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Lotus Elise




Years Represented: 1998-2004
Host: GT2, GT3, GT4 & GT5

Class: Sports Car
Type: targa/convertible
Country: England

GT4 Prices: 41,060 (base car), 51,680 (111S), 54,410 (111R)
GT5 Prices: 37,600 ('96 Elise) 

I am not sure where some of these specs dimensions came from...Since the GT4 Elise was written up first, chances are this is the one.

Construction: fiberglass composite body, bonded aluminum chassis
Length: 149.0" // Width: 67.7" // Height: 45.0"
Wheelbase: 90.6"
Overhang: 4 feet 10 inches
Track: 57.4" [F] 59.2" [R]
Ground Clearance: @5.5"
Weight: 1,664 pounds ('96 Elise/GT5), 1,547 (base model/GT4), 1,776 (111S), 1,895 (111R)
Wgt Distribution: 40/60 ('96 Elise) 38/62 (base) 39/61 (111S) 37.1/62.9 (111R)

Steering: unassisted rack & pinion
Turns lock to lock: 2.800
Skidpad: 1.0g
Layout: Mid Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: 175/55R-16 [F] 225/45R-16 [R] (225/45ZR-17 on 111R rear)
Brand: Bridgestone Potenza RE040
Suspension: dual wishbones, coils, shox, anti-roll bars
Brakes: vented discs (cross-drilled for the 111-S and higher, but not for base Elise)

Engine: 1.8 liter DOHC inline-4
Construction: aluminum block & head
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: EFi (base) MPFi (S, R, and sport versions)
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.15 x 3.52" (Rover-equipped) 3.23 x 3.35" (Toyota-equipped)
Compression: 11.5:1 (111R)

Transmission: 5 or 6-speed manual
Differential: open

GT4 Final BHP:  126 @ 5,600     155 @ 5,000     199 @ 7,800
GT4 Fnl Torque:
 130 @ 4,500     134 @ 3,500      140 @ 6,800

GT5 '96 Elise Final HP: 117 @ 6,200
GT5 '96 Elise Fnl Torque: 120 @ 3,000    

Credits per HP:    325.87           319.01             273.42
Pounds per HP:    12.49               10.96               9.52
Hp per Liter:         70.1                 90.1                110.8

GT5 Elise Credits / HP: 316.23 credits
GT5 Elise Pounds / HP: 14.22
GT5 Elise HP per Liter: 65.1     

GT4 Elise Idle Speed: 750 // Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000

" " 111S Idle Speed: 1,000 // Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,500

" " 111R Idle Speed: 750 // Redline: 9,000 // RPM Limit: 9,500

GT5 '96 Elise Idle Speed: 800 // Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,500

*testing below for the Elises of GT4

0-60 mph: 6.883 seconds          6.833                6.150
0-100mph: 17.966 seconds       @16.3              13.916
0-150mph: nil                        1:12.860      @ 41 seconds

400 M:   15.485 @ 92 mph    15.209 @ 95    14.543 @ 102 mph
1 Kilo:  27.985 @ 118 mph   27.303 @ 123   25.908 @ 131 mph

Tst Track Lap: No Test             2:34.390          2:23.986
100-zero mph: 4.533 seconds     no test          4.350 seconds

Top Gear RPM at 60 mph:       2,800                     2,500

Top Speed at Redline (base car)
1st: 38 mph
2nd: 65 mph
3rd: 88 mph
4th: 111 mph
5th: 138.90 mph @ 6,750 rpm

Top Speed at Redline (111S)
1st: 38 mph
2nd: 69 mph
3rd: 100  mph
4th: 127 mph
5th: 153.10 mph @ 7,000 rpm

Top Speed at Redline (111R)
1st: 47 mph
2nd: 70 mph
3rd: 98 mph
4th: 126 mph
5th: 160 mph @ 9,000 rpms (never redlined in this gear)
6th: 161.99 mph @ 8,150 rpm

*testing below for the '96 Elise of GT5

0-60 mph: 7.653 seconds 
0-100mph: 19.893
0-150mph: Nil
400 M: 15.892 @ 90 mph    
1 Kilo: 28.731 @ 115 mph
1 Mile: 39.908 @ 127 mph  

Test Track X Lap: N/A. I did two whole laps, forgot to record the time.
100-zero mph: 4.663 

Top Gear RPM at 60 mph: 2,500       

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 37 mph
2nd: 66.8 mph
3rd: 94.0 mph
4th: 120.2 mph
5th: 146.6 mph @ 6,300 rpm

A 1998 Elise Sport 190 (S1)

Elise Motorsport (S1)

'00 Elise (S2)

2003 Elise 111R (S2)

----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY----------------

Today starts what will no doubt become a monumental review of a GT Car Review: the Lotus Elise.

There are several different versions in all GT games except GT1 (which has no English cars other than TVRs and Astons) and GT3 (which only has one type of Elise). Each version does happen to boast different visual cues, weights, and (unlike the mid-engine NSX) significant jumps in horsepower for different models, even for various models that are stock. This can leave the average impulse-buying driver who wants to explore or simpy buy an Elise on-the-spot feeling a bit overwhelmed, perhaps. Hopefully, this review will be a guide to help us find the right one for the job.

In GT2, we have six of these to choose from: a base Elise, the 111-S, the Sport 135, Sport 190, the Elise Motorsport, and the million dollar Elise GT1. GT3 leaves us (no surprise) with just the 190.

GT4 starts us off with a new generation of cars. Once again, we have the 120 horsepower base Elise, although it is from the 2nd generation (S2) rather than the first. We also have a couple other S2s: the 111-S and 111-R. In addition, we can also find an earlier S1s like the 1998 Sport 190 just like we had in GT2 and GT3, plus the racing-equipped Motorsport Elise found in GT2. Both of these can be found from the late-90s used car lot occasionally.

Finally, there is the Type 72, which can be won as a prize from the Elise Trophy. In real-life, this car celebrated Lotus's 50th year of production. The number "72" denoted car #72, which was a famous racer back in the day. Other than some commemorative decals on the car and slightly different paint, there is no mechanical difference between a Type 72 and base Elise.

There was also a Type 49 in real-life, tho it does not appear in GT4 or any game. Phew, that's still a total of six Elises in this game, and six in GT2! Who says the Japanese are the only ones with too many versions of the same make & model in GT?
Unfortunately, I've only started driving and racing Elises in GT4 recently. I never got round to even touching one in GT2 or GT3, which is making me feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment, because it means I'm wanting to compare each one from game to game. Overwhelmed, but at the same time, eager. This is a car many of us are eager to drive, no doubt. Its reputation precedes it. Let's learn, eh?

The Elise was named after Lotus chairman's granddaughter Elisa. One hell of an ego boost for her on a daily basis, what do you think? How many of us can proudly say "well, I had an entire line of cars named after me?" 

...Or is she even proud of such a gift? Is she indifferent about it? Or embarassed? Sorry, my curiosity peaks on this one. Wikipedia nor any other info sites provide a link to her, so perhaps we'll never have an answer. I even googled "Elisa Artioli" (I haven't yet found a website that lists her last name, so I used her grandfather's last name). Nothing but vague sites featuring Lotus cars, a 50ish year-old looking cancer researcher with the name "Elisa Artioli", and a dumb Facebook webpage showed after the search; but the creator of the Facebook page is too old, obviously not the Elisa I was looking for. Well, nobody can accuse me of not trying to dig up the dirt.  

Ahem. The Elise was first shown at an autoshow in Frankfurt in 1995, and production started shortly thereafter in 1996. So far, there have been two generations of Elise (Series 1 and Series 2). Series 1 cars are featured in GT2 and GT3, while GT4 has strictly Series 2s in its new car lot. GT5 includes a couple Premium-level models; the '96 Elise from S1 and the '04 111R, which is Series 2.

The '98 Sport 190 (S1) can be found as a used car, and the racy Motor Sport can be found at the dealer in Lotus's Classic lot. The S2 has a more radical look with its elongated headlamps and turn-signal lamps, rather than the cutesy S1s with their rounded ones. S2s also have a wider grille than S1s, with small flares on each side, like a smiling, dimpled devil. Comparing the door area of an S1 to an S2, we can see that (again) the S2 has deeper, more schizoid-looking concave flares that start at the doors and cut way back into the rear fenders. 

Other than these differences, the S2 resembles the S1 in dimensions and general shape, since the S2 is based heavily on its former design.

As I was saying earlier, there are differences from model to model. I'm not going into details..there's just too many variations to list and I don't wanna bore anybody. ...Awww, screw it. Here goes. :) Keep in mind that real-life Elises may have differences not found below. I'm only going by what I see in the games.

Base Elise: 6-spoke wheels (S1 or S2). Front fenders are bare except for a small side-marker lamp. Roof and bodyshell same color.

Sport 135 and Sport 190: 8-spoke wheels (S1 or S2).

8-spoke wheels. Front fender has a small badge near the side-marker lamp. Roof and bodyshell same color.

111R: 8-spoke wheels. Front fender has a small badge. Roof is black, while bodyshell can be a different color. Radio antenna is missing from the roof, even though the real-life 111R does have an extensive sound system.

Type 72: Again, a black roof, but there is a radio antenna in place. The front fender has a larger badge signifying something important. Something to do with Lotus being a 50 year-old carmaker. This car is GT4-only.

Motor Sport: No fog lights in grille area. Rear window area is elongated like a fastback, with a series of slots. A large wing is in place on the rear (all other cars have a small spoiler but no true wing).

Elise GT1: Gran Tusismo 2 only. :-( Can be had in any color, so long as it's black. Super-low and racy, with a trunk wing and modifyable downforce. Despite a lack of racing decals or other such paraphernalia, the GT1 can go head-to-head against actual FIA, DTM, and JGTC types.

So obviously, only the Motor Sport and GT1 boast a radically different look that seperates them from all these other models at first glance, but somebody in the know can eventually tell one model from the next just by looking at them.

There are also large differences in weight, anywhere from 1,477 pounds for a S1-era Sport 190 to 1,895 pounds for an S2-era 111R. Obviously, all of these Elises are super-light cars. Colin Chapman's original goal (lightweight, racy cars for a low price) when first starting Lotus way back when is still in place, for the most part. All except the price part, since we consider that anywhere from $39,250 (S1-era base Elise in GT2) to $97,180 (S1-era Motor Sport in GT4) the Elise is rather pricey.

I just bought the Premium-level '96 Elise in GT5 as well. Here this base car is slightly cheaper, with a cost of just over 37,000 credits. After this purchase, not only did I get a glimpse at what I just paid for, but also what I didn't pay for.

Check out those doors, for instance. Power windows are apparently not included! -- Instead there are genuine old-fashioned roll-down devices for those who want some air. The dash cluster is not some space-age display of lights and meters; again, the term 'old-fashioned' comes to mind. White background/red needles, with the tach and speedo prominently displayed for at-a-glance readouts.

There's also nothing flashy going on in the console department. This era of car-making was pretty much the end of no-frills center areas; the whole GPS/nav-screen phenomenon hadn't taken over just yet. Only the most expensive of cars from that age: mid-90s BMWs and Cadillacs and Audis, had become more cluttered in their attempts to constantly grab our attention for useless data, auto-climate controls, and handsome, multi-folding cup holders.

Yet it's notable how it seems Lotus wasn't even trying to be gaudy or demanding in this regard. We've got a couple of air vents, what looks to be a rather lowbrow radio, perhaps a cheap set of sliders to mix hot, cold, and fan strength. No CD player. Perhaps not even air-conditioning.

 We're paying what seems to be a small fortune for this car, or at least something most up-and-coming drivers will have to budget in, yet we've got an interior which might've gotten trumped by a mid-level Vauxhall. And why is this? Well we're about to find out!  

Whatever the driver's just paid, it'll be worth those credits in the long run. Oh yeah. Compared to many other exotic-type automobiles (which cost $100,000 on up), the Elise is actually a bargain.  

The Elise Motor Sport

------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------

There may be differences in all those models we just discussed, but from car to car, one thing they all share is their famous 1.8 liter dual-overhead cam 4-cylinder engine. S1 cars and some S2s had a Rover K-series engine, while the latest S2s have a Toyota engine. I think (but I'm not entirely sure) that all cars in our game are Rover-equipped except the 111R of GT4. You'll notice the 111R features a much higher redline than the tachometers of others, and in real-life, Lotus installed high-rpm Celica engines into some of their later S2s.

 The weakest 120-horsepower base Elises (and the Type 72) have engines that feature no trickery, while the stronger 111S, 111R, Sport, and Motor Sport cars all have variable valve timing of some sort to help them achieve higher horsepower. The only difference is: Rover engines feature VVC (just like the MGF engine does), while the Toyota ones feature VVTL-i.

In most situations (real life or in the game) any of these motors could be simply passed off as underpowered; but when placed in the Elise chassis, which weighs several hundred pounds less than a ton, these motors feel right at home. Even the lowest 120 and 135-horsepower engines can help us do some major damage to cars possessing up to 200-300 horses more than the Elise, simply because the Elise weighs so much less than the majority of others we'll need to face. The Elises (any of them) are therefore deadly machines to race in or against. The mid-engine layout also guarantees major traction and a lack of wheelspin, even when the highest of turbos is in place. In general, power will never be ultimate in any of these, but both NA and turbo kits can be had.

Still, there are issues. It's impossible to get much torque from a 1.8 liter anything without a turbo, therefore straight-line acceleration is lacking while the Elise is near-stock, or anywhere below 200 hp. That's really the only major issue, since this car does so well when cornering for the most part. Some Elises, once they have heavy upgrades in place (especially turbos), haven't got much redline area. Not a huge issue since Lotus made sure there is plenty of tachometer space to exploit before redline. I believe peak power always shows up before redline in these motors from game to game, which means (as I said) you'll rarely need to redline these anyways. The base S2 car in GT4 has a 6,500 rpm redline, while the top-notch 111R redlines at 9,000! In this car (the 111R), those revs just keep piling up like our federal deficit, as it races around...it seems you'll never run out of revs in this car.

Most of these cars have 5-speed transmissions, but some later S2s have 6-speeds. In all cases, the gearing is kept close without being too close, which means plenty of gear-shifting is in your Elise-future, but not so much that you'll absolutely need racing gears 100% of the time. Once really going for full-power though, racing gears will become a necessity for some of these (especially 5-speed models), as some Elises haven't got enough ceiling before they're annoyingly hitting their RPM limiters in 5th down a long straight.

So far as traction goes, these mid-engine cars typically have it in droves, yet they possess plenty of flexibility as well. Limited-slip devices become necessary quicker in GT2 to keep these cars from becoming too "swivelly", but in GT4, these devices are pretty much optional unless you're needing to be running super-fast at a track that makes the Elise too unstable (Grand Valley, Route 246, etc). I've found the 1-way, 1.5, and 2-way devices can be useful for lower-powered racing...they don't introduce too much understeer (but keep in mind they do add some) or kill this car's amazing flexibility. But they aren't necessary till we're nearly flying around some tracks, gritting teeth and gripping that dual-shock or wheel, knuckles whitened with pain.

Oh, one last thing...the sound. Even while totally stock, these cars (especially in GT4) sound great. With sports, semi-racing, or full-racing exhausts, the Elise's distinguished purr becomes raspier, or throatier, or just generally louder. It all sounds good, though. My only criticism here is (once again) the Elise aftermarket soundbyte is shared by other cars with small, four-cylinder engines, which takes some uniqueness away once you've done too many races in various cars like I have.

-------------CHASSIS / HANDLING----------

Most of you reading this will be expecting a glowing review in this section, since I consider the Elise one of the only sports cars of our modern world that hasn't been compromised heavily with unnecessary gadgets many other "sports" cars have been burdened with, and you'd be right for the most part. I really only have two complaints with this car as depicted in Gran Turismo. They won't take much time.

1). The Elise has a real-life habit of raising its inner-front wheel under hard cornering. This never happens in any GT games, and it should. If PD doesn't model this behavior for GT5, I'll cry.

2). I really don't believe the Elise's brakes are represented very well, either. Long brake times (and therefore braking distances...see the testing results above in the SPEX section) will be felt once you're driving an Elise at the tracks, which means you must brake early in this car, like 80% of the time. Otherwise, sideways skating, oversteer / fishtailing, and sometimes even understeer begin to make things somewhat miserable, unless you're prepared and can take advantage of these situations.

From what I've read about this car in magazines, its brakes are supposed to be fantastic (who would expect anything less from a world-wide exotic car-maker), and I believe they are being mis-represented in GT2 and 4.

Interestingly, the Elise I tested in GT5 stopped from 100 mph down to zero does so in less time than average. Many cars in this game, even other sports models, can't do this in less than 5 seconds; while the Elise boasts 100 to 0 in just over 4.6. 

 Perhaps this is because all Gran Turismo cars before the PS3 generation have a failsafe ABS system installed, even if the real-life car hasn't got one...the Elise is one such vehicle that didn't get ABS brakes till recently (recently being 2003) as an option, not as standard.

In my research, I've found that out of all the Elises in our games, only the 111R has ABS brakes in real-life, yet I believe Lotus configured the system on the real-life car so that it doesn't interfere with normal braking until absolutely necessary. In GT, we can mash these brakes while driving in a straight line without a care. True, there's no sliding or wheel-lockups a braking system without ABS can invoke, but in our game, we also cannot employ any of the proper braking modulation a real-life driver can do, which would help shorten brake distances.

Okay, that's it. That's all my complaints. The rest of this chapter shall be good.

In an effort to get to know the Elise as represented in GT2, I did finally drive one around a bit in this game, but haven't raced them extensively. But let's just say I got a nice feel for this car as I drove it around Tahiti, S.S. Route 5, and Autumn Ring.

Since the Elise made its debut in this game, we don't have a "slot carish" version to try, as the Elise doesn't appear in GT1. I think if it did appear in GT1, what we would have might be similar to a lower-powered NSX, with a gallopy (but highly unrealistic) ride. In GT2 (as in all GT games), this car is fun and playful; and invites us to keep exploring its many behaviors.

I can't really put into words all the possibilities this car is capable of (even in GT2), nor some of the emotions you'll feel as you out-smart many other cars with over 2 or 3x your power. The Elise in this game feels as deft and slick as a fast-talking con-artist who knows how to slip out of most any situation. This assumes the driver is skilled, of course, and can keep away from spins and other assorted accidents.

There are many small mid-engine cars in this game (GT2), and though some drivers may find the Elise taciturn and difficult with its swively habits, and may choose not to race them, the Elise (any of the versions) feels alot more comfortable with speed/handling trickery than other MR cars in this game including: Toyota MR2s and MR Spyders, Plymouth's PT Spyder, the MGF, Venturis (when stock), Renault Clio Sport, Lancia Stratos, and Lotus's first mid-engine auto, the Europa. 

For one thing, the Elise is lighter than all the cars just mentioned. But that's not all. Its suspension has been massively race-proven, and is therefore is race-worthy from the day it's bought. Only such MR autos as the Tommykaira ZZ-1, NSX, Nissan R390 road car, Vectors, Tom's Angel, and some other Lotuses like the Esprit feel as equal or more confident than the Elise...but do they feel as playful? Have they got the Elise's lack of pounds? Certainly not (except for the ZZ-1 and Angel, of course).

This doesn't mean all drivers will find the Elise perfect, though. This is not a car for everyone, and "perfect" is really a bad word to describe the Elise, anyways. "Capable", "eager", "pushable", and other such words are more suited here, as well as "difficult", "slippery", and "too compromising" on the bad side. So some drivers may find the Elise to be not such a great driving experience in this game.

Mostly, it's got a habit of oversteer. Being a light-weight mid-engine car, it loves a good slide! This isn't the type of oversteer that shows up because the car has lots of body-sway or devilish torque that causes a lack of traction--in fact, just the opposite is at work here. Just as described in real-life, the car in GT2 feels extremely gymnastic and flexible. It slides easily...yes...but it generally keeps all 4 wheels connected to the road while doing so. And some drivers won't be able to handle such a car.

..But of course, some drivers will dig this car! No doubt.

The Elise is like a jar of salsa...its habit of getting sideways with entry-corner oversteer, and then maintaining such slides, can be tasted in many flavors: anywhere from "mild" to "extra spicy", according to just how you'd like to dip that chip. :-) This car seems to delight in and even require such behavior at times. Driving the Elise in a pure "out-in-out" style, employing full grip with none of this sliding nonsense (as the Ai drives it) can also be done...

...but then, you'd be missing out on what this baby is really wanting to do! 

So I haven't gotten round to driving an Elise in GT3, but I don't think it matters much. For one thing, the Elise as it appears in GT4 isn't much different from the way it feels in GT2. This is one of the few cars that doesn't feel as drastically different from one game to the next as some others.

Everything discussed for the GT2 car (its habit of sliding, oversteer, tossability, etc) is also true in the 4th game. The main difference is GT4 features more understeer, and the Elise is not exempt from this as it mostly was in GT2. The good news? There thankfully isn't too much understeer...most of the time it's encountered, it'll be mild or minimal. But...it is here, and it can show up anywhere in a curve: from entry to exit, so pay attention.

As mentioned before, the Elise's brakes must be pounced early for the most part. There are a few times when you can brake late and get some nice trail-braking action, but mostly, this car's brakes suffer in this game as they did in GT2, and you'll need to start early. If not...there's a choice of understeer (if you're trying to preserve your racing line), or sideways skating (if you just wanna throw all caution to the wind, crank the steering fully, get a full slide, and hope the car doesn't slam a wall!).
As pretzel-like as this car is in GT and in real-life, it really seems odd that the Elise's main achilley's heel in our games are its brakes...which are cross-drilled vented rotors in any version other than the base 120-horsepower car. It just doesn't make sense. Well, as I said earlier, perhaps it's PD's habit of installing a rudimentary ABS system on all cars in our games. But let's talk further, please....

Once we get those brakes down, everything else feels great for the most part, just as Colin would like them to be. As in GT2, there are many moments and many behaviors to explore in a GT4 Elise. I feel almost lame trying to describe some of them, so here's my attempt at some bad poetry to shed some light. *ahem*

...Brake in early (while turning).

The car grips in perfectly to a good line you can almost draw with a compass.

A bit of understeer now, so let off those brakes.

Now it

dangit..sorry..I suck at poetry. Here, I'll start over!

Brake in early while steering...the car now understeers lightly, so let off those brakes. As a tad of lift-off oversteer shows, I downshift into a lower gear, which induces a bit of sliding that only puts a smile on my face. Otherwise, the front-end is now gripping into a racing-line that I swear I could almost draw on the track if I had a virtual (and very large) compass.

...kick on the gas fully (while still turning). It won't matter! The engine's lack of torque is actually a bonus here...no power gets wasted by a loss of traction. As the Elise leaves that corner, sometimes slight understeer makes a re-appearance, which is okay. To get rid of it, all it takes is to let off the throttle again. Just a blip. Otherwise...we're off!

I just described a snippet of delicious driving time behind the wheel. DO NOT take the words above as what you'll find all the time in an Elise. There are so many varieties to experience, so many stories that can be told about this car, it is (as I said) almsot lame to try to put them all into words. So we'll leave it at that.

Only when really pushing an Elise for high speeds does its extreme flexibility begin to betray, especially over bumpy areas. This isn't the most stable car in the world, after all. Keeping it going in the desired direction at such a track like El Capitan, Nurburgring, and Le Mans can take mad skillz. Now all a sudden, you will need a limited-slip, as well as careful suspension tuning.

One last quick note. Only recently (as I mentioned before) has Lotus included an option for ABS to some customers. Apparently, real-life Elise cravers can also buy a limited-slip, nowadays, also as an option. We can do this too, but mostly, it'll be a bad decision. This car is at its happiest when being twisted around like a pretzel. Only at the highest levels of racing (Grand Valley 300KM, for instance) will such a device become necessary to limit this car's habit of really getting sideways (in a bad way), especially under braking.

But what a fun car, otherwise, huh? The Ai almost always kicks ass when it drives Elises in our games, now we know why.

Drove the Premium-level '96 Elise for this game's Grand Valley endurance race, and really "drove" is not exactly an apt word to describe what it's like. "Piloted" is more like it. Because an Elise in this situation, at this track, really can feel like piloting a small-engine Cessna at times, especially as the track curves and whoa, there's that incline.

It's not just slip versus grip we must contend with; at times we must also consider the effects of lift and gravity, as well.  

Well, let's start from the beginning, actually. On the car's original soft comfort tires and with original power, already the Elise feels just as sporting as it was in earlier games, maybe more so. Rolling down Grand Valley's main straight takes a long time, for those who've been rolling around in faster rides toward the end of the Extreme Series. So, to go from a 500 to 700-powered monster in the Dream Car Championship to the 129 bhp Elise, well that's taking many steps down in the speed department.  

It's the curves which make all the difference, of course. Even with this lowish power, it's obvious and evident how much the Elise still loves those twisty bits, even if the driver doesn't!  Understeer? That's still very minimal, almost non-existent. The car still has a habit of swinging its tail around; still displays that "mild to extra spicy" chip scenario from the earlier games (and real-life, no doubt).

Fully-powered, driving the Elise demands a different style from driving a BMW, a Subaru, even some other light mid-engine cars.   

Steering is always light in many a turn for instance, only during the tightest city-type corners might a driver need to go for full lock.
Braking is basically as excellent as can be. Braking too late in an Elise, in THIS game, does not necessarily mean a sand trap is in your near future. It seems there's always a way to outsmart our own foibles behind the wheel, as oftentimes a grand, embarrassing slide can be enough to keep the car out of mayhem.  
Braking is still a bit below-par when compared to some other sports cars on the market, yet most of the time I barely notice this. Because the Elise is so good a pretzeling its way INTO those turns, allowing me to carve my way in. Like all the sudden I'm a world-class surgeon performing an appendectomy on the fly, perfecting that entry line in as many ways as it seems automotively possible. Not only is understeer a rarity, the Elise is also pretty good at avoiding some mid-engine cars' habit of excessive grabbing, as well. And it all begins with confidence with those brakes.

Brakes... steering ... cornering ... fuel, it's these four factors which present challenges and annoyances while racing any sort of car, yet in an Elise the driver can delight in mixing and blending these factors in what seems to be a never-ending quest for that perfect experience. Exploring nuances of driving behavior which heretofore seem untouched when compared to others on the roads, even other sports cars.

It's as if the driver is a talented painter, okay? He or she's been given a canvas, a selection of paints & brushes, let's see what can be done. Want to go for a conservative Vermeer-styled classic landscape, safe, yet dashing and colorful?  Or would we like to see a messy, distracting Picasso?  Or... perhaps the driver would like to go somewhere in between? A bold yet slightly insane Van Gogh, perhaps?  All of these are possible; any style can be done. That is the way of the Lotus Elise, folks.   

See, look at that. Here's me, comparing a sports car to art. To tortilla chips, and fricking poetry?? Why? Well, for those who've never tried this sly British lightweight, they'll just have to drive it to find out.              



1). One of the last true sports cars around, uncompromised by traction controls, stability devices, and (in real-life) power steering, and ABS brakes. The Elise appears in all GTs except GT1. I'm sure Polyphony Digital did all they could to try and get the Elise into the first game, it's such a kick-ass car.

2). Great looking, even in GT2. GT4 features both S1 and S2 generation Elises as used, new, and prize cars.

3). Many colors to buy one. What's your fancy? Lotus can provide.

4). Many versions to play with too, in all games except GT3. Somehow, it doesn't feel like too many, though.

5). Light weight, always. 

6). A race-proven and race-worthy suspension. Some Elises can achieve a higher-than-usual ride height, which can be lowered with aftermarket parts.

7). Fun. Fun fun fun fun.

8). The Rover 4-cylinder appears as tepid as can be (in the base 120 hp car) or mildly powerful (in the 190 hp Sport 190), yet in all versions, it provides, never feels truely as weak as it is. 

9). Many upgrades can be had (turbo and natural power).

10). Handles as great in the games as described by real-life drivers. Steering and a front-end that generally locks into its target like a vice grip, combined with a rear that has the traction....uh...of a vice grip.

11). Great sounding engine, even when stock. Aftermarket exhausts don't ruin this, although in GT2 we eventually have too much turbo hiss from spooled motors.

12). All GT2 cars get racing kits. GT2 also features the mighty Elise GT1, which can demolish any race this game has to offer except rallies.

13). GT4 & 5: gas mileage of a Tercel.

14). The surprise factor. Those who drive an Elise may think they know this car inside and out...but they never truly will. Like an unpredictable lover who keeps us guessing...you might fall in love with the Elise for reasons other than stability.


1). The price. Let's start there. The real-life Elise is actually a bargain for an exotic sports car, since S1 and early S2 cars in our games aren't loaded with unnecessary items like heated, fully adjustable seats, electronic suspension controls, etc. Yet, the Elise (let's be honest) is still a pricey car.

2). Not everyone may dig its wanton driving characteristics. Not a car for novice drivers or even some intermediates.

3). Easily upset by bumps in some situations. In GT2, these cars also are heavily prone to spins at banked tracks.

4). The base Elise in GT2 winds up with the most power when fully modified, which is "just" 262 horses. Those who want more will need to buy the pricey Motor Sport, or the super-expensive (million credit) Elise GT1. In GT4, Elises can be pushed higher, however there isn't much final difference between a fully-powered base car and a fully-powered 111R (@285 to 325 bhp).

5). Short gears in some 5-speed cars...revs max out too early sometimes. For long straights, some situations will demand a full-racing transmission just to get more top-end.

6). Braking ability feels compromised in our games (already went into this in detail).

7). As fun as the Elise is when low-powered, eventually its best traits can become a curse once we're really pushing near its fullest capacities, especially near full power. Limited-slip and careful suspension tuning & driving required at these times.

8). GT4 mostly: understeer does show up. Even the Ai suffers, as occasionally we'll see a sim Elise get way outside its best racing line with exit-corner understeer, and then mow some grass.

9). Great traction down-low, but poor straight-line acceleration.

10). GT5: cramped interior, with both sideview mirrors completely off-screen.  

Published: November 24, 2008
GT5 content added: August 19, 2023