The Elise isn't that servo assisted so the pressure required will be more. I remember jumping out of my Elise S1 (no servo at all) and into a Mercedes and the lightest touch of the brake pedal (I thought) nearly had the airbags going off! Lots of modern cars are very heavily assisted on the brakes to make stopping a zero effort affair. Lotus want you to be more involved and feel more of how much braking pressure you are applying hence the harder pedal.
With regards to the brakes after washing, theirs either a very small amount of surface rust which appears incredibly quickly on wet Lotus discs that you're clearing or a little bit of water. As you say, it's gone in a few yards so nothing to worry about.