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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Nine
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Issue Nine
October 29, 2003
Fernandez Racing
Fernandez Interview
Hot Lap: Strong Strut
CPO Nightmares
Lotus Elise Preview
Coming Next Issue
Bimmer Roundup Coverage
Hot Lap: The Wheel Exchange
Review PowerBook G4 17 inch
Want Clean Glass?

Elusive Elise Lands Stateside
By Alan Riley
Executive Editor

(Monday, September 8, 2003 1:15 PM EST)

Lotus Factory

Lotus Elise at the factory

Lotus Elise

Lotus Elise Interior

Lotus Elise on a drive

Important Links

Elise Message Board
Hungry U.S. sports car enthusiasts have had to go to bed without dinner year after year while their European counterparts dined on hearty helpings of high-performance, fun-to-drive super cars, and that hunger has left U.S. enthusiasts with a bad taste in their collective mouths.

Now, after months (well, more like years) of a diet that consisted primarily of begging and pleading for crumbs of information, U.S. sports car aficionados are getting to sink their teeth into what may be the "world's finest sports car." If you think that sounds like marketing hyperbole, then you haven't had a chance to drive the car that will easily serve-up a tasty dish of whoop-ass to sports cars costing two, three, and four times as much.

The course de jour is, of course, the Lotus Elise. Lotus is known worldwide as not only a manufacturer of some of the finest sports cars available, but also as an automotive engineering and research group from whom nearly every major car manufacturer in the world has commissioned work. The Elise embodies the diverse palette of talents that is Lotus.

The Elise has received many industry awards and accolades for its unique mix of design and performance. It showcases the Lotus design philosophy of achieving performance and efficiency through light weight. The Elise chassis is extremely strong, yet very svelte (under 150-lbs!), due largely to its extruded and bonded aluminum construction.

In January 2003, Lotus officially announced what had only been a rumor for many months before -- the Elise was coming to the U.S. Known to insiders as the "Federal" Elise, this model will determine the future of Lotus Cars USA. The Elise supplants the Esprit as the bread-and-butter of the firm, with only a few "2003.5" Esprits remaining and only 39 Esprits slated to be built for the U.S. market as 2004 models.

In what may be the latest and most juicy morsel of news, Lotus has officially announced the engine choice for the Federal Elise: the 1.8 liter 4-cylinder 16-valve Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine with the VVTL-i (Variable Valve Timing and Lift-Intelligent) system. The Federal Elise's 2ZZ-GE motor is based on the engine used in the Celica GT-S, but has undergone Lotus' own special brand of tweaking and will produce 190 HP and 133-lb/ft. of torque in stock form.

The engine is sure to be a spicy little screamer, with a 8350-RPM floating redline (8000 sustained RPM redline), and will be mated to a 6-speed close-ratio transmission from the European-only Celica T Sport. (Ed note: this is NOT the same 6-speed transmission from the U.S. Celica GT-S.)

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