2008 Lotus Elise

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(5.0) 3 reviews
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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
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Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2008 Lotus Elise. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Handling
  • Racing heritage
  • Performance
  • Gas mileage

The Bad

  • Seating space
  • Ride comfort
  • Cargo room
  • Sparse cabin

Notable Features of the 2008 Lotus Elise

  • Lotus-tuned 190-hp four-cylinder
  • Available 220-hp supercharged Elise SC
  • Six-speed manual
  • Removable hardtop available

2008 Lotus Elise Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
For 2008, the Lotus Elise gets revised gauges and a few new accessories, as well as a limited-run California Special Edition and supercharged 220-horsepower Elise SC version. The Elise is a compact, lightweight sports car meant for track driving. As such, its competitors generally boast more comfort but fewer at-the-limits performance attributes.

LED taillamps are standard, and the air conditioning system can be deleted to save weight. Traction control and a limited-slip differential are optional. Lotus also builds the Exige S coupe, which shares platforms with the Elise.

Based in Norfolk, England, Lotus was founded in 1952 by Colin Chapman. Group Lotus has a formidable reputation for engineering innovation and racing victories.


Exterior
Countless cars are described as "aggressive," but the Elise truly looks the part, with its huge air intakes behind the doors, long sloped headlight covers and ground-hugging stance.

Lotus says the Elise was the first production car to have a bonded, extruded aluminum chassis; it weighs just 150 pounds. Composite body panels are used, and the entire car weighs slightly less than 2,000 pounds — about 300 pounds less than a Toyota Yaris hatchback. A black cloth top is standard, and a body-colored hardtop can be installed.

The coil-spring suspension can be optionally equipped with Bilstein shock absorbers. Standard eight-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold Yokohama tires that measure P175/55R16 in the front and P225/45R17 in the rea...
Vehicle Overview
For 2008, the Lotus Elise gets revised gauges and a few new accessories, as well as a limited-run California Special Edition and supercharged 220-horsepower Elise SC version. The Elise is a compact, lightweight sports car meant for track driving. As such, its competitors generally boast more comfort but fewer at-the-limits performance attributes.

LED taillamps are standard, and the air conditioning system can be deleted to save weight. Traction control and a limited-slip differential are optional. Lotus also builds the Exige S coupe, which shares platforms with the Elise.

Based in Norfolk, England, Lotus was founded in 1952 by Colin Chapman. Group Lotus has a formidable reputation for engineering innovation and racing victories.


Exterior
Countless cars are described as "aggressive," but the Elise truly looks the part, with its huge air intakes behind the doors, long sloped headlight covers and ground-hugging stance.

Lotus says the Elise was the first production car to have a bonded, extruded aluminum chassis; it weighs just 150 pounds. Composite body panels are used, and the entire car weighs slightly less than 2,000 pounds — about 300 pounds less than a Toyota Yaris hatchback. A black cloth top is standard, and a body-colored hardtop can be installed.

The coil-spring suspension can be optionally equipped with Bilstein shock absorbers. Standard eight-spoke cast-aluminum wheels hold Yokohama tires that measure P175/55R16 in the front and P225/45R17 in the rear. An optional Sport Package adds wider front tires and lighter wheels (56.2 pounds for all four, versus 70.4 pounds with the standard wheels). AP Racing supplies the twin-piston front brake calipers, while Brembo provides the single-piston rear calipers. All four discs are cross-drilled to resist brake fade. The optional Track Pack includes an adjustable track suspension and an adjustable front anti-roll bar.

California Special Editions look a bit more upscale, with a silver-painted grille, body-colored air inlets and new wheels. They come in red or yellow, with a matching hardtop. Fifty such models are planned for the U.S. market.


Interior
Two occupants fit in composite sport seats. An aluminum gearshift knob and handbrake sleeve help keep the Elise's weight down and complement the aluminum chassis. The driver faces a leather-trimmed Momo steering wheel, and the backlit gauges have been revised for 2008 to incorporate an LCD screen that displays essential vehicle information. Air conditioning, a CD stereo and power door locks are standard. A starter button fires the engine, and an immobilizer alarm is installed.

The optional Touring Pack includes full-leather seating, power windows, an upgraded stereo and a double-insulated fabric top. The California Special Edition includes all that along with two-tone leather, a custom shift knob and extended carpets.


Under the Hood
The Elise has a Lotus-tuned 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that incorporates variable cam timing and lift technology — most VVT engines vary the timing only — to produce 190 hp. Peak horsepower is achieved at 7,800 rpm, and the engine delivers 138 pounds-feet of torque at 6,800 rpm. A C64 six-speed manual gearbox is supplied by Toyota, and Lotus engineers designed its shift linkage mechanism. The drivetrain powers both the regular Elise and the California Special Edition.

The Elise SC's supercharged engine makes 218 hp at 7,800 rpm and 153 pounds-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm. Lotus says the Elise SC will sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, compared to about 4.9 seconds for the Elise. Gas mileage is in the low 20s, which is much better than you'd expect for a car this quick.


Safety
Dual front airbags and antilock brakes are standard. By an industry-wide federal mandate, a tire pressure monitoring system is now standard.


Latest 2008 Elise Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(5.0)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Fantastic British Sports Car

by narcospeed from Huntsville, AL on September 29, 2018

This car is exactly what I had imagined it to be. I had wanted one since high school, and I was finally able to purchase one myself. The car was exactly as expected--tight corners, stiff yet compliant ... Read full review

(5.0)

Purest driving experience ever

by Inlovewithlotus from Macon, GA on May 16, 2018

Stunning looks. Razor sharp steering. Exhaust sound that is intoxicating. Clean crisp shifts. Entry and exiting the car is a challenge. It is point A to point A car. I purchased this purely for the ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2008 Lotus Elise currently has 2 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2008 Lotus Elise has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Elise received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker