Named after Elisa, the granddaughter of Lotus's owner at the time, Romano Artioli of Bugatti fame, the Lotus Elise was launched at the Frankfurt Show in 1995. In the subsequent twenty-five years it has not only established itself as the embodiment of what Lotus stands for, it retains a unique place in the international sports car market.
The Elise story is one of steady evolution. The original car, conceptually a true Lotus complying exactly with the mantra ‘performance through light weight’, employed traditional Lotus construction practices, based on a radically innovative extruded aluminum chassis. The Series 1 Elise opened the gates for the Series 2 (S2) model and its principal derivative sibling, the more track-focussed Exige, and the concept matured steadily, with powertrain revisions, styling facelifts and chassis modifications though the next two decades.
No other manufacturer came up with a car to seriously rival the Elise, nor the Exige, in terms of handling dexterity on both road and racetrack, and it aptly characterizes the definition of a sports car.