My 05 had problems with the steering rack, AC, oil coolers, and ABS. The 06 has had none of those issues plus it has LED tail lights and drive by wire.
- Steering rack issues really seem to be car-by-car. As another reader pointed out, it's the same part number.
- A/C problems are a legitimate beef if they haven't already been fixed. That said, an '05 is a 13-14 year old car. Anything needs A/C work by then, anyway. I'd file this one under 'inspect the particular car and decide.'
- Oil Coolers - the TSB for the hose fittings kept moving the end date later and later. Later than '05 models are definitely not free of this concern unless they've had the TSB work performed
- ABS also looks like a car-by-car issue. Some had it, many didn't. See also CDL module issues and broken shifters.
Taillights: I happen to be something of a Luddite in that I like that I can replace a dead taillight bulb for a buck anywhere on the planet. I probably will go to plug-into-the-bulb-socket LEDs for the brake lights (because of the improved response time), but that's plug and play on the '05 Elise rear lamps. At this late date, an 05-11 Elise doesn't look like current sports car styling anyway - it's obviously out of the same styling generation as the C5 Corvette, for instance, so I don't really worry about 'cutting edge styling cues.' That said, I think there are some very attractive aftermarket LED rear light options, and if somebody rear-ended my car tomorrow I would consider them VS putting the reflector and bulb lamps back in.
Drive by wire. Yeah. It exists. Unless it comes with automatic shifting, I don't see what it gets me (not that I want auto shift on my Elise either) - I don't want dynamic traction control on an Elise - I don't drive it in snow, and if I wanted lots of hand-holding to save me from my bad driving habits I would have bought...oh yeah...nearly anything else with a computer to manage the car at the edge of adhesion. I know what it got the OEM (lower emissions and better fuel economy) but I don't see what it gets me
versus ye olde throttle cable. So I'd file that one as a wash.
Newer ECU (computer), though, is a win for other reasons: tuning is much easier on the T4e versus the T4. I'd consider a later car more carefully if I were planning on big mods to the stock engine. OTOH, tuning is not that bad on the T4, either - we do have vendors who will drop a tune on your ECU of any year, and there are replacements available as well. Given the large installed pool of T4s in '05s (the most plentiful Elise), they're not going anywhere.