The 2015 Lotus Elise S Club Racer is currently the fastest and most powerful Elise you can buy in Australia, and it's purpose built for the track, which is where we're heading today… we've just go to get through the city first.
The Lotus Elise is famous for its agility and supercar-rivalling performance. Unfortunately, it’s also notoriously difficult to get in to. Now, you've got to swing one leg in first, then your bum, then your other leg. Let's see how this goes… Well that wasn't too bad actually. Inside, well, 'basic' is putting it lightly (pardon the pun). There's lots of hard, scratchy plastic surfaces, a four-speaker Alpine stereo, there's no glove box and there's not really an ideal place to put your phone.
There is a plastic cut-out and a cargo net behind the seats but frankly, there's not a lot going on in here. But it's a Lotus, and that's kind of the whole point.
On the driver's right-hand side sitting right next to their knee, the key still sits in an ignition barrel, even though now, there’s an engine start button.
First launched back in 1996, the Lotus Elise has long been respected as a brilliant bit of kit – on track that is. On the road, things are less positive.
It’s stiff, bumpy and very loud in here. Vision out isn’t great and it feels properly small on the road – even city cars feel like SUVs when you’re driving this thing.
The seat is hard and mostly uncomfortable and the only thing heavier than the clutch is the unassisted steering, particularly at low speeds. I just hope we have a bit more fun on the track…
Oh thank god, we are here.
Now, rather than putting a big engine into a heavy chassis, the clever Brits at Lotus have always followed the ideology of 'adding lightness'. That means back here, there’s a 1.8-litre four-cylinder Toyota engine. Supercharged for good measure, it puts out 162kW and 250Nm. There's also room back there for 112 litres of storage space.
All that power gets sent straight to the rear wheels via a ‘proper’ six-speed manual transmission. Now, let’s get out there...
Now, the Lotus Elise has always been a pommy kit car offering supercar performance for less than supercar coin. And while $84,990 is still a fair amount of buck, it is hard to argue with this sort of bang. The little Lotus will do 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds and pretty much anything else you ask it to do.
It is so sharp and so responsive. The engine's punchy and picks up. You can hear the supercharger doing its thing in the back as well.
There's loads of grip, but its still got enough power that you can just have a little bit of fun, get a little bit of angle if you want it, which is always a good thing.
It's not shy of a top speed but those brakes are nice and solid underfoot. And it just sits so flat through the corners. It is an absolute blast this thing.
The Lotus Elise S Club Racer is not the ideal car for families - it doesn't have fold-down rear seats. Well, it doesn't have rear seats at all. It's not the most comfortable or practical thing either. But out here on track, it is in its element, and little of that stuff matters. If everyday track-day excitement is what you're after, then frankly, there are few cars better.