Exactly 50 years ago, in 1966, the Vietnam War worsened, Star Trek aired its first episode and the first-generation Toyota Corolla was introduced. In the same year, the late Colin Chapman opened the doors to his car manufacturing facility in Hethel, Norfolk, marking the new era of Lotus Cars.
The Lotus Elise, widely labelled as a road-legal go kart, was never considered a proper race car and always lived in the shadow of the Exige. Well, not anymore, because the Lotus Elise Race 250 is out to change all that. It’s also a beautiful way to celebrate 50 years of crafting great cars in Hethel, no?
So, what’s new? Apart from being the most track-focused Elise, Lotus claims that this Elise can participate in many race series around the world. As a true track car hero, it receives full aero package, including front splitter, rear diffuser, floor extensions and a rear wing for added downforce.
Rollcage, removable steering wheel, fire extinguisher and harness bar are all part and parcel of a race car, and the Elise Race 250 features all that. Being a lightweight specialist, all items deemed unnecessary are removed or replaced. For instance, the front headlamps are replaced with lightweight composite blanking panels, the rear windscreen gets a lighter polycarbonate version, and a lighter lithium ion battery is used. If you decide to opt for the Carbon Aero Pack, the car will still weigh just 900kg!
Powering this beast is the same Toyota-sourced motor shared with the Elise Cup 250; a 1.8-litre four cylinder engine strapped to a supercharger that pushes out 243 hp and 250 Nm of torque. Being an all-purpose track car, a six-speed manual gearbox is used here, channeling drive to the rear wheels. No top speed and acceleration figures were revealed, but it’s definitely the hottest Elise ever made. Why? Because it lapped the Hethel test track in 1 minute 33.5 seconds. The Elise Cup 250 managed just 0.5 seconds slower.
To the folks at Hethel, power isn’t everything because Lotus cars slice through corners. To complement the extra grunt, this Elise comes with adjustable anti-roll bar, Nitron adjustable dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs. Brakes are supplied by AP Racing; a twin-piston front callipers and Brembo single-piston for the rear. It comes with an ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels shod with Yokohama AO48 rubbers.
The Lotus Elise Race 250 is not exactly cheap, at £53,500 (approximately RM286k). But compare that to some of the other race-ready machines in the UK, those typically command a six-figure price. Now, we wonder, will the Elise Race 250 ever reach Malaysian shores?