Raw, immersive and so beautifully simple it doesn’t even come with a roof – or a radio. Is the Elise Cup 250 the most single-minded Lotus ever?
When it comes to hard driving on both road and track, Lotus has unleashed what it considers to be the ultimate roadster. The Cup 250 is significantly faster than its Cup 220 predecessor, with functional styling cues such as a dramatic new aero and forged wheels adding to the purposeful look. Performance-heads will also clock the wider, stickier front tyres, AP Racing front calipers, Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers and adjustable front anti-roll bar.
In deference to Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s philosophy of simplifying and then adding lightness, numerous tweaks have resulted in a 921kg kerbweight at the Elise 250 Cup’s trimmest. These include our test car’s optional Carbon Aero pack, which saves 10kg by replacing the standard front splitter, rear wing, diffuser and floor extensions with carbon panels.
The supercharged 1798cc engine pumps out 243bhp, resulting in a claimed 3.9-second 0-60mph sprint and 154mph top speed. Boosted traction means the newcomer beats the Elise Cup 220 round the Lotus test track by four seconds, at 1min 32sec – which actually rivals the Exige V6 S’s performance. Serious stuff.
The cabin is as spartan as the Cup 250’s driver-focused, back-to-basics ethos would lead you to expect – yet it’s also unexpectedly comfortable. The communicative steering and those chunkier tyres give beautifully unfiltered feedback, while the eager four-cylinder engine provides instant response and a strong 184lb ft of torque at
3,500-5,500rpm. Peak power comes in at 7,200rpm, which makes pushing the car to the limit in every one of its positive-shifting gears rewarding and exciting in equal measure. Tremendously well sorted brakes haul the Elise back down again without fuss.
Handling, ride and feedback are just as impressive on the track as they are on the road, and befit the car’s steep £45,600 price.
Claimed downforce of 155kg mean the Lotus feels supremely stable, grippy and composed at all speeds, inspiring confidence and providing ultimate involvement. Sport mode slackens off the traction control just enough for track work, while switching the function off completely results in challenging but hardly intimidating agility.
‘Intense’ and ‘invigorating’ are the words that best describe the new Elise Cup 250, particularly in its simplest form – although we expect most buyers will specify a radio and the no-cost-option roof just to give a tad more comfort behind the wheel. As a back-to-basics roadster in its rawest, most thrilling form, this is Lotus at its very best.
Lotus Elise Cup 250
On sale: Now
Engine: 4cyl, 1798cc, supercharged, petrol
Power: 243bhp @ 7200rpm
Torque: 184lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
Gearbox: 6spd manual
Kerbweight: 921kg (unladen, with Carbon Aero pack)
Top speed: 154mph
Economy: 37.7mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 175g/km, 32%