Fun little sports car. Very stylish, utterly impractical and huge fun to drive. K series engine from Rover 25 / 45 / 75 delivers excellent initial acceleration, but the likes of Civic Type R's and Clio 172's outpace it beyond 80 mph.
I liked the utterly gorgeous minimalist interior with its neat Stack dials and acres of bare aluminium. Even the Vauxhall indicator stalks and locks didn't spoil the ambiance. It was also surprisingly comfortable with supportive seats, and plenty of room for 6 footers. It was much more comfortable and usable than my previous Caterham.
The car was an absolute nightmare to get in and out of with the roof up. You have to squeeze through an opening about 18 inches high and across a high sill of about 12 inches. Don't get out of it for the first time on a crowded petrol station forecourt like I did. I suspect the CCTV footage was priceless! Gets easier with practice.
Utterly stupid roof. Comes in four parts and by the time you assemble the thing and fart around with the silly little allen key on the C pillars to tension it, you're soaked and so is the interior. Not that it keeps all the rain out anyway, but I can't say that really bothered me to be honest. You can get about two bags of groceries in the "boot" (unless the roof's in there), although the heat from the engine will cook the sausages by the time you get home.
Surprisingly reliable. K-series lump never missed a beat - just lost a gear linkage and obviously had a fuel tank / fuel line fault which the dealer couldn't find or sort. It leaked too, but hey it's a British sports car. Utterly astonishing fuel economy. Don't think I ever got it much below 40 mpg.
Came to this car from a Caterham 7 HPC which was just as impractical. It was however quicker (another 62 bhp), lighter and easier to throw around. The Elise has very high limits, but its mid engine configuration, high grip and low weight means it can be an utter swine to catch when it does let go. The Caterham had lower limits, but could be opposite locked around roundabouts until it ran out of fuel, without even worrying about it biting you.
I really liked the Elise, but another Caterham replaced it. The way I see it, both cars are utterly impractical, so the tiny bit of extra practicality of the Elise was wasted on me. The Caterham was a lot quicker (no pesky hot hatch would get near this below 120) and was much more rewarding when pushed beyond its limits. That said, I will remember the Elise for its cute looks, it's funky interior and its go-kart (if occasionally vicious) handling. Lovely steering too.