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Lotus aims Elise at company car drivers



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Lotus has unveiled a new company car tax-busting powerplant for its range of fleet-friendly 111 Elise roadsters. The low carbon dioxide emitting engine, a 1.8-litre variable valve control (VVC) K-series sourced from MG Rover, will go in the 111 and 111s unveiled next month.

The new car will reach forecourts at Lotus's 30 UK dealers in June with an asking price of £25,995 for the entry-level 111 and a £2000 premium for the 111s. Provisional figures suggest the engine will emit about 163g/km of CO2, which would put the car in the 15 per cent tax bracket under the new company car tax regime.

Not only is this cleaner than the Elise Race Tech, which emits 177g/km and falls into the 17 per cent tax bracket, but it's also lower than a 2.0-litre Ford Mondeo TDCi, which emits 192g/km CO2 and falls into the 20 per cent bracket.

This means the annual BIK bill for a 40 per cent taxpayer behind the wheel of an Elise 111 will be £1559 - just £8 more than the £1551 bill for the same driver in the Mondeo TDCi.

Emissions are kept to a minimum thanks to the car's dry weight of 757kg and Lotus's own K4 engine management system. This unit is specially tuned to give maximum power all the way up to the top.

Fuel consumption is also improved over the existing Elise. Early estimates suggest that, on the European combined cycle, the new engine will return 40.9mpg. But the fleet friendly car doesn't skimp on performance. The four-pot produces 156bhp at 7000 rpm with 129lb-ft of torque being produced between 3500 and 4600rpm.

In addition, it can make the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds and takes just 14 seconds to break the 100mph barrier. It has a top speed of 132mph. Lotus wants to sell at least 3000 Norfolk-built Elises worldwide by the end of the 2002/3 financial year.

The addition of the entry-level Elise 111 and the luxury 111s, which includes full leather interior, carpets and upgraded radio system, raises the number of production Elises to five. The other models are Elise standard, Elise Race Tech, and Elise Sports Tourer.

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