Lotus has made the Elise faster than ever with the Cup 260The Elise has been with us for quite some time, but with the Cup 260, can Lotus prove it's still relevant today?
Welcome to the quickest, most hardcore road going Los Feliz ever to emerge from the Lotus Factory. Welcome to the Cup 260. [MUSIC] Just 30 of these very special Elises will be built. It's bare numbers are 250 brake horsepower, 188 pounds for the torque, not to 60 miles an hour in just 3.8 seconds, and a dry weight of 852 kilos. There's carbon fiber from the splitter. To seats. To roof. To engine cover. To rear wing. And then the titanium exhaust to top it all off. When I knew I was coming here today I went off and laughed at home. And dug out a few these. These are original sketches and brochures and things. You can just pick it up from dealers but I had these pinned up because of the Blue tack on the back of them, and off my desk at school. Because I was slightly obsessed by the Elise. And it's amazing really to think how far the car has come. The fact that we're still in this machine that was sort of here 22 years ago. Merely, well still, drawings on bits of paper. And here we are now. It's come a long way. I loved its simplicity. Its looks. Its lack of weight. And the fact that it cost relatively little. And, of course, that it had the famous Lotus badge on it. Other than pure power, it seemed to be offering almost everything I could want in a car. In many respects, the [UNKNOWN] hasn't changed in over 20 years. It's essential character is still exact and the same as that series one that I had stopped to my desk. The [UNKNOWN] still relevant and exciting today and can you really make an Elise as worth 60,000 pounds Lotus is asking for this one. It certainly looks a million dollars and it's championship gold paint work Which is a tribute to this photo of Collin Chapman sitting on the front arch of a similarly painted S2 Espirit. Talking Collin Chapman, we're at [UNKNOWN] which is the World War Two airbase that Collin Chapman bought for the company. How lucky are [UNKNOWN] to have this? [SOUND] Right on their doorstep and they can come out and test cars whenever they like, and they know things. Like the fact that this car is 2.5 seconds quicker around this track than the Cup 250 which is a chunk about what is roughly sort of a 90 second lap for this car. [SOUND] So how have they made the Cup 260 so much quicker around a lap? Well, in typical Lotus fashion, it's not through extra power, as the 260 only has increases of four brake horsepower and four pounds foot. The time has fallen off for two main reasons. Firstly, the new AD08R tires from Yokohama, not only are they new compound, but they're now ten inches wider than the tires on a Cup 250. And the fronts are a massive 30 millimeters wider than a standard release. The second reason is that this has a whopping 44% more down force than the Cup 250. The down forces mostly come from the enoromous rear wing, lifted high by beautiful billeted aluminum supports. It is essentially a slightly truncated version of the one found on the Wild 311. And the reason they will be able to put a [UNKNOWN] wing at the back is thanks to the dents in the front arches just there, relieving pressure over the front. And it's nice, because it means that you know you are in something special when you are in this car, because the whole time you can see, just as those front arches these gills, like something from a It's sharp. The most worthless 60,000 pounds on the road. [NOISE] So given this car, you got more grip than the tires, more grip than the aero, you might think that it's All grip and no fun but actually this has to be the most progressive of these that I have ever driven just grab it by the scruff of the neck. It is amazingly faithful. A few of you might be confused or even put off by the [INAUDIBLE] 260's fixed hard top roof Obviously, it needs it for the aero to work properly. The appeal of the Elise is surely that the roof is removable, I agree. Then, after awhile driving it, it occurred to me that this isn't an Elise. This, is a continuation of the original two generations of Exige, the ones with the force in all the motors. Sort of like that. I think it makes much more sense. This is on Nicon springs [UNKNOWN] chassis has been used on [UNKNOWN] version of cars before and it's also got lower ride height, and it's also got more rake to it. To give it more front end grip. [INAUDIBLE]. So when you go into corners, when it does break away, you don't want it going too far. You just want to hold small angles, really, otherwise it can still get away from you there. But [SOUND] It's just such a fun car. [SOUND] [MUSIC] Over the years the engines have changed from Rover K Series to Toyota, and some cars like this one have even found themselves with superchargers. Radios, air conditioning, carpets, carbon fiber, air bags, ABS, and electric windows have all found their way into Elise's for better or worse. But one thing has remained largely unchanged, the chassis. This has been the heart of the Elise for what, 22 years. Some would say, why haven't they changed it? Because they haven't found anything better, this is only giving away four kilos to the carbon On the chassis of an Alpha 4C. It's very simple, but actually still very technologically advanced. It is made from pieces of extruded aluminium, and these pieces can be thinner, because they are bonded by glue, which doesn't weaken the metal like welding. [NOISE] And of course, the whole point of that chassis out here. It's a light weight. Now some people think that that will make the car, well, flighty, sort of like a ping pong ball I suppose. But I mean, it's still maybe 900 kilos curb weight. And last time I looked, that weighs more than a cow and I don't think of a cow as small and flighty. But it means Is you can have a car that doesn't rely on too much assistance. [BLANK_AUDIO] So you can feel it more. It doesn't have to be disguised because the weight is [SOUND] Just low enough that you can manage it without all sorts of [INAUDIBLE] This is Winsong quarter, you can really feel the arrow through here. [INAUDIBLE] Flooring it up to 250 which is 180 kilos at 155 miles an hour. This is the first time I've used this. Beautiful gear box down here. Really exposed working is like The back of a mechanical watch. [NOISE] It's a much chunkier shift than [NOISE] I remember certainly from the very early Lee's which felt pretty flimsy, to be honest. [NOISE] So can a Lee's be worth 60,000 pounds. [SOUND] [INAUDIBLE] In this world where hot hatches seem to be climbing in price and you get more and more specialized versions of those. With more power, and more grip, and more aero. [SOUND] I think this, it justifies it, it's a very special thing. Everyone goes on about loads of steering. Its true, its absolutely true. Just to have that weight and you can be able to feel what the back tires are doing, how they're loading up. She can here, flick it one way, now we're [LAUGH] What a fun car. The setup is, of course, adjustable. We're about a third away from full stiffness for the track setting, and then i'ts about halfway for the race setting, so it can go a lot softer. Talking of which we should probably go try this on the road. I just want to fly out here all day. Single knob on each damper easily adjusts rebound and compression through a range of 24 clicks, and Lotus suggests somewhere in the middle for the road. After having, to be honest, too much fun on the track, it was early evening by the time we hit the road. But the [UNKNOWN] arguable felt even more alive, [UNKNOWN] of [UNKNOWN]. I guess it is worth driving on the road Because when you drive on the track you tend to drive flat out, whereas here you get to just enjoy the weighting of the pedals and the gear shift. And that steering comes alive even more. It definitely works as a road car as well. [SOUND] Yes, the big rear wing might look a little silly on the road. But the same thing with a GT RS. I love the idea, you turn out to a track day, beat 90% of the other cars there, and then just motor home. There's something very cool about it. And in case there was ever any debt. Yes, the Little Elise, in whatever form you can afford one, [MUSIC] feels every bit as essential, exciting, and relavent in today's motoring landscape as it did in 1995. In fact, I believe more so. [MUSIC]