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The design philosophy of Lotus is "Performance through light weight", a philosophy first adopted by the founder of Lotus, Colin Chapman. The motto drives Lotus to obtain very high performance with lightweight cars in spite of their relatively modest power outputs, with a strong emphasis on driving purity and dynamics.
The result is a sports car that in production form in 1996 weighed in at just 720 kg (1,587 lb). Compare this to a Porsche Boxster which is also considered to be an extremely lightweight sports car but weighs nearly twice as much: 1,250 kg (2,756 lb).
As a result, the Lotus Elise's acceleration (0-60mph in 5.8 seconds), braking, cornering, and fuel consumption (all of which are improved by reductions in a car's weight) were astonishing for an engine put out a relatively modest 120 bhp (89 kW), compared to the 201 bhp (149 kW) produced by the 1997 Porsche Boxster.
Although high-tech, it represented affordable cost of ownership for sports car lovers on a budget who still wanted performance and looks.
Source: Wikipedia (original)