The Series 1 was unable to be produced beyond the 2000 model production year due to new European regulations around crash sustainability, and so Lotus needed a development partner to meet the investment requirement. General Motors offered to partner/fund the project, in return for a badged and GM-engined version of the car for their European brands, Opel and Vauxhall.
Announced on October 9, 2000, the Series 2 Elise was a redesigned Series 1 using a slightly modified version of the Series 1 chassis to meet the new regulations, and the same K-series engine with a brand new Lotus-developed ECU. The design of the body paid homage to the still-born M250 project, and was the first Lotus to be designed on computer.
Both the Series 2 Elise and the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were built on the same production line, in a newer facility at Hethel. Both cars shared many parts, including the chassis, although they have different drive-trains and power-plants. The VX220 carried the Lotus internal model identification Lotus 116, with the code name Skipton for the launch 2.2N/A version and Tornado for the 2004 introduced 2.0 L Turbo. Fitted with 17 inch over the Elise’s 16 inch front wheels, the Vauxhall/Opel version ceased production in 2004.
The Series 2 was also available as a 111S model, with the VVC engine technology producing 160 horsepower (120 kW) . The 111S models were discontinued in 2005 in favour of the Toyota power plant (see below), mainly due to Lotus plans to introduce the Elise to the US market, which needed the engine to comply with the emission regulations in USA, which was not the case for the K-series Engine as MG Rover did not sell cars in the US.
Two more track-focused models, the 135R and Sport 190 were available with 135 bhp (101 kW; 137 PS) and 192 bhp (143 kW; 195 PS) respectively. These also came with associated handling upgrades such as Lotus Sport Suspension and wider wheels with Yokohama Advan A048 tyres. In certain markets, the 135R was replaced by the “Sport 111?, which was similar, apart from sporting the 156 bhp (116 kW; 158 PS) VVC engine in place of the 135 bhp (101 kW; 137 PS) tuned K-series.
111R / Federal Elise
This Series 2 Elise model comes in European 111R version or a version sold in North America, called the Federal Elise. It is powered by the all-aluminium 189 horsepower (141 kW) 1.8 l DOHC Toyota ZZ engine with a Yamaha designed twin-cam head offering variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust valvetrain, and a 6 speed manual Toyota gearbox. The Series 2 model is acclaimed as the best version of the Elise to date, with tremendous performance numbers. Many tests show 0-60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in approximately 4.9 seconds, or 4.7 seconds with the Sport Package. The engine management computer is a Lotus programmed unit.
The 2005 Lotus Elise was the first to be sold commercially in the United States, in the summer of 2004. Approval for the Elise, however, required intervention by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) who provided a three-year exemption for the car, as it had failed to meet US bumper and headlight regulations. All Lotus Elise cars manufactured after January 1, 2007 include the new headlights and 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) bumpers, although they are hidden in the front.
This model has been followed up by the 2006 Model Year Elise 111R and SportRacer models. Lotus made a limited edition (50 in the US) version of the Lotus Elise as well, called the Lotus Sport Elise.
2006 models also differ from the 2005 models in a few aspects. 2006 models sport LED tail lights, drive by wire (an updated ECU), improved fuel consumption, and more comfortable ProBax seats.
For the 2007 model year Lotus there were several further minor changes made. The LOTUS decals on the rear of the vehicle, which was previously flat stickers, was changed to raised lettering. The headlamp units were sealed. Also, in order to comply with US Federally mandated bumper restrictions, the frontal crash structure was slightly changed and rear bumperettes were added next to the licence plate mount. Approximately 100 2007 model year “launch” cars were shipped to the US without these bumper changes. Also in 2007, the Elise S was released and the 111R renamed Elise R.
The Elise S is the new base model with a Toyota sourced 1.8 L engine replacing the previous models K series Rover engine. The 1ZZ-FE engine produces 134 bhp (100 kW; 136 PS) at 6200 rpm (an increase over 120 bhp (89 kW; 122 PS) Rover engine). The inclusion of airbags, ABS brakes, electric windows, and carpet in addition to the new heavier engine has increased the base weight to 860 kg (1,896 lb) (approximately 85 kg (190 lb) higher than the previous S model).
Third generation Elise concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
Its successor, the third generation of Elise, first appeared at the 2010 Paris Motor Show in the autumn of that year, and is set to be launched within the next couple of years.
2008 Lotus Elise R in Western Australia.
For 2008, there were several additions to the Lotus line-up. There are three versions of the Elise. Lotus continued to provide a naturally aspirated Elise producing 189 hp (141 kW). The second version is the Elise SC sporting a non-intercooled supercharger producing 218 hp (163 kW). 0-60 mph is reduced from 4.9 for the base Elise or 4.7 seconds for the Elise with Sport package to 4.3 seconds for the Elise SC. The NA Elise styling is similar to the prior model years. The Elise SC, however, is distinguishable from the NA version by a rear spoiler identical to the Type 72-D edition spoiler and new wheels. Weight remained a Lotus-claimed 1,987 lb (901 kg); just 3 pounds (1.4 kg) more than the previous year. Prior to the release of the 2008 Elise SC, the limited production California Edition arrived at dealerships. A total of fifty California Edition Elises were produced; 25 in Saffron Yellow and 25 in Ardent Red. The interiors of the Cali’s were produced in a light two-tone leather (Biscuit) and the exterior modifications included a silver front grille (a nod to vintage-Ferrari), body-colored shutter grills on the side inlets and engine cover, enhanced 16-spoke wheels, and a large spoiler that covers the upper-rear deck (72-D style). The Cali’s were intended to appeal to “the lifestyle market.”
2008 Lotus elise California Edition in West-Central Alabama.
In Europe, there are three models available; the Elise S with a 134 bhp (100 kW; 136 PS) , 1.8l Toyota 1ZZ-FE engine and 5 speed manual gearbox (0-60 mph in 5.8s, top speed 127 mph (204 km/h)); the Elise R with a 189 bhp (141 kW; 192 PS) , 1.8l Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine and 6 speed manual gearbox (0-60 mph in 4.9s, top speed 148 mph (238 km/h)); and the Elise SC with a 218 bhp (163 kW; 221 PS) , supercharged, 1.8l Toyota 2ZZ-GE, 6 speed manual gearbox and a spoiler (0-60 mph in 4.3s, top speed 150 mph (240 km/h)).
Several new colour options for 2008 were brought to the marketplace. These include new metallic colours (additional $590) Persian Blue and Liquid Blue; new Lifestyle colour (additional $1200) Isotope Green; new Limited Colour Level (additional $3,300) Candy Red, Ice White, and Burnt Orange; and the new Exclusive Colour Level (additional $5,100) Prism Green and Moonstone Silver. The following colours were discontinued for 2008: Nightfall Blue, Aubergine Purple, Magnetic Blue, Polar Blue, Autumn Gold, Chili Red, and Krypton Green.
The Series 2 Exige, comes with the same high revving Toyota engine and six speed gearbox as the Elise 111R, replacing the Rover K-series engine of the previous Exige.The Series 2 Exige has been followed up by the limited-edition Lotus Sport Exige 240R, incorporating a Lotus-developed supercharger atop the Toyota engine. The US Federalized version with the supercharger fitted is known as the Exige S 240.