The Lotus Elise Cup 260 combines extreme performance with extreme exclusivity and as such, according to Lotus at least, is the best iteration yet of its lightweight, mid-engine, open-top street-legal race car.
Taking fabrication, aerodynamics and behavioral cues from its track-only cars as well as from its bigger and more potent Lotus brethren the Exige and the Evora, the Elise Cup 260 features the most advanced external aerodynamics package yet applied to the model line, plus the largest helpings of carbon fiber in the construction process. All of which cuts the car's curb weight to just 902kg.
It's also the first ever Elise to get adjustable Nitron high-performance dampers (with 24 individual settings) as standard that work in concert with the car's fully independent double wishbone suspension and adjustable front anti-roll bar (all of which are absolute necessities for taking the car on different circuits in different conditions).
Combine all of that with an all-alloy 1.8-litre supercharged engine, and the 250-horsepower car is capable of hitting 100km/h in just 4.2 seconds.
Lotus, which next year celebrates 70 years, will cap the Elise Cup 260 at just 30 examples; the car has been built in homage to the company's late founder, Colin Chapman to the specifications he would have demanded if he'd still been at the helm
This latest limited edition compact road rocket arrives in the wake of a report from the U.K.'s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that shows Britain is in pole position when it comes to low volume automotive objects of desire.
The report outlines how Britain has become home to the world's biggest and most diverse collection of specialist car companies, from Ariel and Aston Martin to Bentley, BAC, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Morgan and of course Lotus. Despite offering very different types of automobile, the marques have two things in common: they offer cars in low volumes; and with high values. In 2016 alone, this tiny group of companies turned over a combined £3.6 billion ($7.75 billion) such is the demand for their products.
Indeed, it has been as much due to his obsessive focus on building extremely limited editions and models destined to be future classics, as his ability to work with Mercedes to bring the all-new DB11 up to the same technological standards as its Italian and German competitors that Dr Andy Palmer has been able to reverse Aston Martin's fortunes since taking over as CEO in 2014.
And in recent years, Lotus has been taking a very similar approach by creating a host of focused limited editions aimed at very different types of drivers and car collectors. The company returned to profit this year and has just been acquired by Geely, Volvo's parent company, meaning that it will finally have the available funds to develop completely new models to sit alongside the existing range.
What's more, Aston Martin, Lotus and all the other specialty carmakers in the sector are on the verge of an even greater payday.
If lingering questions surrounding Brexit (over 60% of these low-volume cars are for export) can be answered swiftly, these car companies are expected to see their combined production swell by 60% by 2020, as there is currently no shortage of potential buyers around the world.
As for the Lotus Elise Cup 260, prices will start at £59,500 in the U.K. and €76,000 in Europe before the addition of optional extras or bespoke elements.