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Geneva show: Even lighter Elise surfaces

Blue light: Lotus Elise Club Racer sheds weight over standard model and will be shown at Geneva.

Lightest Lotus loses a further 25kg for the Geneva catwalk but Oz future uncertain

21 Feb 2011

LOTUS has cut even more kilos from its already-lithe Elise to create yet another Club Racer (CR) special that will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show early next month.

The CR may take over locally from last year’s $72,990 version, but the Lotus franchise in Australia – currently held by Proton Cars Australia – is expected to switch to Ateco Automotive from about April, so the car’s local future is uncertain.

Given the green light by Ateco, the CR may follow Europe’s lead and become the entry-level Elise, meaning that it would take over from the existing $69,990 Elise.

Weight-saving measures include replacing the retractable soft-top with a so-called shower cape (saving 5.9kg), replacing the regular battery with a lightweight motorsport item (5.4kg), deleting noise insulation and carpets (4.5kg), driver and passenger airbags (4kg), radio and speaker system (4kg), mud flaps (600 grams), central locking (300g) and a passenger footrest (200g).

Even the regular Lotus badges have been replaced by decals, saving 60g.

57 center imageThat would bring the most hardcore European-spec model in at just 851kg – 25kg less than the standard Elise.

Most of the missing items can be reinstated at factory level as part of a Comfort pack, but the Touring Pack available on other Elises – which includes leather upholstery, padded door inserts and console, more noise insulation, cruise control, a cupholder and MP3 connector – cannot be ordered on the CR.

The Elise CR also features a higher-threshold traction control system known as DPM (Dynamic Performance Management), ‘Lotus finely tuned sport suspension’ and an adjustable anti-roll bar for ‘race track fun’.

Unlike the MY10 version, which was still powered by the Toyota-sourced 141kW/181Nm 1.8-litre 1ZR engine, the latest CR gets the less powerful 1.6-litre 1ZR-FAE four-cylinder fitted to the base Elise since the middle of last year.

Linked to a six-speed gearbox instead of the previous five-speed unit, the new engine employs Lotus’s Valvematic variable valve-lift mechanism combined with Toyota’s dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) system.

With the CR’s maximum power and torque outputs rising slightly to 104kW at 6800rpm and 165Nm at 4500rpm, the improved power-to-weight ratio means the 0-100km/h sprint time should improve slightly, but Lotus still quotes the same 6.5 seconds as the standard Elise.

Official environmental figures are also unchanged, with the EU combined fuel consumption figure of 6.3 litres per 100km and the carbon dioxide emissions rating of 149 grams per kilometre.

As before, the suspension components are partly supplied by Eibach (coil springs) and Bilstein (dampers), while the 12-spoke lightweight alloy wheels are black rather than silver.

In Europe, the CR is promoted as providing “maximum fun without so much of the green-guilt usually associated with high performance driving”.

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