I have owned a lot of Lotus cars. Driven most of the road cars. Elites, both old and new are interesting. Europa are very Elise like but you do get tired of the heat. Elans have the best shifting of any car I have ever driven. Esprits are cool,but heavy at low speeds. You have to going fast to have fun. Same with the Evora and M100 Elan. The four seated cars are, well.....4 seaters and built when Lotus was more concerned about costs and saving money than building great cars. The 7 is great but still a 1960's car.
Which brings this to the Elise. All around it is the best Lotus ever built. Does everything well. Every time I get into the car it is like I am driving it for the first time. Nothing wrong with other Lotus cars, but in my opinion the best is the Elise or Exige.
Have to agree with this. Having had a v8esprit, an exige s, and now an exige v6, it's certainly a cut above the others I've had in terms of an "out of the box" car. It performs strongly, handles well, is built very well, and looks totally hot in the flesh.
It's a real shame that you Americans can't get them on your shores. Hopefully it will happen for you guys oneday soon.
- in the sense of legendary greatness: only the Guigiaro Esprit, either S1 or ESSEX
- in the sense of simplicity and fun: the Elise
- in the sense of performance: the Exige V6
- in the sense of refinement: the Evora
Esprit no longer most powerful FYI. Evora S is definitely quicker. Hate talking numbers, but they don't lie. And you can drive it like you stole it without any of the engine issues the early V8 Esprits had which were not cheap to repair....
As a newb to the entire lineage, I had Elise for 8 yrs and it was fabulous, but Evora does everything the Eliges do but better and more comfortable at the same time. So...
Evora S gets my vote and this comes off 2 days at WGI where everyone agreed my car hauls serious ass. Even gets respect from the Vette community!!!
Let's establish parameters over what makes a car great.
So it really boils down to how you prioritize them. The Exige V6 will get high ratings for styling, cache, performance and possibly reliability, whereas it's a spartan car with few added features. Whereas the Evora has more features, they sometimes pose a reliability issue.
Having read everything above. It's really hard to pin it down for me. I tend to think of it in historic terms and one that has not been mentioned is Lotus Eleven. Multiple class winner at Lemans, numerous race winner and road car. The type 14 Elite was the revolutionary in every way. However, the Elan was the car that brought the best of these elements and converted it into a more mass produce car and brought that experience to a lot of people.
It was also a commercial success selling over 10,000 units in 11 years when there were half the number of people in the world and helped fund the world championships in F1 through the 60's. It was, and still is an extremely successful race car across a lot of categories including the giant killing 26R. Lastly, of all the Lotus models, it is the one that now commands rising prices in the market place.
So very long winded way of saying my vote is for the Elan