The new Elise, launched in 1996, was a simple and nimble sports car using the Colin Chapman principle of 'simplify and add lightness' - everything about the Elise was designed to make it lightweight. Lotus' signature backbone chassis was replaced by an aluminium tub and the structure was clothed glass-fibre composite body.
Inside the Elise everything was pared back – the seating position was low to the floor and legs outstretched, giving the driver that sense of connection with the road. Mounted amidships powering the rear wheels, the engine was Rover's K-series in 1.8i form, familiar to those who own the rival MGF. The lightness of the Elise meant it propelled the car to 60mph in under six seconds.
The model's name was inspired by that of the grand-daughter of Lotus' owner at the time - Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli - who was called Elisa.