However, the one best thing thats gotten me loving so much about the Cup 250 is the sweet-shifting manual transmission. Yes, the clutch is not set in cement, so you won’t end up having a dead leg while creeping in traffic. Getting it into gears is so easy and yet precise that I could even live with one on a daily basis. Spare for the common horror of getting in and out in one, though.

Out on the highway, there’s no surprising that you can feel all sorts of bumps and thuds creeping into the cabin. It gives you the sense of being connected to the car in every way. No one in the right state of mind will castigate it for being ‘uncomfortable’. Not liking on how ungraded it is? Go and buy a pseudo high-performance SUV that gels a school run better.

Just Fish,

No Chips Please‍‍‍

The recipe is relatively simple. Just throw all the unnecessary stuffs out the window, fit in an array of lightweight materials, power it up with a tiny yet potently rasp‍‍‍y motor and you’ve got a car that’s potentially let‍‍‍hal enough to slay million-dollar rivals at the track. Yes, this is what Colin Chapman, the father and founder of Lotus did, and thinks is best. And god above, it works bloody well.‍‍‍

words and photography by KEEGAN DORAI


e are currently living in a world that goes by the phrase known as ‘the more, the merrier’. It includes your takeaway meal from a fast-food joint whereby the bloke that’s taking your order will pester you to upsize your order for just another RM1.

Or even when it comes to buying your next car that’s filled with all sorts of gadgetries — in which half of them will never end up being used. Just simply because it’s way too complicated that it looks like it’s engineered by someone who doesn’t have a life.

Imagine this scenario. You come across Mr. John talking to you about your opinions on a car cause you know your car stuffs well, and then he curiously asks, “Does it come with electronic handbrake function?” — and you go, “Nope”. Soon, his face turns so sour, you know that bloody feature could cost someone their next purchase. It definitely means something to him — but in my eyes — why would you need that in all honesty?

Is it so hard for civilisation to accept simple mechanical bits that will serve you better in the long run without failing? Why would you want to live with so many electrical gizmos that are capable of failing you much sooner than expected? I just can’t comprehend this sort of feeble-mindedness.

And in order to capitalise the market. Auto manufacturers are jumping on the same bandwagon in order to garner buyers such as Mr. John. The buyers — will of course — drool and get high on by looking at the spec sheet in awe which reads out endlessly long.

This is really unnecessary. I mean, do you actually need electric powered seats? Or worst of all, utterly useless navigation systems? All I know that the latter is easily done via your phone. Just buy a RM15 magnetic holder, plonk it onto your windscreen, and voila, you got something so much more practical and easier to use.

Besides that, your swanky optional media interface will of course lack data connection. Give it another year and the map built in will soon be outdated. Of course you can get it renewed when you head down to your nearest service centre — but if they’ve forgotten to do so — you’ll need to sync your phone, gain access to your mobile data, and then plot out to destination known.

And by doing that, you will not just be consuming mobile data, but your phone’s battery as well. So is that a win-win situation for you? I’d opt out for that and rest my laurels on a rather simple system which is easily operable without me going through a million menus in order to turn the air conditioning on.

‍‍‍Consecutively, I would love my car to come with a traditional handbra‍‍‍ke lever. Or even better, conventional rotary aircond controls. And oh — lets not forget — analogue meter readouts as opposed to LCD-powered units that could be plagued by dead pixels after two years. You might not agree with me, but that’s how I’d like it.

If you continue on throwing those stuffs out of the window, then you’ll soon come across a car that’s practically stripped down. Not your cup of tea? But that’s what Colin Chapman thinks it should be. Simplify, and then add lightness is a byword that hasn’t been disagreed by anyone so far.

Well okay then. In order to not lose your interest, the guys at Hethel has come up with a splendid aluminium-bonded chassis as the footing. Sounds old and familiar to you? Then you’d appreciate its nicely-sculpted glass-reinforced plastic bodyshell — which results in an exterior sized slightly smaller than any usual sport coupes — and comes with only two seats, and a well-balanced motor.

Is that the Lotus Elise? Well yes it is. But this is a rather special one as the marque will be building only 200 units per year. It’s called the Elise Cup 250. A special variant that’s more raw, serious-looking and 21kgs lighter than the car it replaced; the Cup 220.

This is all done by swapping the battery to a lithium-ion unit, which minus 10kg, and they’ve even went to the extend of shaving off another whole kilogram by fitting in a reworked intake system. Want more weight shedding? Then opt for the Carbon Aero pack as it removes another additional 10kg.

That’s not over yet. The bespoke wheels as seen over here reduces another 1.5kg. and those stylish carbon fibre seats, too, removes another 6kgs. How about the interior as a whole? They’ve forgotten to put in the carpets, and the radio seems to be missing. Well, Hethel will say it’s irrelevant. They want the Cup 250 to be as lean as possible. Just like a hearty salad-slash-pure protein lunch.

And to distance it away from its regular sibling, the Lightweight Laboratory has fitted in a bodykit that is also accompanied with a huge rear diffuser and a wing . Fierce it is in expression, but it also means business. At 160km/h, the Cup 250 is able to generate 66kgs worth of downforce. To complete the whole canvas, there’s even a raspier 1.8-litre mill making 243bhp and 250Nm included in altogether.

In essence, the Cup 250 is the fastest incarnation to wear the Elise nameplate. Thanks to the use of a more potent Magnuson R900 compressor, an Eaton supercharger and reworked software management systems compared to its immediate predecessor. Per tonne, it puts out 261bhp. Knowing that it weighs less than 1,000kgs with the exception of me being inside, this is going to be one piece of specimen that’s set to put a big smirk on your face.

‍‍‍While Hethel claims that the Cup 250 is able to clock 96km/h from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds, I did not manage to match that figure as it would require Heik‍‍‍ki Kovalainen to do that. But in my experience, it was indeed rapid enough. Somewhere around mid-four seconds in prediction? I am comfortably sure its around there.

Push to shove above the mid-range area, it still pulls sweetly until 170km/h. However, if you’re all out on outrunning similar opponents on a long straight line, it is going to be a little underwhelming due to its low-torque count. You want more pace, then you really need to rev it up to muster that extra speed.

Swapping the long straight thoroughfare for a twisty ribbon road, the Cup 250 almost certainly feels at home over here. That precise and unassisted steering wheel, astonishing traction and feedback in power simply gives it an unrivalled experience. Push it harder while entering the apex and you’ll soon be awed by how much grip this thing has at reserve.

Nonetheless, if you throttle the Cup 250 a wee-bit too much while completing your swing, do expect it to be a little snappy — and with that — the tendencies of ending up with an understeer is unavoidable. But blessed be for its extremely communicative setup and superb Bilstein dampers-slash-Eibach springs combo, getting it back in line for a spot-on exit is not as tedious as it seems.

While doing so, the pedals are positioned rather perfectly well for some heel-and-toe action. That’s another given plus if you just love to wake up early for a weekend uphill run. Or even for those looking at savouring some great moments on a trackday.

All methods of stopping is done quickly via a set of AP Racing brakes in front, and Brembo’s for the rear. The lower centre of gravity also injects a nice serving of confidence while doing the tango. The Cup 250 will simply, and always be t‍‍‍he chart-topper when it comes to no-frills, sporting at the wheel experience in my view.

Still upset at the fact that it lacks a radio and some nice leather upholsteries? Don’t be in sorrow. Just make sure you get the option boxes ticked and they'll happily patch them in while it’s being hand-assembled back in the United Kingdom. Despite knowing that it defeats the original purpose.

Sit-repping this, the Elise Cup 250 is of course, not designed for the generic bunch. It appeals mainly to hardcore enthusiasts where they can live with something that’s relatively small, noisy and hard to get in or out of. I did find it challenging in my experience as well. Or maybe I should be practising by removing excess fat and adding lightness to my portly self.

So for this, I will not opt grea‍‍‍sy fries for my next serving of Fish and Chips. And somehow I’ve got a feeling that Colin Chapman did that way back in when he’s around. And in order to streamline my intakes for a fitter me, the reward will absolutely correspond in the same rewarding fashion as the Elise Cup 250. What a brilliant piece of kit this is.