It wasn’t so long ago that Lotus revealed the Elise S Cup R, an option for those who wanted a brand new car which was ready to go in the various Lotus race series around the world as a factory fresh, straight out of the box fully specced racer. The new Elise 220 Cup is essentially this car but now fully road legal and Type Approved.
The full aero package lifted directly from the Cup R is the first and most striking thing you’ll notice. Designed using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) then tested and fine tuned in the wind tunnel, the aero has many elements to aid air flow and produce downforce at speed to increase cornering speeds. Firstly, the air is met with a front splitter which diverts air around the sides of the Elise rather than underneath it to reduce air pressure under the car. This air is then managed past the front wheel and the side of the body by turning vanes which clean the air flow down the side of the body, aided by barge boards. Rear aero includes a huge diffuser which accelerates air out from under the car to increase downforce and this is coupled with a rear wing which again increases downforce at the rear of the car even further. All in, these parts start to work effectively from 60mph and at 100mph produce a very impressive 66kgs of downforce, increasing to 104kgs at 120mph and 125kgs at 140mph. The standard Elise S without aero produces 5, 7 and 8kgs at those speeds respectively so you can see the difference the aero package makes in real terms. Lotus quote a lap of Hethel’s test track being 3 seconds faster in the 220 Cup which bearing in mind the aero increases drag by 8% illustrates the difference that it makes.
The Elise 220 Cup is equipped with the same Toyota source 1.8 Supercharged 4 cylinder engine and 6 speed gearbox as the Elise S which produces 217bhp at 6,800rpm resulting in a 0-60mph of 4.2 seconds. Top speed is down 5mph from the Elise S to 140mph due to the increased drag and weight is 952kgs, up from 924kgs of the standard supercharged road car.
To further differentiate the 220 Cup from the standard Elise S road car there are more motorsport derived features which as standard include an uprated competition spec rollover bar, adjustable front ARB, double shear rear track control arms and the inclusion of the wiring loom to install a fire extinguisher and electrical kill switches (available for £2,394). This leads to an easier path to turning the S Cup into a fully fledged racer and there are more upgrades available including forged motorsport wheels (£1,974), A frame inc 4 point harness (£1,554), towing eyes front and rear (£294), FIA carbon race seat (£1,554), lightweight battery (£354) and a performance induction kit (£112). You can also fit a full MSA/FIA roll cage either from new or as a retrofit. If you wish to go the other way and just want the aggressive looks and included features but some comfort; air con (£1,250) and a Comfort Pack (£1,200) are available. The Comfort pack includes 4 speaker stereo, interior mats, extra sound insulation, passenger footrest, driving lamps and central door looking. While the roof of the 220 Cup is a fixed hard top, like similar models once you’ve got the car home it’s not impossible to remove this and either drive topless or use the soft top although no roof will have an adverse effect on the rear wing’s airflow and greatly reduce the effectiveness of the aero.
The suspension fitted is supplied by Eibach for the springs and Bilstein for the dampers as tuned by Lotus. Brakes are AP front calipers and Brembo rears, the usual Lotus Elise setup and also fitted is the Lotus Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) which includes Tour and Sport modes and an electronic rear differential. Standard tyres are the tried and tested Yokohama AD07 however you can spec or fit the semi-slick A048’s which we’re used to seeing on Elise/Exiges that spend a lot of their time on track.
On the road, as expected at speed the aero is very noticeable. While the steering remains light and well weighted as per the Elise S the car certainly feels a lot more planted on the road once you explore quicker corners where you’re starting to feel some lateral pressure on your body pushing you into the seat bolster. The confidence you feel in these high speed corners is very evident and you can really get the impression that the car is being pushed into the road rather than mechanic grip alone pulling you around the bend. On a fast A road when you’d usually feel the steering lighten up over undulations at speed the Elise now has a firmness and solidity which initially surprises with its evidence. While the aero isn’t as noticeable on minor and slower roads the car still has the Elise’s untenable quickness of turn in with more than enough grip through the corners but it’s the times the aero is effective where of course you see and feel the benefit.
The Elise 220 Cup is aimed at drivers who want to progress to taking their car on track and see the quicker laps times afforded and then having a clear upgrade path to a better car. If you wish to see yourself on the grid actually racing then this car also ticks that box while retaining the usability you’ll not get from a dedicated racer. Alternatively if you feel you’re driving at the limits of a standard car on track this is a level up and then if you wish, levels beyond. As a proposition this works well helping you gaining the skills required and then pushing yourself onwards to a more accomplished driver with a more confident car at the limits.
The Elise 220 Cup is priced at £43,500. To view the images below, click on any to open the gallery. Photos: nineteen80one.com