Lotus Elise Convertible 2000 - 2010

Lotus Elise Convertible 2000 - 2010

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • It offers excellent performance and handling
  • All the engines offer decent economy levels


  • You don’t receive many luxuries
  • Getting in and out can be tricky
  • It’s not a very practical car to own


This new generation Elise is a major improvement compared to the original model. It still retains its magnificent looks, lightweight body and superb handling capabilities. It does this while offering an extremely fun, engaging and exhilarating drive that only few cars could ever hope to match. The Elise may not be the most practical of cars and doesn’t come with much equipment, but as an indulgence for weekend-driving, it’s perfect.

Exterior and Interior

This new generation Elise maintains the same general shape and structure of the previous model, but now comes with a slightly more aggressive styling, especially around the front end. Don’t expect many luxury features inside though. The Elis is a practical Spartan with even carpets being an optional extra. The cabin is extremely small and can feel claustrophobic, especially for larger drivers. The seats are only thinly padded making longer journeys uncomfortable. You’re also limited in what you can take with you. There’s only a tiny space behind the seats for storing items in the cabin and a miniscule 112-litre boot, which is just about big enough for a daypack or two. Everything does feel well constructed, and the driving position is excellent, however, you don’t get much kit especially in the original models. A few extra luxuries such as air-con and lumbar support were added as optional extras in the newer models.

Performance and Economy

The two original engines may not sound powerful, only having a 1.8-litre displacement, but when actually used on the road, the car offers excellent performance. The entry-level unit producing 120bhp should be quick enough for most people going from a standing start to 60mph in 5.7 seconds, whilst still returning an impressive 38mpg. The 111S is even quicker reaching 60mph in just 5.1 seconds and is actually more economical - 40mpg. Both of these engines were dropped in 2005, though. The 111R is even quicker than the two previous models. It propels the car from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds, however, the fuel efficiency drops down to just 34mpg. The new entry-level unit that arrived on the scene in 2006 is actually the slowest engine in the range taking 5.9 seconds to reach 60mph. It’s fairly economical though, achieving 37mpg. The top of the range – the SC engine - is blisteringly quick taking just 4.6 seconds to reach 60mph from a standing start. However, as a result, it is the least economical engine at 33mpg. It’s hard trying to choose which engine to go for as they all offer excellent performance. It all depends on what you want from it. If you’re just after a car to help you get you foot into the supercar playground, then either of the entry-level models should do. If you’re after performance, then the SC would be the best choice, whilst the 111S is the engine to go for if you’re interested in both pace and a sensible fuel economy. Insurance costs won’t be cheap with all of the engines falling into group 20.

Like to Drive

The driving position in the Elise is spot on. The seats are low-slung and you have good views of the road ahead. Once you’re on the move it only gets better with the Elise’s low centre of gravity preventing any body roll in the corners. The steering offers pin-point accuracy and plenty of feedback so you know exactly what the wheels are doing at all times. There’s also never-ending grip especially on a dry surface, however, the more powerful units can make you loose some traction when the tarmac is wet. Traction control was added to the car as an optional extra later on and it helps provide more grip in the wet. The suspension copes well on rougher road surfaces smoothing out most of the bumps. There is, however, lots of road and engine noise. One downside is that there is no power steering which makes slow speed manoeuvres difficult; and getting in and out of the Lotus Elise takes some practice before you manage it gracefully.

Faults and Repairs

The Lotus Elise, just like most sports cars, is likely to suffer from the usual suspension and brake problems with both of them wearing down quickly. Especially if it’s been driven fast and hard, something that is pretty much guaranteed with an Elise. Other problem areas include the immobiliser and the radiator hoses, which are prone to leaking, as is the clip-on roof. Another major fault to look out for is blown gaskets. Make sure to check under the oil filler cap for any water or a white substance that will point to any problems. It’s not going to be cheap to meet the service cost either, as Lotus service bears an astronomical price-tag. Having to go in for a service every 6,000 miles you’re going to be seeing a lot more of a Lotus mechanic than you’d like.