There are lightweight cars, and then there are lightweight cars. The new Lotus Elise Sprint falls in the latter category.
Lotus claims the Elise Sprint's weight loss is the biggest reduction since the first-generation Elise. Thanks to extensive use of lightweight materials, this new Elise Sprint weighs just 1,759 pounds, a weight loss of about 90 pounds. It's some 600 pounds lighter than the new Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The weight savings came from, well, everywhere. A lithium-ion battery drops 20 pounds. Carbon race seats shed another 13 pounds. Lightweight wheels remove yet another 11 pounds, and a polycarbonate rear windshield lowers the curb weight by 13 pounds, as well. Other weight-saving components are shared across other Elise vehicles, including two-piece brake discs (9 pounds).
The Elise Sprint is available with two engine options. The base 1.6-liter engine offers 134 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque, which provides enough forward thrust to hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Opt for the supercharged 1.8-liter engine, and output rises to 217 horsepower and 184 torques, while the 0-60 time drops to 4.1 seconds. Its manual transmission has an open gate design, which looks the business (check it out in the gallery below).
Lotus made some modifications to the Elise's aesthetics as well, which applies across the entire lineup. The front and rear fasciae have been updated; the number of taillights is cut in half. It takes its new center console from the Exige. There's even an optional infotainment system with Bluetooth and iDevice connectivity.
That all sounds quite expensive, but surprisingly, it isn't. The most basic Elise, the Sport, goes on sale in the UK with a starting price of £32,300 ($39,945). Moving to the 1.6-liter Sprint bumps the price to £37,300 ($46,130). Power-hungry drivers will have to spend £39,300 ($48,585) for the Elise Sport 220, or £44,300 ($54,765) for the Elise Sprint 220.