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All-New Elise on Horizon  vs Mazda MX-5 and Boxter

The Lotus Elise has been one of the finest two-seat roadsters on the market since first being released in 1996. Year after year, Lotus consistently finds a way to deliver the right combination of style and raw power in cars that lead the class. The company is hoping, as am I, that the 2015 version of the Elise is everything previous editions were. Lotus is in the midst of a complete overhaul of their entire line, the Elise included.

Paris was lucky enough to get the first shot at seeing the new Elise as a concept car at the 2010 show. However, Lotus has done a good job of keeping a lid on the final product over the last four years. What eventually hits showroom floors later this year resembles the concept model in some ways, but is completely different in others.

The most familiar component of the Elise series, its Lotus-managed Toyota engine, provides the speed and acceleration Elise fans have come to love. The base model starts with a 1.6L engine, while the S and Cup classes have a 1.8L. The original concept car shown in 2010 sported a 2.0L engine capable of top speeds of 170 mph, but I can live with a slightly smaller engine and top speed of 140 mph with either the 1.6 or 1.8L engines.

Lotus elected for a new chassis platform for 2015. As for the body, the new Elise retains the classic look with just a hint of the future. Personally, I'm thankful designers did not stick with the image presented at the 2010 Paris show. That concept car looked less like an Elise and more like something Luke Skywalker would drive in the midst of a mid-life crisis. We Elise fans appreciate the sporty look of the classic roadsters of the past; we have no desire to see our beloved cars turned into spaceships.

The 2015 Elise should do very well as a mid-range two-seater. But how will a do against the competition? Its two main rivals for 2015 appear to be the Mazda MX5 and the Porsche Boxster Spyder

Mazda MX5

Mazda isn't messing around with the 2015 version of the MX5. For 25 years, the car has been among the most desirable roadsters on the market, and Mazda intends to keep it that way. Their 2015 edition is shorter, wider, lower to the ground, and considerably less weighty. All of this means higher top speeds and better acceleration. Mazda has the edge over Elise at price points: the MX5 debuts around £20,000 while the Elise starts at about £35,000. That said, the one thing I don't like about the MX5 is the body style. It looks less like a sporty roadster and more like a convertible family sedan without the back seat.


Porsche Boxster Spyder

The Porsche Boxster has not seen any major changes since 2012, so it's nice to see Germany's premier car manufacturer do something exciting in 2015. The Boxster sports a 3.8L engine capable of a top speed of 180 mph and 0 to 60 mph in just over 4 seconds. A newly designed suspension helps the driver keep all of that power under control. New cowls, fascias, and an upgraded interior make it clear the 2015 Boxster is a new generation of roadster. It starts at about £82,000.

I personally prefer the Lotus Elise on many levels. It has the exceptional power and styling to compete with the Mazda MX5 and a price tag half of what I would pay for a Porsche Boxster. But it's more than that. The Elise is a unique and personal roadster; it really has no rivals. You have to drive one to truly understand. And now that the 2015 Elise is on the horizon, you should make every effort to do so.


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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 14 May 2015