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Lotus Elise Cup 260: Going For Gold (Literally)

How many different versions of the Elise can Lotus make? Just one more would seem to be the answer and, like its stablemates, the Lotus Elise Cup 260 is an amazing little car worthy of the company name in every respect. The Elise Cup 260 is like an already sharp knife honed even further, making for a very impressive car in all respects . . . except for that (thankfully) optional color of Championship Gold.

The Championship Gold is in honor of the 70th anniversary of Lotus.

Good Intentions

Lotus, or more specifically, company founder Colin Chapman had this thing for the color gold. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but gold is a terribly hard color to get right, especially on cars. Look no further than our subject here, the Lotus Elise Cup 260. I know, you want it to look like the precious metal, you want the paint on the car to look like the ring on your finger, but it never does work out that way, does it? Sadly, no. Cars painted gold, and this goes for the Elise Cup 260 as well, always end up looking beige from one angle, or dull light brown from another. So, sigh.

But other than that, the Lotus Elise Cup 260 is as “hubba-hubba” as any car the Hethel concern has ever rolled out.

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“Each and every one of the sports cars produced by Group Lotus today carries the true spirit of Lotus, laid down by my father nearly 70 years ago,” explained Clive Chapman, Director of Classic Team Lotus. “I am extremely proud that his legacy and achievements are being acknowledged and celebrated in this iconic version of the Elise.” Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Gold Standard

Billed as the “ultimate Elise,” Lotus has the specs and the pace to back that up. With just 30 examples being for sale worldwide, the race-car derived ultimate Elise has an aero package that can generate nearly 400 pounds of downforce – which is considerable on a car that only weighs 1,900 lbs. All that lightweight comes from the profligate use of carbon fiber. All the aero gains, chassis tuning, and the like are put to good use thanks to a 250 horsepower, supercharged engine. That adds up to a 0 to 60 sprint of 3.8 seconds, a top speed of 151 mph, and a track time 2.5 seconds faster than the Elise Cup 250.

The 260 has a lot of the same styling elements found on the Elise Sport and Sprint models, along with bits and pieces and cues from the Evora GT 430. Such things include the louvered front wheel arch vents and an oversized rear wing, permitting greater grip levels and higher cornering speeds. And since this is a Lotus, the aforementioned weight savings are everywhere on the Elise Cup 260. The large rear wing is carbon fiber (of course), as is the front access panel, the engine cover, the roll hoop cover, and the side sill covers which total up to a savings of nearly 14 pounds. Weight is further trimmed thanks to light, two-piece brake discs, lightweight carbon race seats, a Lithium-Ion battery, lightweight forged alloy wheels, and a polycarbonate rear window.

All this featherweight goodness is sped down the lane by an all-alloy, intercooled and supercharged 1.8-liter engine with new induction components and revised calibration. Cranking out 250 horsepower and 188 lb-ft. of torque, the plant is mated to a six-speed manual (of course) gearbox.

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The Elise Cup 260 is 33 lbs. lighter than the Elise Cup 250 at 1,988 lbs. Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Suspension & Braking

The Elise Cup 260 features a fully independent double wishbone suspension with an adjustable front anti-roll bar. The springs are Nitron coaxial coil units paired with adjustable Nitron shocks. The shocks have 24 settings for rebound and compression, which should keep you track-heads busy. The new wheels I mentioned are ultra-lightweight motorsport forged numbers: 16-inches at the front and 17-inches out back, and fitted with Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R tires (205/45 R16 front and 235/40 R17 rear).

Braking is a rather curious affair with a mixed set up: AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembos at the rear clamping down on those lightweight, two-piece brake discs.

Interior Treatments

The interior leans more toward the Spartan, as you would expect, but is still more comfortable than a full-blown race car. The carbon race seats, trimmed in black Alcantara with contrasting red or yellow stitching, are manufactured in-house by Lotus, and that carbon fiber treatment is echoed by the door panels and face-level vents. There are also color inserts that are keyed to the bodywork’s tint found on the seats, transmission console, HVAC surround, and window switches. The car’s hand-built character even extends to the lovely, detailed, manual gearbox’s open gate mechanism that provides precise, direct gear changes and quicker shifting.

You have some options for the inside, such as Alcantara-trimmed steering wheels and sill covers, leather or tartan trim packs for the seats or door panels, and an entertainment system with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth functionality.

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Photo: Group Lotus plc.

Pricing & Availability

So how much? Curiously, although Lotus gives prices for the home market, Germany and France, they don’t mention a U.S. price. The British price is £59,500, which translates to over $79,000 in American money. Which, if you’re looking for a comparison, puts it more or less between the two Corvette models Chevy makes.

To me, this sounds like a reasonable price, but I’m funny that way. If I were you, I’d buy one, but just get it painted in something other than gold. The Lotus Elise Cup 260, despite the limited numbers, is available now.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias toward lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Group Lotus plc.