Which car should I buy? Alpine A110 Pure v Lotus Elise Sport 240 F.E.

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“ARE THERE ANY MORE SATISFYING DRIVER’S CARS FOR AROUND $100K THAN THE ALPINE A110 AND THE LOTUS ELISE? I’M SERIOUSLY INTERESTED, BUT WONDER IF THEY’D DRIVE ME NUTS IF I HAD TO DRIVE THEM ON A FAIRLY REGULAR BASIS.”
-LANCE J.

Interesting dilemma, this one. The only other car that could match these two in terms of dynamic fidelity in this price bracket would be a Caterham, but that’s a whole other level of dedication. We prefer the smaller-wheeled Pure version of the A110, as given the essence of this car is its suppleness and flow, the additional sidewall width giving it a beautiful ranginess that works really well on Aussie roads. 

Also, the Pure’s $97K asking price bunts it right into the crosshairs of the $98K Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition. The Elise is an intriguing one, and as a run-out version it benefits from a few nice touches like TFT instruments and marginally better access in and out of the car. There are also a few tempting options that might interest you. The carbon-fibre sill covers and engine cover, lithium-ion battery plus a polycarbonate rear window are popular, dropping the Sport 240’s weight from 922kg to 898kg. A GPS-based track data system can be also optioned, which saves you faffing with a data logger on track days. 

Of the two, I’d probably lean towards the auto Alpine if you plan on using it more frequently, if only because it’s a more practical proposition and offers superior refinement when you’re not at maximum attack. As a weekend car, the manual Lotus is hard to argue against, with better steering and a more charismatic power delivery.

Given that Lotus plans a new model revolution, you may well need to get in fast. The Elise is the most successful model line in Lotus’ history, and with very good reason. – AE

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