I'm as avid a fan of the Elise as anyone, but a Z06 (in the hands of a skilled driver) will win out on any but the tightest courses. Look at 0-60 times, top speed and power/weight ratios.
For anyone who hasn't driven a Z06 on the track, they are incredible cars. I would rank them up there with the Elise in terms of performance value per dollar.
For me, the Elise wins because it is faster in the ways that I enjoy most (high G cornering), has stunning looks and is special in a way that a mass market car can never achieve.
And to ward off any claims that "my buddy Nigel whipped up an a Z06 in his Elise around Nurburgring," the driver makes all of the difference. I've beaten up on Z06s in my 22-year-old RX7, and I'm not that good. Some people are just that bad.
If the Elise had more power then it would be a lot closer. With the increase of wieght I would think that the Elise would need 30-50 more HP to really equal the two in the hands of a skilled driver. The driver is way too much of a factor. I could drive a F1 car and still lose to either one because I'm not that skilled of a driver (yet).
But in terms of style the Elise wins. No amount of HP will change that.
Great thread guys!
Sownman - Best and shortest answer I have seen
The driver makes a huge difference in any car. It must be well over 90% of people with Drivers licences do not understand how to drive or what their vehicles limits are.
A C5 would outperform a Fed Elise, just look at the lb/hp ratios (wish I had the chart I made up with me). Lb/hp and overall weight are key physics factors that are usually used to class cars. Suspension is secondary. The overall weight would mean that the Elise can corner at slightly faster speeds. The KEY difference is the fun driving a lighter car, now that makes these two cars WORLDS apart.
I'm selling my 2003 Z06 to get the Elise. While I love the Z06 and there is wonderful power in every gear at every RPM (it's truly incredible), for me it comes down to owning a car that will be produced in quantities of about 3,000 per year versus 30,000 per year at a reasonable price that will be fun to drive, handle well and even be fast in a straight line (uh oh I said it). I like some level of exclusivity and at $40k the Lotus beats everything out there.
As for fun factor, I guess I will have to see when I drive the Elise. The Z06 is surprisingly comfortable and although the interior is inferior, the ergonomics are great. And of course the handling is amazing, a lot better than a C5 and I know as I had a 2002 C5.
As for price, the Z06 and Elise are not that far apart as you can get a brand new 2004 Z06 for about 46K (sticker price of $52K).
All in all, two great cars and probably about the best bang for the buck you can get.
It is going to be close. The Z-06 is a great car as far as performance.
The Elise is still smaller, lighter. The differences in acceleration can be made up in braking later, and carrying more speed into the corners. It may come down to the track. It will certainly depend on the driver.
FedElise - I am on the track with Z06's almost every time I go to the track. They are very fast. In my Exige I can't compete with a well driven Z06. They are too fast in the straights.
The ability to accelerate out of a corner is a huge issue. While I may carry more speed through the corner and be able to brake later than the Z06 - they destroy my Exige in a straight line. Horsepower is horsepower - no questions asked.
Keep in mind that I've had guys who drive 600+hp cars (Vipers, Skylines, Vettes) ride/drive my Exige and they always have a huge smile on their face when they get out. There is more to driving than absolute speed.