There are certain names which need no introduction to any real performance car or motorsports fan – and ‘Lotus Cars’ is certainly one of them. The British firm, started up by the legendary Colin Chapman just after WW2 as a tiny bespoke racecar manufacturer has become a byword for well-engineered lightweight sports cars. From the original Lotus Seven through the Esprit and Excel supercars to the latest Elise, Exige and Evora, a Lotus has always been the choice of those who prefer precision chassis and superb handling to brute-force horsepower …though a few Lotuses have had that as well!
The Öhlins team has worked with every modern lightweight Lotus sports car over the years, and has produced a high-performance suspension package for the whole range.
Starting with the original Rover-powered Elise range from 1995, the Öhlins Advanced Trackday & Motorsport package is available for the <span style="font-size: 14px;">1995-2004 Elise, Elise S, Exige and Exige R/Cup/Cup 240</span><span style="font-size: 14px;"> models, giving these super-light sports cars a hugely capable suspension upgrade path. The kit is based around four conventional damper units, with lightweight aluminium bodies and remote reservoirs. There’s full adjustability on compression and rebound damping, plus simple preload/ride height adjustment. Öhlins also supplies springs in the recommended rates – 62 N/mm front and 72 N/mm rear – but alternative springs can also be fitted.</span>
There’s a similar kit available for the later Toyota-powered Elise/Exige range from 2004-2010, which is also suitable for the Vauxhall VX220/Opel Speedster. Again, the high-performance monotube shock absorber design offers separate compression and rebound damping adjusters, plus ride height and preload adjustment. That makes it much easier to get the perfect setup to suit any driving style, at any circuit. The spring rate is also slightly tweaked to suit the more powerful Toyota-engined Lotuses, with 62 N/mm front and 85 N/mm rear springs supplied.
The later Series 3 Exige from 2013-on has supercar-troubling performance even as standard – and with an Öhlins suspension upgrade, it will be troubling them even more. The ÖDTC-developed fitment for the 345bhp Toyota V6-powered Lotus is, again a conventional shock absorber design, with full adjustment on the coilovers – preload/ride height, and rebound. The kit comes with springs supplied, in a stiffer 70N/mm front and 130N/mm rear setup.
The ultimate Lotus Elise is probably the latest Cup 260 variant – and our Nürburgring test team had an enormous amount of fun engineering the ultimate Öhlins suspension upgrade for this 250bhp/862kg missile. The Advanced Trackday and Motorsport package for the 2017-on model shares its technology with some of the Swedish firm’s most advanced race units. That means TTX twin tube technology at front and rear, with full ‘two-way’ compression and rebound damping adjustment and separate adjuster ‘clickers’ all round. Large-bore 36mm damping pistons give superior damping oil flow in all conditions, and the coilover units also feature full preload and ride height adjustment. With Öhlins-suggested spring rates, the ATM kit gives around a 20mm ride height reduction – and the recommended springs are provided in the kit. It’s an extremely high performance upgrade, more than up to the highest levels of track and competition driving – and the perfect match for the fine-handling Cup 260 Elise.
Every Advanced Trackday and Motorsport kit for the Lotus range meets with the highest Öhlins build quality standards. All exterior coatings are salt-spray tested for corrosion resistance, with hard-anodised aluminium bodies and micro-finished chrome damper rods. Each unit is, of course, also completely serviceable and rebuildable – which is how Öhlins suspension can provide decades of reliable, high-performance service and tuneability.