• 2010 Lotus Elise

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

2010 Lotus Elise Performance

This performance review was written when the 2010 Lotus Elise was new.

Critics are wowed by the 2010 Elise's super car abilities. One reviewer has even gone so far as to call it "the best driving production car in the world." 

  • The Elise is "a one-of-a-kind, lightweight sports car for purists who yearn for the closest thing to a telepathically controlled track special you can find on the road." -- Edmunds
  • "Elise's almost unparalleled agility and speed make it tantalizingly seductive. But, as is so often the case, seduction comes at a cost. For street use, the Elise is less practical than, say, the Corvette or any Aston Martin. It is less usable than a Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallardo.  ... Don't forget, Elise is a marvelous car for those seeking fair-weather weekend thrill rides and occasional track time. For the commute, use the Camry." -- New Car Test Drive

Acceleration and Power

Clever engineering allows the 2010 Lotus Elise to keep pace with sports cars that generate nearly double its horsepower. Reviewers are thoroughly impressed.

The Elise is equipped with a 1.8-liter I4 engine that produces 189 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and 133 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. The Lotus SC gains a slight power advantage over the base model with its non-intercooled M45 supercharger that ups its strength to 218 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 156 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard.

According to Lotus, the Elise can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, while the SC does it in 4.4. Both have a top speed of 150 mph. Comparatively, the Boxster S, with its 310-horspower V6,  has a maximum speed of 170 mph, but needs 4.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. For even greater Lotus power, check out the Exige -- which blasts from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds with its 218-horsepower I4 and 4.0 seconds with its 240-horsepower I4.

The EPA rates the 2010 Elise‘s city/highway fuel economy at 20/26 mpg, which is on par with class rivals.

  • "Despite a mere 189 hp generated from its Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter four-cylinder, the base Elise still manages to go from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Credit a curb weight of 1,984 pounds, which is a minor miracle in this era of perpetually pudgy vehicles. By comparison, a Mazda Miata weighs 2,498 pounds and has only 170 hp aboard." -- Edmunds
  • "Elise's small size, combined with its remarkably light weight, result in astounding quickness derived more from sheer efficiency than outright power. What other fast cars do with 400 or more horsepower Elise does with around 200." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Perhaps the only disadvantage to the Elise, due in part to its small overall footprint, is the 10.6-gal. fuel tank, which gives this 2-seater maximum range of less than 300 miles." -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

Test drivers admire the Elise’s communicative and intuitive handling dynamics, but don’t recommend it for daily use as its stiff suspension and limited utility make it impractical for running errands.

The Elise, and the Exige for that matter, are best reserved for back-road burns and running laps at the track. If your in the market for a luxury sports car that’s better suited for daily jaunts, check out the Porsche Boxster and Cayman, which combine comfortable, yet sporty, handling dynamics with above average cargo room, rendering them practical for both road and track.

  • "Handling is nothing short of extraordinary. Not only does the Elise exhibit superb balance and grip through the turns, its exceptionally low curb weight allows it to react to driver inputs much faster than other cars. In addition, it transmits every ripple in the road to the driver's hands, feet and seat -- a quality that makes it highly engaging to drive on a back road or on the track, but taxing during highway travel." -- Edmunds
  • "Quick and informative steering, balanced and reactive handling, track-ready but still entertaining on the street. Supercharged version is smoother but not much faster." -- Car and Driver
  • "Elise is likely the best driving production car in the world.  ... Ask the average Lotus owner what characterizes Lotus most, and the answer is usually quickness, litheness and phenomenal handling. The Elise proves the point. The most salient and notable Elise driving characteristic is what might best be called telepathic steering.  ... Approach a turn, any turn, and the Elise behaves as if it has forecasted the turn coming up and starts steering ahead of your actual input. No fight. No resistance. No hesitation. Just the most predictive and responsive steering of any street car. Steering that makes bad drivers look great. Steering that makes good drivers gods." -- New Car Test Drive
Review Last Updated: 4/12/10

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