Lotus first showed the updated styling of the 2011 Elise model at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, but now the company has released some big powertrain changes and impressive new fuel economy numbers. Gone is the old 1.8-liter 4-cylinder in favor of a 1ZR-FAE 1.6-liter Toyota engine with Valvematic and Dual VVT-I. It makes 134-hp and 118 ft-lbs of torque and when paired to a six-speed manual transmission can hit 62-mph in 6.5 seconds – due mostly to the car’s incredibly low curb weight of just 1,930 lbs..
Thanks to the new engine, light weight and some aerodynamic tweaks for 2011, Lotus claims the new Elise can get 56.1 mpg (46.7 mpg U.S.). That number, however, is on the European test cycle, which is far more generous than the EPA numbers here in the U.S. And with just 149 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, Lotus claims the new Elise is the least polluting gasoline sports car in the world.
We’ve contacted Lotus Cars USA to see if the North American Elise will also be getting the new, smaller 1.6-liter engine and will report back as soon as we know.
[*UPDATE*] According to Lotus Cars USA PR Head Kevin Smith the North American-spec Elise will continue to use the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder in the 2010 model [*UPDATE*]