Group Lotus plc (now owned by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group) is offering a rare and race-bred, extreme limited-edition Lotus Elise Cup 260 which is packed with the company’s passion for motorsport engineering into one of the most accomplished cars it has ever produced. Taking what’s widely regarded as the benchmark for intuitive handling and driver involvement, Lotus has integrated some of the latest design philosophies from high-performance stablemates including the Exige Cup 380, and the mighty Evora GT430, as well as building upon the track and competition only Elise Race 250.
Setting a standard for outright track pace and low lap times, this ultimate Elise has been unveiled as the company prepares for the 70th anniversary of the time when founder Colin Chapman built his first car in 1948. Referencing Lotus’ motorsport successes, the new Elise Cup 260 has a laurel wreath decal on the left buttress and the Union Jack on both the rear wing end plates together with the option of finishing the car in iconic Championship Gold.
“Our philosophy for producing extraordinary vehicles is world famous, but the new Elise Cup 260 goes beyond what many believed possible from our smallest car. It is directly developed from the Elise race cars that are competing in series around the world, giving the ultimate Elise experience on the road. More power, motorsport components and the introduction of aerodynamics unheard of in its class make driving this Elise an unrivalled experience,” said Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc.
With its blend of exotic and lightweight materials, the Elise Cup 260 is considerably greater than the sum of its parts.
Building on the production Elise Cup 250 released earlier this year, and drawing heavily on the development the motorsport Elise Race 250, the Elise Cup 260’s performance is formed through a first-class combination of intelligent engineering and advanced aerodynamics as well as a boost in engine performance.
Not only is it the lightest ever Elise Cup, it’s also the heaviest at speed – with the car’s design and aero configuration generating up to 180 kgs of downforce at 240 km/h. Key to this exceptionally high level of downforce are the new louvred front wheel-arch vents, lightweight carbonfibre front splitter and wide high-mounted rear wing.
With a no-holds-barred approach, the Elise Cup 260 includes nearly all of the lightweight Elise Cup options as standard, ranging from the sill covers, roll hoop cover, front access panel and engine cover which are all in carbon to the two-piece brake discs. With a race chassis developed by Lotus Motorsport, two-way adjustable Nitron dampers and fitted to an Elise for the first time, a polycarbonate backlight glass, and hand-trimmed interior with bespoke detailing, the Elise Cup 260 will earn its reputation as the ultimate Elise.
The Elise Cup 260 continues the new model’s visual styling, first introduced on the Elise Sport and Sprint models, but incorporates the aero lessons learnt from Lotus’ latest models, including the Evora GT 430. This includes louvred front wheel arch vents to reduce lift, and a new oversize motorsport-derived rear wing, developed from the Lotus 3-Eleven.
Working with the redesigned lightweight front clam panel, with wider apertures, carbon front splitter and the rear diffuser, these generate the impressive levels of downforce at the car’s top speed, a 44% gain on the already impressive Elise Cup 250, allowing greater grip levels and higher cornering speeds.
The all-alloy, charge-cooled supercharged 1.8-litre engine has undergone development, with new induction components and revised calibration. Delivering 250 bhp/255 Nm, it’s mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox with sports ratios.
The change to the induction system including a race-derived performance air filter and the Elise’s tuned exhaust note means that the Elise Cup 260 retains the crown for best-sounding forced-induction 4-cylinder on the market, it is claimed.
Providing its trademark handling and steering feel, the Elise Cup 260 features fully independent double wishbone suspension with an adjustable front anti-roll bar, Nitron coaxial coil springs and, for the first time on an Elise, adjustable Nitron high-performance dampers. With 24 settings for rebound and compression, the dampers allow owners to perfectly dial-in the car’s setup to their preference.
Braking is provided by AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembo at the rear, which are perfectly matched to the lightweight two-piece brake discs.
The Elise Cup 260’s interior bears testament to the car’s handbuilt nature, with beautifully detailed components. Centre of attention is the detailed, manual gearbox’s open gate mechanism, which is both technically and aesthetically appealing. Developed by Lotus, it provides precise and direct gear changes for quicker shifting.
The finish of Lotus’ in-house manufactured carbon race seats, trimmed in black Alcantara with contrast red or yellow stitching, is echoed by the door panels and face-level vents. Bodywork keyed colour inserts for the sports seats, transmission console and window switches are both complemented by the cabin’s exposed aluminium and carbonfibre elements including a new carbonfibre instrument binnacle cover.
“As we near the 70th anniversary of the inception of Colin Chapman’s engineering legacy, it’s only right that we build the very best cars as special editions, and the Elise Cup 260 is certainly worthy of that accolade. Our special editions have always proved extremely popular with our customers around the world, and we know they value the extensive development work that goes into each one. With just 30 examples to be built, there’s no doubt that the Elise Cup 260 is a future classic,” Mr. Gales said.