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No new info as far as I can tell.

Best handling Elise ever?

The Lotus Elise is to go on sale in the States next summer and this is what the Yanks will be offered: a restyled Series 2 model, with a 190 bhp version of Toyota's 1.8-litre VVTL-I petrol engine, as already confirmed for the Exige. The Toyota engine replaces the Rover K-Series unit as the latter is unable to meet the US's emissions legislation, but it should offer more than just an expedient solution: Lotus is claiming increased low-end torque and greater acceleration from the new engine, and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. Top speed is over 140 mph. The variable valve timing and lift (VVTL) gives the lightweight, compact engine more flexibility than the K-Series, even if the maximum torque figure is relatively low (133lb ft), and maximum power does not kick in until 6000rpm. The engine has undergone a few slight modifications, however, including a remapping of the ECU for a few extra bhp and better mid-range pick-up, and a new exhaust system and different intake manifold are fitted, along with new twin oil coolers.

The engine is paired with a six-speed gearbox, also sourced from Toyota, and is again mounted in a mid-ships position. Total weight of the US Elise is kept down to less than 2000 lbs, with the extruded/bonded aluminium chassis weighing less than 150lbs. Further changes are minimal, apart from a little tweaking of the styling to make the Elise look more aggressively masculine. Twin centre-mounted exhaust tailpipes differentiate the rear end, and there are extra indicators on the front and rear bumpers. The so-called 'Federal' Elise will also come with a full specification: power windows, a stereo, airbags and even air conditioning, though the lightweight manual hood remains. Brakes have been improved, with extra servo assistance and - purists beware - the addition of ABS. "The result is", says Road and Track magazine, which has already driven the car, "what may well be the best-handling car in the world."

The Federal Elise will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show at the end of this year, with sales starting next spring. As yet, Lotus describes this model as "US-specific", and says that the K-Series engine will remain in European Elises for the foreseeable future. However, with the Exige coupe receiving the Toyota engine next year as well, it seems unlikely that the Elise will keep on with the Rover unit indefinitely. The 190bhp VVTL-I Exige will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next spring.

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