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'Less weight equals more Lotus.' That's the theme for the new Elise Sprint, a stripped-out and pared-down version of a stripped-out and pared-down sports car. Looking at a standard Elise, it's difficult to see how it could be made any lighter, yet Hethel has managed to take almost 41kg out. This means the Sprint now weighs in at 798kg dry.
Carbon fibre, that wondrous kilo-shedding material, is widely used. The seats, roll hoop and engine covers, front access panel and sill covers are all made from the stuff, while a lithium-ion battery saves 9kg all by itself. A polycarbonate rear screen replaces the glass item, and new forged alloy wheels and optional two-piece brake discs reduce the unsprung mass.
These changes contribute to quicker acceleration figures for the Sprint model, but in fact, weight-saving measures have been applied to the Elise range as a whole. The front clamshell is nearly 9kg lighter than before and features a revised look with bigger intakes, while interior weight savings are brought about by a new centre console and the gorgeous exposed mechanism of the open-gated manual gearbox. At the rear, the light clusters have been simplified and moved inboard, and a new 'Electric Light Blue' colour can be specified across the whole range, as can the Sprint's carbon fibre components.
Both 1.6-litre and supercharged 1.8-litre engines are available on the Sprint, and special graphics and a black finish on the wheels mark the special out from the regular Elise offerings. The weight loss has also allowed Lotus to increase the spring rates for the suspension without compromising ride quality.
The Sprint will carry a £5,000 (around €5,800) premium over the regular Sport models, and deliveries are due to start next month.
Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales commented: "Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car. Whilst other manufacturers try to keep pace with Lotus' weight reduction achievements, we've raised the bar beyond their reach. An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and, it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800kg barrier."