First the good news: the 2011 Lotus Elise has received a European fuel economy rating of 56.1 miles per gallon. Now the bad news: that’s derived using Imperial gallons, not U.S. gallons, and the European cycle requirements are much less stringent than our own EPA cycle requirements. Still, if you do the conversion from Imperial gallons to U.S. gallons, that still produces better than 46 mpg, making the new Elise the first green car capable of kicking ass and taking names on a racetrack. We can only speculate on what the EPA rating will ultimately be, but expect it to remain very eco-friendly
How did Lotus manage this feat? By swapping the old 1.8 liter motor for a new 1.6 liter version with variable valve timing. Power output remains the same, but both mileage and carbon emission are substantially improved, and the car retains a sub six second zero to sixty time. Lotus engineers also found a way to improve aerodynamics, leading to a four percent reduction in drag.
Reference: 2011 Lotus Elise to achieve 46.7 MPG