Another apparently harsh score but, again, only half the story. The wide, boxy sills key to the Elise’s clever construction mean it’s very hard to get in and out gracefully, especially with the roof in place. And there is no escaping the fact those of a fuller frame are going to find it a bit of a squeeze, while you’ll find yourself on unavoidably intimate terms with your passenger given how close the seats are to each other. The obsession with weight saving means lots of bare metal, to the point where scraps of carpet trim on the sills seem almost decadent. The minimal seats meanwhile look about as comfortable as the scalpel-like saddles seen on racing bicycles and the non-assisted steering is pretty heavy at parking speeds. The boot is accessed via the engine cover and its shape demands you pack in smaller, squashy bags rather than expect to carry big suitcases. It also gets pretty hot in there, so watch out if you’re carrying perishables. Pack light and there’s room for a weekend away, though.
Assuming you fit in it, though, the Elise is actually a pretty comfortable place to spend time. There might not be much padding but the seats are incredibly supportive, the low-slung driving position is perfect and the sensation of the car being shrink-wrapped around you is what makes the driving experience such a thrill. Forward visibility is excellent, too, giving you confidence to place the car precisely on the road and helping your spatial awareness no end. Most impressive, though, is the way the suspension seems to glide over even seriously bumpy backroads, while also feeling incredibly precise, accurate and tied down. This has long been a unique Lotus selling point and is another virtue of the lack of weight – the only other car that manages the same trick is the Alpine A110, which has a similar obsession with weight saving but is a much more modern design and manages to keep a lot of the creature comforts the Lotus does without. Even the Alpine can’t quite match the Elise’s unique sense of agility, though.