Well, you posted your question on a Ferrari forum; now go to www.lotustalk.com
and see what kinds of answers you get there!
My opinion: You are looking at two EXTREMELY different cars, in purpose, design, construction, driving dynamics, and most of all philosophy. The question in my mind is, "What led you to consider those
The Elise -- in any variation -- is a car that you either love or hate. Most people either "get it" and adapt to it, or own it for a short time and realize it's not what they imagined it would be.
For most people, being low to the ground, in a small car, and/or in a light car either scares them or excites them. Regarding safety, I'd stick to NCAP and NHTSA ratings or valid engineering assessments to tell me about any car. Regarding the assumption above about safety and the car disintegrating, an Elise has energy absorbing crumple zones and breakaway portions like any modern car or race car.
A car that takes a *lot* of practice to get into and out of smoothly, has a spartan interior, and asks more (and rewards more
) to the driver is going to entice some and put others off.
If you view pre-1995 Mercedes-Benz cars, air cooled Porsche 911s, and 1950s-60s Pininfarina bodied cars as standards of build quality, then any Lotus will feel like a cheap toy to you. If racing cars like 917s, various LMPs, and open wheel cars fit into scope and you understand they are designed for different purposes, then with a Lotus you will get the point.
An Elise is definitely a car that one needs to spend some time behind the wheel of and generally getting to know physically before deciding to buy.
Regarding Lotus in general, I always silently get a chuckle when someone describes anything but a Lotus as "like a go-kart for the road," or "like a race car for the road." EVERYTHING
is a sled after you spend some quality time behind almost any Lotus other than maybe a later Esprit.
Someone above said you could get bored of the Lotus after a while. Quite frankly, Lotus are absolutely the most fun to drive and least boring to drive
cars in the world. People who like what Lotus are all about never tire of them; others -- those who sell theirs -- simply realize it's not their cup of tea.