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Lotus Elise S, 2012

Lotus isn’t just a flower, it’s a small British car company founded in 1952 dedicated to making sports cars #ForTheDriver. Lotus has a rich racing heritage, with multiple Formula 1 world titles, although the marque is not currently competing as a manufacturer.

The Lotus you’re looking at is an Elise Series 3. The ‘S’ in the model name stands for supercharged.

The original Elise Series 1 was released in 1995, and this car is an early example of the third and final iteration which ended in 2021. Aside from the looks, there’s a few unusual things about the Elise. It’s mid-engined, for better weight distribution (62%/38% front/rear split), and as with most Lotus vehicles, light weight engineering is a priority so there’s many weight-saving designs such as no power steering, a single windscreen wiper, no electric mirrors, and non-adjustable bucket seats leading to ready-to-drive weight of only 890kg. And of course, it’s a six-speed close-ratio manual. The only electronic aids are ABS, and a basic form of engine traction control, no ESC so it’s a pure driving experience. There’s no automated rev matching, you need to heel’n’toe shift like a proper driver!

Despite the spartan design, this car has cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free with audio (via an aftermarket head unit) and air conditioning. Because it’s very light, the suspension can be relatively soft so it’s not as harsh a ride as you may think. However, getting in and out is only for the agile, and there’s not much space inside! Removing the soft-top roof helps, and then you can store the roof in the boot…but there’s very little room for anything else, and the car doesn’t even have a glovebox.

Like most Lotus cars, this one isn’t a daily driver and is used for track work, Sunday drives and other fun runs. Driving it is a joy – Lotus really does recalibrate what driving is all about, and you need to experience it to believe it. The car is also entirely stock-standard and there’s no plans to modify. Well, the chrome badges were Plastidipped to black and there’s some clear-film paint protection plus a four-point track racing harness, but does that count?

In 2012 this car would have cost you $79,990 plus onroads, and adjusting for inflation, that’s $101,000 in today’s money. The market value of the car is around $80,000 in 2022. Hopefully the car will appreciate in the future, as no more are being made and I feel there will always be a desire for pure, non-electronic sports cars. At least, as long as I have a pulse!


  • Lotus Elise S, 2012
  • 1.8L supercharged 2ZR-FE Toyota-derived engine, 163kW, 250Nm (only revs to 6200rpm!)
  • 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds
  • Top speed 225km/h
  • Rear wheel drive, open differential
  • Forged Lotus wheels with A052 195/50/16 tyres front, 225/45/17 rear (standard tyres are 175s at the front!)
  • 890kg weight, 38% front axle, 62% rear axle
  • 6-speed manual
  • 7.5L/100km fuel consumption, 40L fuel tank
  • Seats two slender and agile people
  • Rear badges plastidipped black
  • Laptimes – 1.36 Winton, 1.50 Phillip Island, 1.05 Broadford, 1.25 Sandown

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