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The Lotus Elise S3
November 2006Is the S3 Elise any closer? I don't think so, not the way I define S3. Lotus desperately need to get the Esprit out and even this is delayed for another year or two. Don't hold your breath!
8th September 2003Lotus have announced that the Toyota 2ZZ-GE 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 16-valve engine with Variable Valve Timing and Lift-Intelligent (VVTL-i) system has been chosen for the US federalised Elise. This will be mated to a six-speed gearbox and tuned by Lotus specifically for the U.S. Elise to produce around 190hp. This US Elise is due in about 9 months time. It's also confirmed that the US Elise is going to weigh around 900kg.
To get some in-life experience of this engine and to reduce potential launch issues and associated legal problems in the US, Lotus Cars are going to offer the same engine in the new Exige S2, due to be launched at the Geneva motorshow in 2004.
This engine is bound to come to the UK in an Elise but will it be an S3 or an updated S2 Elise?
May 2003EVO Magazine claim the S3 will be shown at the Geneva motorshow in Feb 2004. Apparently it's going to use some of the Aston Martin technology and move the chassis on a bit and make it more modular (shared between models). As expected there will be two verisons, one fro Europe and another for the USA. The Toyota 4-pot still seems favourite to power it but there are still rumours of a V6. Either way it will feature Lotus tuning and expect >200bhp and a heavier car than the outgoing model.
February 2003If you believe the rumour published in EVO Magazine this month, Lotus are investigating Toyota's VVTi four-cyclinder engine for use in the S3. This engine is already homologated for US use and is quite free-reving but not very torquey. It also weighs more than the K-series.
January 2003Various on-line journals and magazines report that Engine Developments have announced an onward development of the K-series as developed by MG Rover, Powertrain Limited. This 2-litre version, which is currently referred to as the K2000 is claimed to be targetted at motorsport applications.
Personally, I'm not convinced. The K-series has been pushed as far as it can reliably go in boring it out from 1.4 litres to the current 1.8 litres. The basic design simply won't get to 2.0 litres without serious compromises. Realistically a completely new design with a larger block is required to obtain a 2 litre engine with the right characteristics for a performance car.
December 2002The S3 is still little more than a well qualified rumour. The fact that it will arrive is inevitable though, since the K-series engine does not meet European emmission regulations in 2004. The S3 may well be an S2 with a new engine but my money is on a slighly longer chassis to accomodate a larger engine and I'm simply praying that Lotus Cars take the opportunity to re-work the bodywork and produce another car with real British sports car beauty and another timeless classic, like the S1 Elise.
There are plenty of rumours about the S3 engine. Since Lotus are owned by Proton and they have just developed a new engine, my money is on this making it's way into the S3. Lotus Cars are a small outfit and they have to use a mainstream engine. As much as they would like to build a unique engine for a unique car, they simply can't afford to do it. Lotus are also known to be looking at a 200bhp, four cyclinder Toyota engine but internal politics may mean this rather desirable unit is passed by. Some magazines (e.g. Autocar) are convinced a V6 will make it into the Elise this year.
Either way, Lotus typically announce new models at the Geneva 2003 motorshow (March 2003) but it may be as far out as the UK Motorshow (October 2003).
The existince of the S3 is given further weight by an official announcement about the US bound, S3 Elise variant.
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Copyright © Rob Collingridge 2009 - Last updated 15 Nov 2006