• 2009 Lotus Elise

Original MSRP: $47,250 - $54,990
MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy

2009 Lotus Elise Review

This review was written when the 2009 Lotus Elise was new.

The road-ripping Lotus Elise is a track runner's dream come true. To everyone else, it's a unique -- yet under-equipped -- paperweight. However, those in the market for an adrenaline-pumping sports roadster will not be disappointed.

Introduced to the U.S. in 2005, the Lotus Elise has built a cult following for its performance-first attitude. In fact, the Elise is so performance-oriented that its engineers have deprived it of many creature comforts found in competing sports cars simply to keep its weight down. And the payoff is great -- it blasts from 0 to 60 mph in the same amount of time as much more expensive supercars and handles just as marvelously.

Though its lack of comfort and convenience detract from its daily usability, test drivers assure that track runners and back-road burners will find that the trade-off is well worth it. "Taken in sum, the Lotus Elise is a fantastic car for a comparatively limited audience that gets it and can actually use it," writes New Car Test Drive. "For everyone else, including those specifically interested in high-performance sports cars bordering on supercars, there are other choices in the market likely to be more useful, accommodating and appealing."

If you're in the market for a sports roadster with more luxury and practicality, check out the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4. Both provide more horsepower than the Elise, but neither are as quick off the line. They do, however, feature loads of standard convenience features, premium materials and safety technology that the Elise lacks. They're also more comfortable to drive on a daily basis. In addition, their abundant cargo room makes them more practical.

If the Elise's performance-first, no-frills design appeals to you, also consider the Lotus Exige. The base Exige provides as much horsepower as the top-of-the-line Elise SC. There's a 240-horspower model too. Otherwise, this traditional coupe provides much of the same advantages and disadvantages of owning an Elise. While it starts at nearly $10K more, gear heads can take solace in the fact that it's also a more capable performer.

The '09 Elise is available in two trims, the base Elise and supercharged Elise SC. Both feature a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

  • "The Lotus Elise SC is the automotive equivalent of a beautiful but high-maintenance girlfriend -- difficult, but clearly worth the trouble.  ... The Elise might be impractical, but on the right road, it can still deliver like few others." -- Edmunds
  • "This roadster is for those who want a street-legal go-kart, as many weight-reducing measures-such as a lack of creature comforts-endow it with rare agility and race-car-like performance. New supercharged engine calms the on/off nature of the standard engine." -- Car and Driver
Review Last Updated: 2/10/10

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