Lotus Elise 111R | Part Three

Lotus Elise 111R

Lotus Elise

The twin instrumentation dials show road speed and engine speed (for the 111R, now showing to 10,000rpm) and are updated for 2004 across the whole of the Elise range, with clearer graphics and orange back lighting which is proven to be easier on the eye. Links between the Elise and the track have always been strong, and the ambience of the facia and trim with the chassis tub sides provoke a strong sense of being seated in a racing derived but comfortable cockpit.

A four speaker Blaupunkt stereo system with CD player is provided as standard along with a radio receiver wiring loom including dipole aerial kit located in the front of the Elise 111R.

The legendary chassis

During the early days of the original Elise development programme, Lotus searched for an appropriate and available chassis technology for its new lightweight sportscar. Unable to find a suitable technology, and unwilling to compromise, Lotus set out to change the rules. Lotus engineers looked outside the automotive industry and brought together aluminium extrusions and modern aerospace bonding techniques to produce a lightweight and exceptionally rigid structure.

The ground-breaking epoxy-bonded aluminium tub chassis, unveiled in September 1995 represented a breakthrough in sportscar technology.

The structure is an assembly of individually extruded lengths bonded together by epoxy resin adhesive, a world first in automobile manufacture. The adhesive used to bond the Lotus chassis achieves exceptional strength with the ability to absorb the most extreme loads, pressures and forces that it may encounter. Never before had a modern vehicle’s chassis been bonded together.

The bonding of lap joints provides a superior joint to traditionally welded butted joints (with bonded joints, there is no distortion of the material’s integrity at the join). Self-pierce rivets further increase the structural integrity through reducing material ‘peel’ in the most severe of impacts.

The chassis received modifications in 2000, including lower, reinforced longitudinal sills to improve the access into the cockpit.

Now with the introduction of the VVTL-i power unit, further enhancements have been made to the rear of the chassis structure. Utilising experience gained from the development of advanced lightweight steel, a new highly efficient rear subframe offers increased strength. In keeping with Lotus’ philosophy, this structure is an elegant integrated single solution for the engine cradle and improved suspension and exhaust silencer mounting points.

continues... | Part Four
Published 23 October 2004 Melanie Carter

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