What is it? During the Lotus heyday in the 1960s, the tiny Elise and the Elan were essentially twins (at least on the outside), with the Elise being a soft-top roadster version of the two-seat Elise coupe.
In the past decade, the Elise has been reborn as a targa-topped minimalist roadster powered by a four-cylinder Toyota engine. Now the company plans to redesign the Elise. The new model grows in size, price, and refinement, promising to address critical shortcomings with the current car, including the difficult entry and exit. The next-generation Elise will be powered by a Toyota-sourced turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 320 hp, and it is expected to cost $55,000.
Launching first, the new Elan will effectively be a step up from the Elise, offering a similar package to the current Evora. It will be powered by a mid-mounted, supercharged 4.0-liter Toyota V6 engine, producing 450-hp and teamed with a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. A hybrid will be available with the Formula 1-style Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Lotus is billing the Elan as a 2+2 seater. It is expected to debut for 2013 at a price of $118,000. It's not clear whether the Elan will replace the Evora.
What is new or notable? After years of selling different versions of pretty much the same car, Lotus has shown a full range of premium-priced sports cars that it will be rolling out through this decade.
When will it be available? Elan--fall 2013, Elise--spring 2015.