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6,958 Posts
Discussion Starter #1

Light makes might: Elise SC gets a supercharger

BASE PRICE: $54,500
DRIVETRAIN: 218-hp, 155-lb-ft supercharged I4; rwd, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 2006 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.4 sec

"We're a little niche," said Lotus executive engineer Dave Minter. "And that's a little niche in a niche."

That is the Lotus Elise SC, the little roadster with a supercharged but not intercooled engine set in one of the most delightfully agile chassis you can buy.

There are seven variations of this basic funbucket from Lotus, none straying far from the others. But the more you drive them, the more you appreciate the subtle differences.

Of the seven, this one might be the best combination of day-to-day "comfort" and fun-to-drive tossability. With a collapsible toplet on, getting in and out is still about as easy as for an '80s short-track stock car. You slither, crawl, beg and finally flop onto the pavement next to the door like a docked tuna. Ergonomics are typically Lotus-unpleasant, from starting procedure to location of HVAC controls. The outside mirrors droop. The inside mirror vibrates out of alignment.

But after a day's drive, we felt no pain. Actually, we were grinning like moon-eyed converts at a torque rally.

The SC offers the precision steering and handling for which Lotus is famous and more power to use with it. A Magnus-sen M45 supercharger adds 29 hp and 23 lb-ft of torque to the normally aspirated version of the 1.8-liter four. Power peaks at 218 hp, and torque tops out at 156 lb-ft. That upped output is also available across a broader band than with the stock motor. (If you also want an intercooler with your supercharger, move to the hardtopped Exige S 240, with 240 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque; but the intercooler is smack in the middle of the rear window and blocks your vision.)

In the average supercar, 29 hp might not mean much. But in a car that weighs just 2006 pounds, it's huge. As in all things Lotus, the basic design dictum with the Elise was lightness. The lightness also helps return 22 mpg EPA combined--not bad for a car that goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 150 mph.

We drove three SCs over finely twisting two-lanes, with and without the sport package, and liked them all. You could even save the $2,600 cost of the Sport Pack--with forged alloy wheels, Yokohama AD07 Advan tires, 175/55R-16 fronts and 225/45R-17 rears, tuned shocks, twin oil coolers and ProBax sport seats-and still have fun. But if you're going to drop $54,500 for the car, get the Sport Pack.

You'll smile the first time you enter a corner. The SC is so light that control almost comes with throttle alone. On corners with enough room and sightline, instead of braking, we entered a bit wide and powered out; brakes were almost unnecessary.

With the future of automotive transport in flux and with ever-increasing fuel-economy standards, small and light could be standard on every car in the future. This little Lotus could be the future of sports-car-dom.

3,044 Posts
Cant wait to take one for a spin after I rode in one a bit as it looks so much nicer in person, not to mention more power is always a good thing. I still think the n/a elise can be just as fun with exhaust and a few mods if you are only taking it to very tight tracks like small willow and some config's of buttonwillow where well handling lower HP cars really shine. Wouldnt be tough to decide between one of these and an 07 exige tho...


4,577 Posts
What's the difference in price between the base model and the SC? I would probably get the base model and add a turbo kit.

A little review...

ll -
I just got back from ForcedFed's shop in Livermore ... We met Brett and his team and they introduced us to the car. We poured over the engine compartment. We did some Q&A. Then ... we went for test rides!

: HOLY FREAKIN WOW, that thing is awsome !!!!!!!!!!

Ahem. ... must calm down ...

ok. all better now.


I made the 40 minute trip over to ForcedFed's shop in Livermore California. It's located in an industrial park only a few miles from the nuke lab. I almost drive past the place but my peripheral vision picks up a dark colored Elise. I U it and pull in. There's a small gathering of people around a Graphite Gray Elise. I also recognize a particular Blue Liz parked nearby.

I park, get out, and join the group. The car is sitting there with its engine lid removed. We're outside the shop, there is a blue sky above, and the air is chilly. Folks are asking questions but I spent the first few minutes looking over the install before I join the conversation.

Yeah, the new slicks (edit: Toy R888's... not actualy slicks) look interesting - the wheels they are on look nice too (*shrug*). But what i'm interested in is located in the engine bay. Sure enough ... there's our familier engine. But around that engine are some new components. Over there's the cooler ... and over there is the intake ... peering down inside I can see the new exhaust pipes as well as the heart of the turbo. The welds look very good. It looks very clean and absolutely professional. It doesn't look like anything is cramed in either ... the parts all appeared to have generous clearance and the fit looks like Lotus themselves might have shipped it. I can see the Unichip controller. The engineering looks good. In the cabin there's two new gagues - whose look & placement arn't my style but oh well.

I hold in the drool and rejoin the group.
Q and A time...

Me: "How's the tune comming? Solve that dip?"
Brett's tune tech: "Yes, the dip's gone."

Me: "Oh yeah? Cool! Are you still doing VVTL?"
Tech: "Yes"

Me: "How's the speed?"
The tech with a big grin he can't hold in: "0 -> 100 is in the 8 seconds!" (edit: The tech might have been expressing a best guess or something. Since the tuning is not done yet I bet they themselves don't know yet. We need to wait for the track test for the final numbers.)

Me: "What!? Wow. How's the driveability?"
Brett then tells us that we're gonna see for ourselves ... we're gonna do TEST RIDES!

Kiyoshi climbs in to the passenger seat and they start it up.

It sounds different. A better kind of different.
Idle is more burbly. More purposeful.
Sounds like how my vette idles.

The car backs out and, at normal parking lot speeds, and makes its way out to the street. Now this is a big test for me because I want to make sure the thing doesn't sound or act ridiculous at normal driving speeds. My Liz is afterall my new daily driver. I'm impressed ... the Liz has a deeper voice but it's not shouting ... the thing has gone through puberty and its voice has changed but for the better. I decide that it would be fine on the street.

The car, on the main street now, dissapears behind a building and then we hear it launch. Hehehehe when you punch it folks are gonna know! Roar!

Eventually the car comes back and Kiyoshi is wearing a new grin.

My turn!
Yeah yeah ... driving out to the street ... yeah yeah, ... easing onto the deserted road .... yeah yeah ...

Brett eased up to about 25mph ... then launched it from there.
He floors it to the top of second...
Then floors it to the top of third...
We're climbing through fourth...
We keep going faster and faster and ohMyGodNowINeedToGoGetATowel.

Okay ... I've only gotten to know a 70's vette, my Supra, an RX7, a couple of Dodges. None of them were supercars. I'm sure many of you out there own some pretty darn fast cars and could do a much better comparison. But for me ... this was the fastest acceleration I've ever experianced - and I fell off a mountainside once!

At the top of third it was starting to get scary. I had a fleeting vision of being dead. These roads are deserted ... it's saturday in an industrial park ... but there are some slight curves coming up ... is Brett gonna slow it any???

Nope. We accelerate into the slight curves. I glance over and the needle's in the tripples.

The stock Liz is nothing like this. Now way. Now there's a monster in the boot. This is seriously faster. We come to a stop (our little Liz has some serious braking ability), U it, then do it all over again.

We then slow down to 70 and Brett puts it into 6th gear. He says 'watch this' ... then he floors it. The car launches forward in a way that my poor stock Saffron Liz could only dream about. No need to downshift!!

The drive gave me a new appriciation of the Liz's suspension and handling ability. The car was solid. I thought I knew were some of the car's limits were but Brett knows the car much better than I do. Brett must think I'm a nut case cause I was laughing out loud and saying 'oh my god' the whole time. I told Brett he could have charged me for that ride ... it was thrilling. Oh, and the not dieing part is good too.

And there is an awsome new sound while the car is running hard. You can hear the turbo ... it's a sucking, screaming, blasting sort of sound that builds up ... like Darth Vader. Except ... it's a "Darth Vader Is Comming To KICK YOUR ASS" kinda sound. It is so sweet. At the shift it makes a phsssst! sort of sound. I like it.

This is now a different car. We get back and I told Brett I know he's got got at least one sale. I notice that we didn't do any standing lauches or really put any stress on 1st gear so I ask if they have a 0 -> 60 yet and he says not yet but that it's in the higher 3's and falling (I take it there's a little more tuning left to be done.)

I take a part and feel the welds with my fingers. Good craftsmanship. The indside of the seam feels good too.

Something I regret ... I had a video camera in my coat pocket BUT FORGOT TO USE IT! I did however take a few still images. I will attach them.

I'm sorry if my description is short on technicalls ... I'm not a gear head or a racer ... just a guy who loves cars and gets thrills off of quick acceleration & great handling. (I don't care much for top speed - I never use it *shrug*). Brett has some test equipment wired to sensors scattered through the system ... he held it up and read off some temperatures and seemed very happy with the numbers but it was greek to me. (When it comes to my cars I understand things like the throttle pedal, the shifter, and occasionally the gagues but if he says the temp is good then I'll have to trust him.) The number 'twenty degrees below zero' was used at one point. Also, 7psi I think.

What I want is a system that is install & forget ... and for that to work it has to be well designed and reliable. I think that's what we might have here. We discussed projected prices and I was pleased ... I was actually willing to go a little higher The install will be an additional charge on top of the kit. They said that if the car ever needed any servicing that they could do it.

You know that grin folks talk about when they talk about driving in their Elise? Well, I've now upshifed the Grin Level. My grin now goes to eleven.


I'd like to thank Brett and his tech for letting us lay eyes on this thing, ask questions, and of course the test rides. They were nice, articulate, and willing to answer questions. I have never never ever accelerated that fast before and I'll never forget the ride.

Next step... convince Sara that this year's toy budget needs a little boost.

And a vid of course!


600 Posts

1,253 Posts
The Elise is an incredible car. They keep tweaking it and coming out with new variations. It kind of funny because the plain vanilla flavor introduced in 2005 is such a kick to drive. One of my all time favorites, having driven nearly 100 different exotics. Thumbs up to Lotus!
Hey Torbin. Nice to see you here. :)

4,577 Posts
at the end of the day, it still has a Toyota Celica engine..
Your point being...? It's a cost-efficient, well-designed, light-weight engine that makes good power and revs high. It has a Yamaha-designed head with VVT on both the intake and exhaust cams.

There's a reason people swapped out the Rover K-series for the Toyota and Honda motors.
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