MF Review: Lotus Elise vs MINI Cooper S

By John Loxton

A 2006 Lotus Elise now shares my garage with my 2004 MCS and my wife’s 2002 MC CVT. As I drive the Lotus and the MINI, it is impossible for me to not find myself comparing them. Along with the obvious differences, there are many similarities between them. I thought MotoringFile readers might be interested in a comparison of the MINI and the Lotus Elise.

At first, this may seem a strange comparison, but I am surprised at how many Elise owners either now have or previously had a MINI. These cars are very different in concept, but share the underlying belief that driving should be a fun, even passionate, undertaking. Both the MINI and the Lotus are a joy to drive and both are produced in England with some components coming from other parts of the world. Both can be a bit quirky and both have some known issues, but that’s just part of what gives them their character.

I have always considered the MINI to be a sports car in a stylish and practical, but not particularly sporty, body. Never one to leave things alone, I have made a number of modifications to my MCS. These are the typical modifications of intake, exhaust, supercharger pulley, rear sway bar, better wheels and tires, along with some other odds and ends. These put my MCS closer in performance to a JCW MCS than a stock MCS and probably make for a better comparison with the Lotus. I certainly don’t have to tell MotoringFile readers what it’s like to drive a MINI or how it performs. I tell people who don’t have one that it’s a performance car, a sports car with a practical side, and fun to drive.

The Lotus Elise is an elemental sports car that is not much more than a slightly civilized race car. There is little in the Lotus that isn’t there to make the car go faster or handle better. Most available options are intended to make it even more at home on the track, but a few options do serve to make it a bit more suitable for the street. The design of the Elise makes no pretense at practicality and it stands out in a crowd. The Elise isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t a daily driver for anyone but the hard core sports car enthusiast, but there are owners who use them as daily drivers and a few have one as their only car.

The Lotus and the MINI could not be more different on the surface. The MINI is front-engine and front wheel drive; the Lotus is mid-engine and rear wheel drive. The MINI can transport two people in comfort, four if none are too large. Quite a lot of “stuff” can fit in a MINI, particularly if you fold the rear seats down. The Lotus is strictly a two-seater and there isn’t much room for anything else except those two people.

Styling is always very subjective. The MINI doesn’t appeal to everyone and neither does the Elise. The MINI is more than it appears to be to those not in the know; the Elise visually shouts out its sporting intentions. The Elise has black grilles and vents on almost every surface, making for a somewhat busy appearance. With the exception of the very small grilles just to the outside of the tail lamps, every grille or vent on the Elise is functional and serves a needed purpose. I chose mine to be painted black at least in part to reduce the visual impact of black grilles and vents.

The specifications show a number of similarities and a few differences between the MINI and the Lotus. The most obvious differences are the Lotus weighs less than 2000 lbs, about 700 lbs less than the MINI, and the Lotus is also almost 12” shorter in height than the MINI. Other dimensions are much closer. The Lotus is about 5” longer, but has a 6” shorter wheelbase. The Lotus is about one inch wider than the MINI, although it is narrower in the cockpit area. Ground clearance is about the same for both vehicles, but the Lotus, with much more front overhang, requires more care getting into and out of some driveways. Scraping bottom on the Lotus can also be much more damaging because the front fiberglass clamshell is what usually takes the hit.

The Lotus develops 190 hp @7800 rpm as compared with the stock MCS of 168 hp @6000 rpm or the JCW MCS with 207 hp @6950 rpm. Torque is 138 ft-lbs @6800 rpm for the Lotus and 162 ft-lbs @4000 rpm for the stock MCS or 180 ft-lbs @4500 rpm for the JCW MCS. Redline on the Lotus is 8000 rpm although transients to 8500 rpm are allowed while the MINI has a max of 6750 rpm stock or 7000 rpm for the JCW. The track intentions of the Lotus are obvious in the way it produces its power at higher rpm than the MINI. Torque is relatively low in the Lotus, and not developed until a high rpm, but with the weight of less than 2000 lbs, less torque is needed for exhilarating performance. The Lotus is also geared about ten percent lower than the MINI which helps improve performance off the line. Considering horsepower to weight ratio and gearing, the Lotus performance would compare with a MINI having about 275 hp.

The MINI has pretty conventional seating and as we all know has much more interior room than non-owners imagine. The seats adjust in many ways to allow for different sized drivers to find a comfortable position and the steering wheel tilts to further accommodate different driving positions. The Elise driver’s seat has only one adjustment — fore and aft. There are no other seat adjustments available and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust — either you fit or you don’t. The passenger seat doesn’t adjust at all and it is a couple inches narrower than the driver’s seat. The seats are actually about six inches below the very wide door sills. You sit almost on the floor. This, along with the fact that the top of the roof is only 44” from the ground, makes entry and exit a learned skill requiring some contortion, rather than something that comes naturally. It’s a good idea to practice your entry and exit skills in the privacy of your own garage until you get the technique down. It can be embarrassing to arrive somewhere with everyone watching — and they will be watching if you arrive in an Elise — and blow your whole cool image by awkwardly stumbling out of the car. The Lotus is a car you put on, like a pair of pants, rather than get into. Once in, however, I find it quite comfortable, even though I am 6’ 3” tall. The seats wrap around you, fit snugly and have little padding. The foot pedals are a bit close together for anyone with feet over about a size 10, but I usually wear tennis shoes or driving shoes in the Lotus.

There is very little storage space in the Lotus. There isn’t even a glove box. There is a narrow shelf under the dash and a little space behind the seats. The boot is a small compartment behind the engine large enough for a medium sized duffle. The Lotus has no spare tire and doesn’t come with runflat tires. Like many of us who have taken the runflats off our MINIs, a can of tire sealant is stored in the boot to hopefully get you far enough to get a tire repaired should you have a flat. The Elise comes with a removable soft top and there is an optional hard top. Hard top removal is a seasonal, rather than daily, operation since it requires tools and there is no place in the Elise to stow the top once it’s removed. The soft top can be rolled and stored in the boot when removed.

Instrumentation in both cars is similar, giving you just the basic information you need. Both the MINI and the Lotus come with speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, fuel gauge and trip odometer. Warning lights serve for most other monitoring functions. The Lotus offers no cruise control, navigation system, automatic climate control, on-board computer, heated seats, or power mirrors. One of the few concessions to creature comforts is the optional “Touring Pack” which gives you additional sound insulation, leather seats, power windows, full carpeting and a radio upgrade. You can even get a cup holder if you order the “Premium Pack” which also adds an XM radio. In the U.S., the Elise comes with A/C, but you can pay $250 extra to have the factory leave it off. There is no transmission option other than the standard 6-speed. There is no power steering, but it isn’t needed since the Lotus only has a little over 700 lbs on the front wheels compared with the MINI which has about 1700 lbs on the front wheels. Steering is very light and responsive even without power assist. The Lotus comes with ABS standard and traction control is an option, but no other driver aids such as DSC or ASC which are available in the MINI. A Torsen limited slip differential is also available.

On the road, the driving experience and dynamics are very different, yet the results are closer than you might imagine. The Lotus is loud and rough. In stock form it is louder than my MINI with a Borla exhaust. You feel the bumps in the road much more distinctly in the Lotus and there is good feedback through the steering wheel. The throttle in the Lotus is very responsive. Blipping the throttle to downshift is an instantaneous thing in the Lotus while the MINI seems to take a moment to think about it. The Lotus has cat-like reflexes and responds almost as an extension of your thoughts. This is at least in part due to its light weight and direct, unassisted steering. There is almost no body roll in cornering the Lotus and grip levels are very high. Gear selection is smoother and surer in the MINI. The Lotus shifter is notchier and less precise. The MINI carries approximately 61 percent of its weight on its front wheels and at the limit, the MINI will understeer. The Lotus, with 62 percent of its weight on the rear wheels and a relatively short wheelbase, can oversteer and even go around on you if you get into a corner hot and back off. It’s more important in the Lotus to be smooth and to get your braking done before the apex, then power through the turn. Going fast in either car is a rewarding experience. It takes different technique to drive a FWD car and a RWD mid-engine car near the limit, but the results are more down to driver skill than they are to the relative capabilities of the two cars.

The MINI and the Lotus Elise are very different in appearance, ergonomics, mechanical design and driving experience, yet they are both rewarding cars for the enthusiast to drive. I love them both.

  • LMB

    I want one now.:p

  • Wraith

    i worked at a lotus dealership for a few months and drove an Elise every day. it’s one of the only cars i would willingly, without hesitation trade my MINI for.

  • jarrett

    Thanks for the review, I have had no intention of buying the Lotus, but now understand why so many people are interested in it.

  • tsukiji

    Thanks for the thoughtful review.

  • tscheez

    I want one too.

  • Nice review! I might add that Jason Plato mentioned the Elise in his video review of the Cooper S a while back, comparing the Cooper S favorably to the Elise.



    Nice write up.

    I have every only been in a friends Lotus Esprit, not sure of the model year, for about 20 minutes back in about 1990. That was a major thrill. I remember the ride as being severe, acceleration unbelievable and the cockpit very noisy. I was driving a slug of a Isuzu Trooper at the time.

  • Nice write-up, John! Wish I had your garage… 😉

    I got a ride in an Elise at the Autobahn Country Club near Chicago last July with an instructor. It was an unbelievable, visceral experience, exhilarating and frightening at the same time. I got the impression that it’s a harder car to drive fast than the MINI is; the variable valve timing kicks in above 6000 or so RPM to provide the engine with the bulk of its power, and it seems to take a conscious effort to keep it on its toes. The lack of sound deadening and carpeting lets you feel and hear every nuance of the car’s interaction with the pavement, but watch out for bare calves on the transmission tunnel.

    If I could afford (and rationalize) a limited-purpose car like the Elise, I would have one in a heartbeat, and I envy their drivers. They’re sexy and fast, but the MINI is, too. I’ve got new-found respect for my little stock Cooper S, after picking off M3s and battling a Lamborghini at the track this weekend! 🙂

  • Mario

    Great writeup, thanks!

  • Vanwall

    Damn good write-up! The classic Lotus was always about light weight and steering response, and the Elise I’ve driven has shown the breeding is still there. I would love a black Elise in my garage!

             Rob in Dago

    Oh Yeah!………. :¬)

  • Arnie

    Great article John. Thanks for taking the time to say it so well. I love them both too. I have owned Mini’s/MINI for 20+ years, Loti for (30+) hmmm, I waited about 6 months for my MINI when they first came out and 4 years for my Elise 🙂 🙂 🙂 I have tracked both cars and driven midengine cars 30+ years. The Lotus (mine has the sport pack, based on the wheels yours is not) will run circles around the Mini on a race track. To your point, it is rough as hell on the street because of the short wheelbase and tight suspension. It has no creature features and is a street legal race car. No spare and 048 Yoko race/street tires w/ the sport pack. (Tyres might be good for 5,000 miles if you don’t flat spot them and are a pretty good driver) Staggered wheels 17 rear, 16 front and 1/2 wider front, if you but the Sport package (track)

    I have owned at least 2 Loti at all times and this is the ONLY Lotus I have ever owned that is completely dependable. I tracked at Autobahn the last two weekends and did nothing more than bleed the brakes (because you should) and check the tire pressure (which you run at stock street pressure 26/29 cold -that in itself is amazing.) If you want to have the time of your life, Fox Valley Motorcars will have factory drivers teach you at Autobahn in their car. A little pricey, but they import 3 Brits from the jolly ol’ factory and they also supply the car. Happens once or twice a year…

    My MINI (the ultimate utilitarian vehicle) is kinder, smoother, practical, moded to death and still does not handle like a midengine car. Once you really get to know the car, you can under or oversteer it at will. Correct and change lines when no one would dare in another car. I can rely on my MINI to go anywhere anytime with as many as 4 people. The MINI is VERY respectable and capable at 1/2 THE PRICE, the Lotus is a pure bred racer. Braking is insane in the Lotus and very good in the MINI.

    Hey John, there is an instructional day next Monday (24th) at Autobahn. Entire track, (not north or south track), Should be blazing fast. It is sponsored by Fox Valley if you are past your break in and want to see what that baby can really do. AND all you MINI owners are also welcome!!! Mini’s and Loti are good friends and have been inviting each other to play at the track. Sunday, a Lotus Exige couple from Wi also had their MINI at the event. Probably the only way to bring their stuff 😉

    To your point of practicing getting in and out, I really laughed. So true. My favorite is when the top is off. This is the kewlest. You step over the door, put your (Clean) driving shoes on the seat and slide down. The first time I saw it done that way, I couldn’t help but think, that was easy. Out is also much easier w/ the roof off… RE: the shifter being knotchier…, I had a touring car before my current Sport/Touring car. BOTH cars did the same thing for about 1500, 2000 miles and then the box breaks in very nicely and the shifts are very predictable, especially w/ the rodchange length involved w/ midengine.

    Congratulations, you have made an awesome choice for a second car. Watch your blind spots. Drivers love to sit there and gawk. I added small circle mirrors to the wing mirrors, it really helps, and looks OK too. Between the two cars, you have it all. Be fast, Be safe. Looking forward to seeing it. Cheers, Arnie

  • greg

    I have a friend who has an MCS and “had” an Elise until he totaled it on the track. He went back the next day with the Cooper and marveled at the MCS handling compared to the”best handling car in the world” went hitting the same part of the track where the Lotus wrecked.

  • Micah

    The Elise / Exige is one of the best performance cars available today at any price IMO. While I have yet to drive one, I have co-driven with Randy Webb as the pilot in his chrome orange Elise development car at one of the Mini5280 (great Mini club in the Denver/Colorado area) rallies. It was an awesome visceral experience. One section was particularly memorable because the banshee wail of the exhaust at 8000+ rpm was reverberating across the canyon walls that boxed in the twisty road – it was an incredible sound.

    With its light weight, mid-engine design, direct non-power assist steering, and Randy behind the wheel, the Elise handled better than any other car I have experienced.

    As others have expressed, I want one too! (make mine an Exige in Ardent Red or Krypton Green)

  • Rocco Rocket

    Nice write up. Which grill badge is your MINI sporting??

  • Disco Stu

    Clever vanity license plate!!

  • DesignIt

    Great write-up John. Count me in as another happy MINI & Elise owner. As you say, they are both rewarding cars to drive. As Arnie mentioned, there are blind spots on the Elise, but these can be solved with aftermarket mirrors. I installed Multivex mirrors on my Elise, and was so pleased with them I also put them on my MINI.

  • JAG

    GREG, your friend is not a good driver but a good story creative. The Elise is the best car on the track. For everyday driving we all have different opinions and needs but on the track, weight and balance (+HP) is everything, the Elise is far superior than the MINI. Lotus mission is to be closer to a racer, thus the spartan interior, while the Mini is a city car that drives well and its cutesy tending to be more on the metrosexual side (argh), but its true. I own one and there are some Hello Kitty stuff I can’t get over them. But that is another story. I am getting a Lotus, soon.

  • Siddhartha

    Great writeup and comparo, John. When I saw the leader on my RSS feed, I knew it would be you. Nice to see more pics of Phantom. I don’t own an Elise but have driven one at speed on the track a few times. Luckily, my recent experience in an open wheel rear engine formula car had prepared me for the rear weight bias of the Elise, because it handles very differently than my JCW MCS and the lines are different as well. I found it takes a lot of concentration, a sensitive foot and aggressive rowing of the gearbox to keep it on the boil. Luckily, there is an audible and physical jolt when the variable valve timing kicks in at around 6500 rpm that helps locate the beginning of the powerband without having to look at any gauges, but I recommend earplugs if you drive it up there for long. Still, I’ll have to say that the MINI is a far easier car to get into and be fast right away. If an Elise is not being driven especially well, I can run it down in my MINI. Just keep Randy and Arnie away from me!

  • mightydread

    i want one three!!!!

    blalor any track day video???


  • Shamus

    Is that a Pepper White interior I see ?!! 😉

  • History Nut

    Nice cars! But for me, the other Mini in the garage is cute and fun to drive!

  • blalor any track day video???

    Alas, no mightydread. I might have to arrange to borrow one next time (and invite the Gallardo to come back out!). The loop that keeps playing through my mind is looking in my rearview mirror and seeing this big yellow wedge getting closer (and louder) in the straights and fading in the corners. That was the only time I “drove my mirrors” the entire weekend; it had a detrimental effect on my lines, to be sure, but I had a hard time looking away!

  • DaCrema

    I love my Cooper. It makes a great every day car.

    One day I will have an Elise. I was lucky enough to drive a couple of Elise cars at an autocross like event set up by the local dealership in the parking lot at FedEx in Maryland near Washington DC. One car had the standard suspension the second had LSS. Both cars were a blast to drive despite the hard rain. If you go to the Criswell web site ( there are pictures of the event. The cars were a very tight fit and being short (I am 5’6″) makes getting in and out much easier.

  • Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate the additional insights some have added. I am still working on break-in miles on the Elise, but I have driven one on the track. I agree with the comments above about feeling every nuance of the road, needing a lot of concentration to drive the Elise fast and a MINI being easier to get into and go fast. These probably should have been included more prominently in my write-up.

    I have ridden with Randy in a MINI and can imagine what it is like riding with him in an Elise, especially since the last time I talked with him he was in the middle of installing a turbo in his. I admit to having a lot still to learn before I can get the most out of either the MINI or the Lotus.

    FYI, regarding the comment above from History Nut, that’s my wife and the owner of the CR/W MC that shares the garage with the two cars pictured in the article. She loves her MINI too.

  • Jim Harris

    I have a ZO6 to go with my MCS, and people think I’m extravagant.

  • tony T

    nice. very nice.

    you can also buy an exige with a supercharger here now – do you get them in the states?

  • Once more John…AKA: CarNut has given us a fine review. I doubt that I will ever see much less drive an Elise, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the review. Why, you wonder? I still am discovering the power and joy of my recently purchased 2006 MCS w/JCW Air Filter. Although I would love to take a bit farther, I do believe this is far enough. Enjoy your new toy John and thanks again for your site and help!!!!


    20 years……………..

  • greg

    I have driven the Elise and the point of practicing getting in and out is well put. I couldn’t do either without being a buffoon. Plus you become a simese twin with a passenger. I went with a Z-4 instead which is now gone and I have a Porsche Cayman S on order with ALL the performance options. Now THAT’S a car of a different breed.

  • Absorbine_Sr

    I have not driven the Elise, but I am familiar with that engine – it is sourced from Toyota and is actually the same basic unit as that in our 2003 Matrix XRS. It is a nice engine, though as stated by blalor and others, requires a fair amount of work to keep it in the power band. Now, carve 1000 lbs off of the Matrix, lower it about 3″, get rid of the cargo space…. and you’d still have nothing like the Elise. : )

    I love my JCW, but I still lust after the Elise. If I wasn’t in Chicago, and lacking a garage, I might be looking for a loan now…


  • I nearly purchased a Lotus Elise then the Exige…

    There were a few issues that caused me to NOT buy them.

    Daily Driver – NO WAY. The comfort ONCE IN the Lotus, as snug as it is, and as comfortable as it is… the entry and exit of the car are not. I could not see myself falling in and out of that car daily.

    Driving it is fun, almost tooo fun. It’s real easy to break the law without realizing you’ve done so. Some may consider that a plus…. I don’t.

    If this were to be my 3rd or 4th car, I’d have gotten one. The Kick in after 6400rpm is nice.

    The prices are PERFECT for the cars.

    The Exige is not a daily driver, it’s actually a poor performer in comparison to the Elise while put in daily conditions. There are safety factors that plague the Exige so far as, let’s say… driving in traffic. Not the Car it’self but the ability to see others in time to maneuver out of trouble.

    The aero upgrades offer 100lbs of downforce at OVER 100MPH. You can mod an Elise in the same manner for less. This thought came from a Multi Lotus owner who was there picking up his 2nd Exige and his 4th Elise the same day I was there. Had a long discussion while they prepped his cars. He said the Exige’s are to satisfy his team, the Elise’s were to win. Go Figure.

    So, I chose not to get either… Despite the dealership marking the Elise down nearly $8k off the sticker just to get me in it. It was a 2005 model with no miles… The color kept it on the lot… Orange.

  • Ken (WingNut)

    As thorough as I’d expect from you John, nice write up.

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but John has a dandy forum too (CarNut’s Garage) and is very helpful with all MINI matters. Go check it out!


    PS I knew this you when this article was mentioned on WRR, neato…

  • Siddhartha

    “I have a Porsche Cayman S on order with ALL the performance options. Now THAT’S a car of a different breed.”

    Nah, I’ve driven it on the track. It’s just a Boxster on steroids, with all the Boxster problems (although it IS prettier). Make sure you tighten the nut behind the wheel before driving it in earnest, lest you end up like the unfortunate Elise owner referenced above. It will come around on you in a big hurry if you haven’t taken your brave pills and lift in a corner. BTW, PCA offers good driver training.

  • …thank you,John for the story. Oh…how I dream of the day when the divorce is final,and I can then have the cash to get a Lotus Elise to add with my PW MC.

  • Donna (queenB)

    Great job on the comparison, John. We recently discussed what would leave our garage if we had to make a choice, MINI, Mini or Lotus. After thinking about we realized the choice was obvious……get rid of the pick up truck.

  • Timothy

    When do we get the Morgan review? I saw one a few days ago. It was turning left but had to wait while I was crossing the street in the crosswalk. It had to wait a little longer for me to raise my jaw. 🙂

  • As soon as an owner sends one in or I steal one… which ever comes first 😉

  • fdavid

    Very nice writeup! This brings to question. Is there a lot of 911 owners who also drive minis? I want a 911 but I live in NYC and can’t see myself driving such a beauty in this conditions. I don’t like much the Elise, perhaps I am still atracted to the older LOTUS. Nice cars though. PS: And I love the new image display interface on the motoringfile website Gabe! good job.

  • Great write up – the car which Lotus produced for the American market sounds amazing – it has ABS and a faster Toyota engine – revised bodykit etc. Strangely we can get this car in the UK for a bargain price of £29,000 and nothing will touch it for the money. However the old standard Elise which has nothing and an old Rover engine can still be purchased for £22,500 (not specced up)in the UK for a short while – total bargain although everyone still correctly goes for the US version (it is everything the standard car should have been).

    John – I love the spec of your Elise the colours make the car look just plain sinister – they really suit the car!

  • mtbscott

    Back last fall before I ordered my MCS, I toyed with the idea of trading in my E46 M3 for an Elise. Drove both standard and Sportpack cars, just couldn’t rationalize as a primary car (primary for me due to price.) Needs changed and I currently have an Audi A3 2.0 for “practical” purposes and my MINI for fun, but the idea of a Lotus for toy is always in the back of my mind. I imagine in a few years the price for a used one will be within reach for that purpose and it should be pretty durable by English car standards.

  • Edge

    Great review, John… although I’d be very curious to hear your updated opinion after driving a 2005 or 2006 MCS, with the revised gearing. I doubt it would change the review a whole lot… but it would be a worthwhile update, I think. 🙂

  • Frank

    I think the Elise/Exige are fantastic track cars (Which is they real intended purpose in life) and terrible everyday vehicles for most every other situation that involves carrying more than 2-3 grocery bags, more than 2 passengers and having to enter/exit the high and wide door sill.

    I enjoyed the review and still be amazed as how to seemingly different cars share so many similar traits in terms of handling dynamics, performance and grin factor.

    Someday I would like to experience the “thrills” of Lotus ownership, but right now a 3rd vehicle upwards of $45K and a 2 seater are totally and completely out of the realm of possibilities. I am happy to own 2 MINIs and that satisfies my motoring craving day in and day out.

    Lotus just showed in Geneva the upcoming Europa S which is basically an Exige with a few inches longer wheelbase, lower easier to access door sills and an Opel outsourced 2.0L turbocharged four instead of the Elise/Exige 1.8L Toyota powerplant. It seems to me the Europa S is the daily driver version of the Elise/Exige. There are no plans for US importation and some will find certain styling details a bit questionnable.

  • Dr Bo

    Anyone driven – or own – the Ariel Atom?

  • Dr Bo – my dad’s mate races an Ariel Atom at the Knockhill race circuit in Scotland – absolutely wild machine. The guy who owns it absolutely loves it and reckons it is the best thing he has ever driven, although, for obvious reasons he never drives it on public roads.

  • Jan

    Its eerie how many Elise drivers also own a Mini :-). Found your review very interesting, I always wondered how a “sorted” MCS would compare to an Elise. I love my MC to bits, although handlingwise it´s just not comparable to the Elise; I just think of it as a nice sporty(-ish) runabout. Mind you, I am comparing an unmodded 2003 MC and a mooded to death, very light (1540 lbs) 1997 S1 Elise (with 170 bhp), thus widening the gap between the cars…

  • I have a 06 elise I find third gear notchy and the tranny whines the dealer said not to worry it is common in these cars wait for a recall has anybody had this problem.other than that i love the car fairly quck and very nimble. Ron

  • I have a 06 elise I find third gear notchy and the tranny whines the dealer said not to worry it is common in these cars wait for a recall has anybody had this problem.other than that i love the car fairly quick and very nimble. Ron

  • abdelaziz

    i like the way u compared these cars, specially that i love the mcs works and the elise, both r indeed very fun, fast thrillig to drive, altaugh i think the elise in performance is better than the mcs works, but the mcs is more suitable in a city, and i am right now between buying one of them, i just d.k what to choose!!

  • mark

    I love lotus’s but can’t really justify one, so I am building up my cooper and using the elise as a guideline. I’m using the ideas of being quick and responsive rather then just pure horsepower.

  • andrew

    rented the lotus in los angeles for a day while getting some stuff done to my mcs jcw. uhh i’m 6’4″ getting in and out of that lotus was unbearable. even my girlfriend 5’8″ also had the hardest time. impractical car and has too much bark but very little bite compared to the jcw. getting back into the jcw felt sooo nice. sorry but the lotus did not impress me actually it did quite the opposite!!!!

  • Tony

    Quite enjoyed you article. Proud Owner of a highly modified 2004 MCS and a 2005 Elise(#62) myself! Love them both and yes, they are radically different. Would love to see more torque in the Elise. I take the MCS to the Lotus dealer sponsored track days (take the Elise too) and get a lot of positive comments about the MINI. It holds it’s own on the straights and it’s very good in the corners (after massive brake upgrade and tons of HP and suspension add-ons). Can’t stay with the Elises in the tight twisties, but everyone loves the whining and willing supercharger.

    Even at 6′ 4″, 235# I find them both relatively comfortable (in 2 hour chunks)! My wife drove the Elise to work everyday for the first 18 months we owned it and loved it (high heeled, skirt-type….yes, I am lucky). You’ve got to have the DESIRE to drive the car to make the commitment to climb in and out, but it can be done and is so worth the effort. I’ve found more than one MINI owner who have driven Elises for very short periods that just don’t get it (the Elise). My feeling is they never learned to drive the Elise well. It’s not great fun if you just test drove one in a downtown area and don’t learn the entry/exit tricks. Also, due to its lack of torque, it seems wimpy at first, but once you learn how and where to push, woo-hoo!! NO comparison in the same price range.

    Still have my 69 Elan (in the family since new) and my 59 Bugeye Sprite. Pretty good represenation of light and nimble across multiple decades, I think.

    Thanks for the article!
    Tonywa28 on EliseTalk 06 IS350 05 Elise 04 MCS 69 Elan S4SE 59 AH Bugeye

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  • I love the Lotus Elise and will buy one once I get my Pharm. D. Degree and start making enough money.

  • bluezzy

    saving up my pennys and nickles… by gosh I’m gonna have an Elise in a few years and thats the end of it!!

  • Tom

    Great review, I have a mini cooper and a VX220 Turbo (240bhp) (basically an elise) and can agree very much. 🙂

    The principles are very similar; small, lightweight and fun 😀