Lotus Prepares New Elise for U.S. Market

Lotus_Elise

For about eight glorious years, U.S. buyers had the privilege of being able to purchase the lightweight Lotus Elise sports car. The car, fully assembled and ready to take on America’s highways and race tracks, was a hit with buyers thirsty for true driving thrills.

The car first became available in the United States in 2004 and offered a unique combination of speed, efficiency, and striking looks at a reasonable price. The Lotus dream in America lasted until 2011, when the British company had to pull the Elise out of the market due to non-compliant airbags.

Today Lotus is preparing for re-entry into the market with a new Elise and, potentially, an SUV.

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Alternatives to a Used Porsche 911

2003-Porsche-911-Targa

The Porsche 911 is an automotive icon. The car has successfully set a world-class standard for sports cars and has been part of the automotive landscape for much of the past 50 years.

Modern versions of the Porsche 911 offer the latest in engine technology and more performance than all but a few exotic cars.

Most of us grew up wanting one, but our childhood dreams have been squashed by the ever-increasing prices of new and used 911s.

There are two distinct kinds of Porsche 911: air-cooled and water-cooled. The pre-1999 cars were of the air-cooled variety, while everything after is water-cooled. If you think you can save money by opting for something like a 1996 911, think again. Those old air-cooled cars have become valuable classics and can command between $40,000 and $100,000, or even more.

A new 911 will easily set you back $90,000, while late-model used ones aren’t too far behind.

The only affordable options left are the 1999-2004 models, of which the 2002-2004 models are the most desirable. If you want an affordable 911, look there before prices go through the roof.

If, however, you can settle for a car that isn’t a 911 but offers great driving dynamics and a much smaller price tag, keep reading…

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More Geneva: the Lotus Exige S Roadster

Lotus Exige, side view

A few folks have been modifying present Lotus Exige S cars, converting them into soft-tops (see comment by wallabyguy here), but now the factory does it for you. And it has made other alterations to make this a most desirable sports car.

This is part of Lotus’s comeback story. The firm has had lots of ups and downs but has always kept to the “less is more” mantra, and its new cars are finally getting the styling right as well. I think owner Proton (Malaysia) has done well by them.

The Exige S Roadster gives what is basically a track and rally car a little more class and some upgrades in appearance. Worldcarfans called it “an Elise with a bigger engine,” but now it’s better-looking too.

Performance comes from a blown 3.5-liter V6 (345 hp) that moves you to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and 0-100 in 8.5. Top speed is 145 mph. Best is its light weight—about 2,400 pounds. A 6-speed manual is standard; you can order Lotus’s Serial Precision Shift (SPS), with paddles and automated shifting.

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Hey, Dad, Is That a Shelby GT500!?

1967 Ford Mustang GT500

My son is a car kid. He’s obsessed with anything that has four wheels, two doors and a big engine, and well on his way to becoming a bona fide “car guy” in about 10 years.

He sketches better cars at 9 years old than I’ve ever been able to. He’s convinced that he’s going to grow up and design cars for Ferrari someday. Naturally, I encourage that dream the same way I did when he decided he wanted to be a Seattle Seahawks quarterback. For his ninth birthday he wanted a Ferrari cake, which my wife made, from scratch, into a delightfully delicious and near-perfect Prancing Horse confection.

One of his favorite hobbies is looking through the used car listings and searching for elusive supercars.

When we visited my in-laws’ house last week, he’s the one who noticed the Porsche 911 Carrera S parked next door, and spent the next 10 minutes circling it and breathlessly repeating the word “Wow.” He’s also spotted a red Tesla Roadster from a good 50 yards away and screamed “Lotus!” when a bright orange Elise went by in the opposite direction on a rural highway.

My kid knows his cars. Which is why I was so surprised when he came home yesterday, casually asked a car question, and then slumped his little shoulders when I told him the answer.

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