2001 Lotus Elise S2 1.8


A surprisingly practical grin-inducing machine. Wondrous


Battery went flat and jump-starting it caused the alarm/immobiliser to blow up, requiring replacement at ~600GBP.

One of the coil packs packed up, causing erratic idle and misfire, requiring replacement plus new spark plugs total cost ~150GBP.

Roof leaks slightly on passenger side when left standing in heavy rain, quite livable with.

General Comments:

You know those double-bend road warning signs? They may as well just have a picture of me grinning instead. My Elise is brilliant for all the reasons you'd expect. I've had it for three years now, and every time I get in, I still smile. I still look back when I lock up and walk away.

I was completely sold five minutes into my first test drive of one, on a fast B-road. It's all about the steering feel rather than the absolute straight-line pace, and the whole car just feels like a special place to be.

I replaced the Bridgestone tyres it came with with Yokohama Advan Neovas and the handling got even better (although that may well just be because the existing fronts were rather old and hard). I'd also recommend a more aggressive geo set-up to dial out some of the understeer Lotus instilled S2s with at the factory.

On to the practicalities: The seats are surprisingly comfortable on long journeys (e.g. down to the south of France) even though I'm 6'2", although the combination of fidgety steering and a sports exhaust mean it's a bit more tiring to drive long distances than a Mondeo - you can't really talk at length with your passenger comfortably above about 55 mph in mine.

There's more space in the boot than you might expect due to the space behind the wheel-arches and the depth (room for luggage for two for a week, a case of wine, and the roof). Pack smaller squishy bags rather than attempt to fit in suitcases and you'll be fine. I actually think it's pretty practical, considering.

In three years I've had about a thousand pounds worth of things go wrong with it (I feel like I've been slightly unlucky compared to other owners I've talked with).

It's a pain if don't have off-street parking, too - the thing is so low that people endlessly scrape it when they're parking (parking sensors on other cars are often too high to see the nose). Fixing damaged fibreglass clamshells is very expensive, due to the labour involved. That causes me anguish; I park it a fair distance away from the house where fewer people crash into it.

I'm also childishly amused by the look that people in BMW Z4s often give me in petrol stations. It's like they just realised that they bought the wrong car or something. :)

Own one if you can.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th March, 2009