• Go-kart handling makes for a great track car
  • Supercar styling for less than half the cost
  • Toyota engine means good reliability and cheap parts


  • Extremely tight cabin for even medium-sized drivers
  • Unknown future for Lotus as a brand
  • Safety is a concern due to small size and low weight

What's new: The 2011 Lotus Elise received major changes for its last year on the market. A new front end was the biggest, integrating its front lights into one unit for the first time. New wheel designs were also available, as were several special editions - an Elise signature.


The British-built Lotus Elise debuted in the US for the 2005 model year. All Elise models are mid-engine, rear-wheel drive two-seaters, and all featured a six-speed manual transmission. The Elise offered a removable roof, while its Exige stablemate was sold as a track-oriented hardtop, lacking even a rear window.

The Elise used a Toyota-built 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 189 horsepower. An available supercharger increased that figure to 217 horses. While that may not seem like much power, the Elise's paltry 2,000-pound curb weight meant it could reach 60 mph from a stop in around five seconds.

The 2011 Lotus Elise started around $52,000. Opting for the available supercharger added about $3,100 to that figure, while the upscale Roger Becker Edition started around $58,000 and included the Touring and Sport packages as standard equipment. By comparison, the track-focused 2011 Exige started at nearly $66,000.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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