• 2011 Lotus Elise

Avg. Price Paid:$33,896 - $35,952
Original MSRP: $51,845 - $54,990
MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy

2011 Lotus Elise Performance

This performance review was written when the 2011 Lotus Elise was new.

With its impressive acceleration, nimble handling and accurate steering, reviewers love the 2011 Lotus Elise’s performance.

  • "As you might expect of a car with 218hp and weighing only about a ton, the performance of the 2011 Elise SC is astonishing with 0-60 mph acceleration time in the mid four second range." -- Autoblog 
  • "Given how stupidly awesome and amazing the Lotus Elise is right out of the box, that it is now offering a "Performance Package" could almost be interpreted as a joke, sort of like Burger King selling a "Heart Attack Edition" Double Whopper with cheese." -- Car and Driver
  • "For those willing to put up with its heavily compromised utility and comfort, the… Lotus Elise provides the most unfiltered driving experience of any roadster sold today." -- Edmunds 
  • "The Lotus Elise is the ideal fair-weather weekend canyon runner and enthusiast track car. It is arguably the most agile, best driving sportscar in the world, a sports bike on four wheels. Nothing is faster or more rewarding from A to B, particularly if A to B is filled with dramatic curves. " -- New Car Test Drive

Acceleration and Power

The Elise’s small size and light weight allow it to keep pace with sports cars that are nearly twice as powerful. It’s a winning formula for performance, and reviewers are impressed.

The standard Elise comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 189 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and 133 pound-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. Opt for the Elise SC, and you’ll see a slight power gain thanks to the addition of a non-intercooled M45 supercharger. The Lotus SC makes 218 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 156 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. Regardless of the model you choose, the Elise comes with a six-speed manual transmission.

According to Lotus, the standard Elise can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, while the Elise SC does it in 4.3. Base and SC models have top speeds of 138 and 145 mph, respectively. By comparison, the Porsche Boxster S has a 310-horsepower flat-six, and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in five seconds. However, the Boxster S does have a higher top speed of 170 mph.

The EPA has not released fuel economy estimates for the 2011 Lotus Elise; however, the 2010 base model got 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the Elise SC managed 20/26 mpg city/highway fuel economy. These are good numbers compared to other luxury sports cars. The Chevrolet Corvette, for example, only gets 16/26 mpg city/highway fuel economy. Still, the Elise’s small, 10.6-gallon tank means that you might stop just as frequently for gas.

  • "In keeping with its role as a supremely fast road car rather than extreme track machine, throttle response is very progressive but also very direct, resulting in a measured, refined driving experience." -- Autoblog 
  • "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
  • "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

Handling and Braking 

Reviewers love the Elise’s communicative steering and balanced handling, but note that the Elise’s stiff suspension means that it’s better suited to track days than running errands. If you’re looking for a luxury sports car that’s more usable on a daily basis, don’t overlook the Porsche Boxster. The Boxster is more comfortable than the Elise, and it also offers nimble handling with more room for cargo. These qualities make the Porsche a good compromise if you’re looking for a sports car that’s capable on the track, but still functional in the real world.

  • "Few cars can match the delicacy and accuracy of the steering, throttle and brakes of the Elise and all of these factors contribute to the excellent driving experience of the Elise." -- Autoblog 
  • "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
  • "The steering is crisp and wonderfully communicative, the brakes are tuned so that the ABS intervenes only at the very last moment and the gearbox has a crisp, positive feel (even if it could use a slightly shorter throw between gears). As always with a Lotus, the ride quality is also better than it has any right to be in a car this focused on pure performance." -- Edmunds
  • ”Remember, this is a car with manual steering; no trace of (or need for) power assist. 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: 5/11/11

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