Final call for flight LE 1996. Closing now at gate number 240, gate number 240. Thank you. Have you ran after a plane’s closing door? I have. Happened a few times in my past life where getting into a flying tube and ending up in another country was a thing – through no fault of my own, I must add.
The feeling when you reach the empty gate to find it still open, check-in crew waiting for you to show up so they can go home, and the final dash into the aerobridge and into the loving arms of the stewardess. Oh, what a feeling. OK I made the last part up, but you get the drift.
The car you see here is a final call. The Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition made its debut last year to cap off a 25-year production run. Yes, the car that saved Lotus has been with us for a quarter of a century now, largely unchanged. But all good things must come to an end, and this is the end for the Elise as we know it. Production of the Elise and Exige have already ended at Hethel as Lotus enters a new era.
As such, this Elise would have been special even if Lotus didn’t do anything to it. But they did, throwing almost everything – including more power – at the Elise to make the Sport 240 Final Edition the “pinnacle of the model’s technical development”.
The most capable Elise ever is powered by the now-familiar supercharged Toyota 1.8 litre engine, as per the Sport 220, the previous top non-Cup Elise. That one had 220 horses and 250 Nm of torque, for 0-100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 234 km/h. As its name suggests, the 240 Sport bumps power up to 240 hp (243 PS) at 7,200 rpm and 244 Nm of torque from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm.
This uprated calibration shaves the century sprint time by a tenth to 4.5 seconds, and top speed is now up to 237 km/h. The reason the Elise can achieve near-current supercar levels of acceleration (it beats old supercars) from hot hatch levels of power is down to its weight, or rather the lack of it at 922 kg unladen. Ten-spoke forged alloy wheels – finished in black – lowers the unladen weight by two kilos to 922 kg. Yes, the Elise is no longer a 700+ kg car, but anything below a tonne in today’s market is to be celebrated.
The mid-mounted Dual VVT-i engine serves with its long-time partner, a six-speed manual gearbox that sends drive to the rear wheels. Note the gorgeous exposed aluminium gearshift mechanism, which is standard.
Surrounding the tight aluminium tub are top-shelf stuff that work together to make the Elise the purest driving machine on sale. You get all-round double wishbone suspension, AP Racing two-piston front calipers and single-piston rear calipers (cross drilled and ventilated 288 mm discs), Bilstein dampers, Eibach springs and driver selectable ESP modes. Yes, the Elise has ESP, ABS and even a tyre pressure monitoring system now.
The tyres are Advan Neova V105, 195/50 R16 in front and 225/45 R17 at the rear. You turn those things with unassisted steering, as it has always been with the Elise.
That’s a good namecheck, but it’s really about the specific tuning and not the suppliers. Malaysians are familiar with the term “Lotus Ride and Handling” due to Proton, and it’s no myth. If a few drops of the essence in a regular car can make a difference, here’s a perfectly poured full pint.
There are small but meaningful changes inside too. The Final Edition gains a digital TFT instrument cluster in place of the traditional twin analogue dials. The screen has two selectable displays – analogue-style with a circular tachometer and digital-style with a linear bar tacho. There’s also a shift light. The menu can be accessed via buttons on the side of the binnacle.
Also new is the steering wheel, which feels smaller, looks better and has a flattened bottom. In many cars, this is merely styling; in the super-tight Elise, every millimetre counts and the cut-off base allows for better leg clearance and easier ingress/egress.
The Elise’s cabin is still spartan, but I’ve never seen it so covered before. Alcantara can be found on the seats, door cards, door pulls, gear area and dashboard, all with contrasting orange stitching to match the exterior paint, which is also seen on the door caps. The car’s signature sills and much of the doors are covered in smooth leather. Music, if you need it, comes from a Sony 1-DIN head unit and four speakers.
The other surprises for me were in the form of concessions to modern life. Look hard and you’ll find a hidden USB charging port in addition to a cigarette lighter-style outlet between the seats, the latter is paired with a tiny cubby that barely fits a phone. The storage hole below the side AC vents is a perfect size for a SmartTag and there’s an open metal tray, but that’s about it for in-cabin storage.
Also included are power windows and central locking; the latter with a very hidden button. There’s an engine start button, but you’ll still need the key. The throwback key is also required to open the fuel cap. By the way, the boot is good for a duffel bag, but it’s next to the engine so don’t bring food. Bear in mind that this small space is needed for the rolled soft top and its support bars, so travel light.
Last but not least for a commemorative model, the final edition build plaque (unnumbered) is on the passenger side of the cockpit. The only other “Final Edition” mention is on the stickers on the front wings of the car. The rear bumper stickers just read Elise 240 Sport. Stickers? Lightweight, bro!
Sounds good so far? It’s time to brace yourself. The Elise Sport 240 Final Edition retails for RM608,800. Six hundred grand for an Elise is eye-popping, Final Edition or not, especially when the S3 could be had for below RM300k six to seven years ago. What’s this all about?
It’s all taxes, my friend. The duty-free Langkawi price for this car is RM315,100, and that’s inclusive of all extra costs such as transportation fee including insured logistics and ferry charges to the island, plus handling fee and flat-bed truck service to Puspakom and JPJ (RM308k without the add-ons). The UK price is a rather hefty £45,500 (RM259,208) so the difference is not huge.
By the way, the S3 Elise S was priced at RM332,300 (Peninsular Malaysia) back in 2013, and it’s known that Lotus enjoyed preferential tax rates that were significantly lower in the Proton ownership era, not to mention GBP-MYR forex rates that were more favourable.
But one buys a car to drive and enjoy, not to keep in Langkawi as a holiday toy. Take a car out from LGK and you’ll have to pay duties, there’s no running away from this. That’s right, but payable duty goes down by the year (the longer you keep a car there the lower duty you pay when taking it out) and in the case of Lotus, the slide is such that taking out a one-year old Langkawi registered car can save one a substantial amount of tax.
Take this LGK-registered orange unit for example. It turns one in November 2022, and if you take it out then, the payable duty is RM140k, which is a huge drop from the RM300k you would have paid the government if you registered it brand new on the mainland. That’s a total of RM448k versus RM608k – still a lot of money, but big savings nevertheless. And for a certified collectible no less.
If that sounds interesting to you, official Lotus importer and distributor Lotus Karz (previously known as Toycarz) has registered two units of the Elise Sport 240 Final Edition. This unit is one, and the other is in Azure Blue Metallic. RM448k is the retail price plus duties, before a possible discount, and with official factory warranty (three years from the date of registration). These guys have been Lotus specialists for some time now, so your car is in good hands. Lotus Karz is based in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam.
Also available via this duty-saving pre-owned route are the Elise Sport 220 (RM413k, if you don’t care about the FE), the Exige Sport 350, the Exige Sport 390 Final Edition and the mad Exige Sport 410 that will do 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. Like the Elise, the more hardcore V6-powered Exige has also been discontinued.
Now, some might be wondering what the fuss is all about, and it’s true that there are more complete performance cars for less money, especially when one starts to look at used options, but there’s really nothing in the market offering such a pure driving experience with modern mechanicals.
The Elise doesn’t need huge power from a big engine to go fast, it doesn’t need stiff suspension to stay on the road (in fact, ride comfort is pretty good!), and it doesn’t need mega brakes to stop – it can only be so economical because of Lotus’ lightweight ethos. Yes, it’s difficult to live with everyday, but on the right occasion, the Elise brings joy to a driver like no other can.
The car world, and even Lotus, is moving into a new era, one that’s digital and electric. If you want to keep a memento of the old world, a reminder of how cars used to be, we can’t think of an example that’s more pure and more analogue than the Lotus Elise. Final Edition, final call.
GALLERY: Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition in Malaysia
The post Lotus Elise Sport 240 Final Edition in Malaysia – this RM608k collectible is yours for RM448k, here’s how appeared first on Paul Tan’s Automotive News.