It’s getting way too easy to be cynical these days whenever Lotus makes an announcement about a new car – but this time it’s not some botox-infused New Era model, instead it’s our old favourite – the Elise – which some critics had begun to think the company had forgotten.

Mindful of all those doubters, Lotus have chosen to showcase its “performance through lightweight” philosophy by cooking up the new 1.6 Lotus Elise Club Racer. It’s worth bearing in mind just how light the Elise is in the first place, in order to put the 24.96 kg weight saving into some perspective.

With an unladen weight of 852 kg the Elise Club Racer has lost just over 2.73% from the base Elise’s 876 kg. That might not sound like much, but the steps taken by Lotus’ engineers show plenty of diligence in achieving their goal.

The engineers behind the Elise Club Racer took a stripped-to-the-bare-bone approach, adding lightness by using a shower cape instead the proper soft-top roof and deleting non-essential elements such as noise insulation. Attention to even the smallest of details has ensured that Lotus’ passion for performance through lightweight has been translated throughout the car.

Item Weight Saving (kg)
Lightweight Equipment:  
Lightweight battery saving 5.4kg
Rear ‘LOTUS’ decal instead of the 3D ‘LOTUS’ badge saving 60g
No soft top fitted (available as an option) but ASO shower cape saving 5.9kg
Deleted component weight savings:  
Central locking saving 0.3kg
radio and speakers saving 4kg
Noise insulation and carpets saving 4.5kg
Passenger Footrest saving 0.2kg
Mud flaps saving 0.6kg
Drivers and Passenger Airbag saving 4kg
Total including lightweight and deleted components saving 24.96 kg

But will this be the last truly lightweight Lotus? Wolf Zimmermann Chief Technical Officer Lotus Cars side-steps the question in his response, “The traditional Lotus approach of reduction and purity has lead to one of the most zeitgeist and contemporary sports cars around. For over 15 years the Lotus Elise has become an icon in the sports car market, carving out a niche market with a dedicated following of lightweight fans. The new Club Racer will definitely give these people something extra to get their teeth stuck into. This car epitomises everything that’s cool about the Elise – it’s fast, raw, responsive and a huge amount of fun to drive.”

I’m not sure Lotus’ core fan base will be entirely reassured by seeing their beloved Norfolk sportscar defined by the German term zeitgeist, especially since if translated literally means the ghost of time…

The Elise Club Racer is available, for the first time on an Elise, with a Sport setting for the DPM (Dynamic Performance Management) – but what’s DPM doing being fitted to what is supposed to be a raw purist version of the Elise? An adjustable anti-roll bar plus Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers are used to finely tune the Club Racer for both road and track day fun.

Customers can choose from six striking colours (Sky Blue, Saffron Yellow, Ardent Red, Aspen White, Matt Black and Carbon Grey) and bespoke design elements that emphasise the character of the car. At £27,500 (€34,450) the Elise Club Racer becomes the new entry level model for Lotus, but will it also be the last TRUE Lotus?

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