Fantastic grip and guaranteed racing thrills every time you go out, plus lots of noise
Just what you need to feel like you're inside a racing car, including the awkward access
Only two airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard. Pay extra for traction control
Toyota engine should be rock-solid, and bodywork feels built to last, too
Fine for two, as long as they pack light. Shame raising and lowering the roof is such a faff
Just the bare minimum, to keep the weight down
Awesome: this is what driving is all about. The 1.6-litre engine needs revving to perform but there's so much grip you'll stick to corners at any speed (don't take your foot off the throttle half way round though, unless you want to spin off). You might expect a teeth-rattling ride in such a sporty car, but it's surprisingly comfortable. Bring earplugs instead: it's very noisy, even with the roof on, which is tedious on long journeys.
The minimalist display is neatly arranged with digital readouts and cabin styling all fitting the race-car brief. It's easy to settle into a comfortable driving position, once you've actually got into the car, which isn't an elegant operation. The Elise isn't pretending to be a practical family car, but the boot will hold a couple of bags. It's just a shame that taking the roof up and down is such a palaver.
Toyota has supplied the engine, and we're confident that reliability will be good. A three-year warranty is now standard with the Lotus.
Safety kit is minimalist - two airbags are fitted but stability control will cost extra.
Prices are comparable to a BMW Z4 Roadster, but when it comes to the pace to petrol ratio, the Elise really impresses. It's almost a second quicker in the 0-60mph dash, but uses less petrol and emits less CO2. If your lifestyle allows, we can think of fewer more entertaining ways to travel for this money.