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Driving Nirvana

We have gotten so used to the silhouette of the Elise being the poster child for contemporary no-frills sports car design, we have all but forgotten that the fundamental design of the Elise is almost 20 years old. But since the Elise’s concept works like a charm all the time, and since it still is pound for pound the most fun to be had this side of a GT3 racer, there’s no need to tamper with a superbly successful working formula that has seen numerous Elises been introduced by Lotus over the years, and this the Elise 220 Cup is indeed a case in point.

Known prior to the 220 Cup as the S Cup, the Elise 220 Cup is a perfect example of how a highly specialized car manufacturer such as Lotus, transforms a serious track-focused model into a road-worthy production car without sacrificing the former characteristics too much. Indeed to label the Elise 220 Cup ‘tamed’ would be wrong. While true, it is toned down from the Cup R model, it remains track-focused but at the same time a tad more ‘civilized’ for the racer that needs to drive home afterwards, and intending on doing so considerably less intense than how’d he drove it back at the track.

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One look at the 220 Cup and you’re bound to instantly take in its attractive, yet purposeful aero package; from its front splitter, to its rear airflow diffuser, it redefines the ‘the racer for the road’ maxim. The lateral barge boards, fixed hardtop, engine cover, rollover hoop cover, side vanes and the rear wing are not only finished in black but also visually manifest its racing car genes. Naturally, because it is a Lotus, the Elise 220 Cup features ‘zero-lift’, although the revised aero package increases downforce by some 66 kg at 100mph, although this increases to an impressive 125kg at its 140mph V-max.

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As Lotus engineers underwent the 220 Cup’s ‘toning down’ process the sheer flexibility of this approach is helped by the weight conscious nature of the lightweight chassis and composite body of the Elise. And lo! And behold! The Elise 220 Cup is what results. Despite boasting the same power as the Elise S, the overall kerb weight of the Elise 220 Cup increases by only 42lbs (19kgs) over the R version. With its 1.8 liter supercharged motor delivering a respectable 220ps (at 6800rpm) and 250Nm at 4600rpm, the 220 Cup’s power to weight ratio is an amazing 238ps-per-ton. The result is high performance that is guaranteed to thrill and excite.

Engaging its 6 speed sports ratio (meaning close ratio) constant mesh helical gears and open differential transmission, the Elise 220 Cup surges towards 60mph in a scant 4.2 seconds and yet its ‘Combined fuel economy’ is given as 37.5mpg (7.5l/100km) and CO2emissions are only 175g/km. What this goes to show is that Lotus has indeed proven that sportscar ownership can remain both enticing and affordable.

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Underpinning every Elise 220 Cup is the most efficient, structurally rigid and low weight extruded and bonded chassis-tub. Based on more than 60 years of racing car developments, its torsional rigidity remains outstanding, even with the substantial power increase. Such traits allow the 220 Cup’s suspension to provide maximum efficiency, unparalleled grip, a comfortable ride and a dynamic balance that is unquestionably excellent and exceedingly rare for such a track-oriented sportscar.

An electronic differential lock (EDL) helps to tame any over-exuberance (for which you will surely be forgiven), while Sport mode Dynamic Performance Management system enhances a track car for road intentions. In summation, the Lotus Elise 220 Cup is a tangible reminder and an excellent testimony of what unremitting possibility for sheer undiluted fun it undoubtedly is, even more so in this ‘split persona’ form.

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For those who values the purest, rawest forms of driving experience and have the means to do so, the Elise 220 Cup provides you exactly that plus a whole lot more. It’s about as fun as driving gets.

For further information please go to www.lotuscars.com