of the smaller panels are now made using carbon fiber. This results in a further 13 pound (6 kilograms) weight saving, while a two-piece set of brake discs (optional) shaves off an additional 8.8 pounds (4 kilograms). Together, with these changes in the special Sprint package, the non-sprint Elise has undergone several weight-cutting measures. A revamped front bumper shaves 19 pounds (8.7 kilograms) and the newly-designed rear-end has two light clusters instead of four. If anyone still requires proof that the Lotus is unmatched when it comes to weight reduction, the light cluster redesign was selected partly because it saves 0.66 pounds (300 grams).
All these changes may appear to be insignificant when considered on their own, but when added up together they make a big difference. The base Elite Sprint moves from zero to 60 miles per hour (98 kilometers per hour) in just 5.9 seconds while the Elise 220 Sprint, which is more powerful, does the same in 4.1 seconds. The weight cuts should assist in enhancing the fuel economy, even though it is not really the intention here. Rather, it is yet another side-effect of bold weight savings.
According to Jean-Marc Gales, the Lotus CEO, the Elise is another example of the continuous efforts to redefine what is achievable in regard to increasing the lightness of a sports car. He adds that the weight of a lightweight, agile sports car should not exceed one tone—it should actually weigh considerably less, and it is, therefore, a great achievement from Lotus in making sure that the weight of the new type-approved Elise has gone below the 800 kilograms mark.
The Elise Sprint will be priced at US$46,248 (£37,300) when it goes on sale this coming May. Make sure yours is tied when there's a storm—it could be blown away.
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