What is it like on the inside?
Have a bit of a think about what you’re expecting from a Lotus interior. Sparseness? As many toys as Tiny Tim’s average Christmas day? The internal dimensions of your average mailbox?
Well, you’re not wrong, as such. But it’s sparse because it’s not laden with a bevy of tech accoutrements that you didn’t ask for and won’t miss. What’s there is what’s supposed to be there – steering wheel, manual gearbox (with its beautifully exposed linkage), some pedals in the footwell, two seats, air conditioning for when it gets hot and a heater for when it’s cold. There’s a stereo for tunes and you can plug your phone in to supply them. So what, exactly, is missing here?
As for the dimensions, we can report that Top Gear’s largest staffer (perhaps ever) managed to fit, after a bit of shuffling and scooching. Not bad for such a diminutive car, considering it’s trying to accommodate six feet, four inches and the build of a retired rugby player. For comfort, he reckoned he’d only need an aftermarket, deep-dish steering wheel and fixed, slightly lower seats to transform the fit from an ‘OK for a few hours’ to ‘OK to drive from London to North Wales in one sitting, then go and have fun from there’. The width, for the broader of shoulder, is really only a concern if your passenger is either equally broad or claustrophobic. The door sills are wide, but ingress and egress isn’t too much like, as one TopGear.com commenter put it, “a spider getting out of a matchbox.”
There is a technique for getting in and out, but it really follows common sense – one leg at a time (imagine that), hunch up and drop bum into bucket seat, then fold the rest in. Once inside, the few buttons there are to press and levers to pull are in easy reach. They’re logically laid out, too – don’t forget that Lotus has had more than two decades to finesse the interior.
But the overall feel from inside an Elise is one of just enough. There’s just enough space, just enough in the way of creature comforts, just enough give in the bucket seats to make sure you aren’t flirting with masochism every time you get behind the wheel. This, in case it isn’t already patently obvious, is very much a concept we can get behind.
And in this day and age, when every rival overflows with screens and ways to access them, the Lotus spare, clean approach has increasing appeal. What's more, they'ev appeared to have worked out how to build them properly. Recent cars we've driven have felt robustly made from qulality materials and have refused to let in water or wind.