US Lotus Elise launched at the LA Motor Show

The US Lotus Elise (aka the Federal Elise) has at long last been officially launched at the LA Auto Show. Since there’s still no sign of MG selling cars directly in the US, this is as much as we’ll see of Brit sports cars this side of the pond for the time being. So it’s something to shout about. Just think – you can head down to the one of the lucky dealerships chosen to sell this car and order this puppy right now! NICE!

The car seems to have appeared in the press a lot, even before last weeks launch, and after it’s success in Europe, it should be a breath of fresh air from all those SUV’s and petrol guzzling monsters I see so much of here!

So what’s different about this Elise than it’s Brit cousin? First off is the specially tuned Toyota 2ZZ-GE 1.8L 4cyl 16-valve w/VVTL-i engine. Reviews of this engine when it first appeared in the Celica and Corolla are pretty dire, but Lotus have tuned this baby up, and with the lightweight body of the Elise, it should make for a more exciting ride than with the old K-Series VVC Engine. Lotus promises increased low end torque for greater acceleration from low engine speeds, before unleashing the full 190hp at the higher end of the rev range. It also has a different gearbox, namely the all-aluminum Toyota C64 six-speed manual gearbox. Brakes will include AP Racing twin-piston aluminum front brake calipers on the front, and Brembo single-piston brake calipers on the rear. ABS, Air Conditioning, Climate Control and Twin airbags are also available.And also a very a cool “START” button for the Engine (photo) 🙂

So, what does it look like? Here’s some photos from the launch:

Photos from Dan Medina at EliseTalk.com
Photos from PistonHeads.com
Photos from Golden Gate Lotus Club

First odd thing are those reflectors in front of the front wheel and behind the rear wheel – I guess that is something that the US insists upon. Just look at them in this pic. Yuk 🙁 It’s a bit Max Power methinks, and looks like a bit of an afterthought add-on.

But do check out the very nice alloy wheel included in the Sports Pack Now that looks smart!

The interior of the car looks pretty nice – and I like the way they’ve put the climate control and stereo unit together in the center (as opposed to the sides in the UK version).

So how much is it, and what are the options? The base model comes in at $39,985. Given that the exchange rate is currently $1.84 to the British Pound, that puts it as GBP21,703.98 Wow! That’s a saving of around GBP4,000 over the UK Elise S – which don’t forget doesn’t have the uprated engine, ABS, A/C, etc. Very nice indeed!

There are going to be 3 different versions to chose from – Base, Touring and Sport. Here’s the info:

Base car: $39,985

175/55R16, 225/45R17 Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 LTS tires (designed specifically for the Elise)
Bilstein monotube gas shock absorbers
AP Racing twin-piston aluminum front brake calipers
Brembo single-piston rear brake calipers
ABS

Touring package: + $1,350

Full leather seating
Electric windows and full carpets
Upgraded Blaupunkt stereo w/MP3 player
Interior stowage net and additional sound deadening
Double insulated (thermal & sound) soft top

Sport package: + $2,490

7 spoke forged wheels (lightest available – 1 inch wider fronts)
Yokohama A048LTS tires. The softer Yokohama tires should improve 0-60 times by 0.2 seconds.
Adjustable dampers and springs with adjustable ride height

Other options include Hardtop: $1,475 (body color). All cars come with a 3-yr/36,000 mile warranty.

Performance is nice – 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, Top speed approximately 150 mph, Estimated fuel mileage: 30 mpg.

All in all, it looks to be a very nice car and with only 2000 of these cars going to hit the US each year, you’d better head out early to catch one! In Manhattan, you can get one from Manhattan Motorcars according to this NY Post article.

In the absence of any MG imports at this time, and if you’re after a distinctively different sports car, go test drive the Federal Elise today!

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