Enjoy This Close-Up Video Of Lotus's Exposed Gearshift Linkage in Action
Lotus is bringing the open-shift setup to the entire Elise range.
Even as manual transmissions continue their slow march towards extinction, there are still manufacturers fighting the good fight by continuing to embrace a three-pedal setup where it matters most. Case in point: Lotus only makes incredibly lightweight sports cars, so why would they stop giving their customers a chance to row their own gears? Their Elise range is already one of the better deals for a track-ready car in the European market (sadly not currently road-legal here), and now Lotus is turning them all into evangelists for the Church of Manuals by blessing even the cheapest Sport model with that beautiful exposed-linkage gearshift.
And honestly, it's hard to say no to this video. While it may feel like Lotus only overhauls its designs about once a decade—that's basically true—it's always adding some polish and tweaks between the years to shave a few pounds and keep things fresh. In addition to resurrecting the Sprint nameplate as a welterweight Elise for 2017, it's also refreshed the exterior design and a changed out a few parts to cut 20 pounds across the entire range...two pounds of which came from introducing the exposed-linkage shifter first found in the Exige.
In addition to showing off the beautiful engineering that would normally be hidden, Lotus claims it's also faster and more responsive without a traditional leather boot in the way.
In the base Elise Sport model, that piece of art is connected to a four-cylinder Toyota engine putting out 134 horsepower. In a rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined car weighing less than 1,900 pounds, that's more than enough for some fun—but again, the new Elise Sprint and Elise Sprint 220 are making waves this year by trimming another hundred-plus pounds for a better power-to-weight ratio.
And with all that for starting under $50,000 at current exchange rates, it's a shame we'll have to wait at least another three years for the next generation to make it to our shores. We can only hope the open gearshift sticks around.