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Lotus Elise Tire knowledge
The Lotus Elite is a rather unique vehicle. Named after the granddaughter of the owner of Lotus, the Elise is a sports car that can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. That's quick by sedan standards, but about average for a sports car. What makes the Lotus special is that it has serious gripping ability. Grip ability good enough to keep up with much more powerful cars on the highway or track.
Given the Elise's capabilities, most drivers will opt for stickier tires to get the best performance possible – and we don't say that about every sedan. The Elite is also a mid engine vehicle, which somewhat uncommon, even amongst sports cars.
With all of it's technical abilities, the Elise might be a daily driver for some, especially if they live in a warmer, dry climate that works well for the power vehicle's rear wheel drive system.
We will partially focused on higher performance tires for the Lotus in addition to some Grand Touring All-Season and finally a snow tire or two.
Best tires for the Lotus Elise
Grand Touring tires for the Lotus Elise
Grand touring tires are meant to provide the most comfort possible, with decent treadlife. In most cases, a grand touring tires is also considered an all season tire, meaning they can be driven in most non extreme cold climates and could handle snow with some caution.
Bridgestone offers their WeatherPeak as our first all season tire. WeatherPeaks have wider, circumference-length grooves to help you avoid hydroplaning while driving on wet roads or through slush. You'll also appreciate a newer innovation in “evolving sipes” within the central part of the tire that become biting edges for more slippery surfaces as the tire begins to wear.
At the moment, there aren't enough user tests for the WeatherPeak for TireRack to give us their subjective ratings, they are projecting an excellent across the board with wet, dry, comfort, and tread wear. They are also saying winter and snow is excellent, but consider taking a grain of salt with that in your Lotus Elise.
TireRack did, however, do a real world test that is in our opinion, a but more valuable than some subjective tests. The WeatherPeak was set against a Continental PureContact and a well known Michelin CrossClimate2. The WeatherPark excelled where it counts for the Elise, providing dominant steering and road handling numbers that beat the Continental handily but tied with the CrossClimate2. As expected, the Bridgestone didn't do as well on a wet surface for steering though it didn't fall off as much as its competitors. Cornering, handling, and acceleration were good and on par with other high performance tires during the dry and wet slalom.
The Bridgestone didn't do too hot for stopping distamce on dry, going 8 feet further than other tires, but being right in the race when it came to wet stopping.
Overall, TireRack considers this fairly new introduction to the high performance pack to be quite competitive.
We also consider factors, including warranty. In the case of the WeatherPeak, you get a 5 year or 70,000 mile warranty, and half that if you choose to put different sizes tires on your axles. You can get them shipped to you for free with TireRack, starting at $183.
Firestone put together a tire package that includes a rounded tread to penetrate through standing water, and wide blocked shoulders to maintain grip when on wet roads. Firestones says they've put “snow vices” on their middle treads to gain more traction in light snow – though that might be irrelevant for some Elise drivers.
In a real world tire test, the WeatherGrip does well especially on wet roads. TireRack tested it in snow too, and it did good, but a snow tire might be a better option here. Overall, the handling and balance as well as cornering and traction were on par with other tires – including others that don't fit the Lotus Elise. For a tire that is labeled as weather setup, it does a good job in dry weather – beating and matching competitive tires on a dry slalom lap.
WeatherGrip also gets good scores across TireRack's user collected subjective tests. A 9.0 in wet and dry is pretty solid, though comfort isn't all that great at 83. It's worth noting that the Elise has been criticized for not being all that comfortable to drive – and we aren't sure good tires can really help there.
Find a Firestone Weathergrip at TireRack at $158 per tire. You'll get a 5 year or 65,000 mile warranty with the Firestone, which is slightly less than Bridgestone.
Yokohama AVID Ascent GT
Rounding out our all-season line is up the Yokohama AVID Ascent GT. One major promotion for the Yokohama is their BluEarth branding. While TireRack lacks specifics, Yokohama states that their tires are made using environmentally and socially friendly solutions to refine and build rubber and other materials. These tires are built with an asymmetric pattern to endorse proper lateral handling, which is great for the Elise. The shoulder blocks are also adaptive to improve traction while reducing road noise, especially during turning. The AVID Ascent has a high silica compound that grabs for more pavement grip during the rain as well.
Subjective ratings look good – with a 9.0 on wet and a 9.1 on dry. The comfort level is a little lower at 8.4, but again, the Lotus Elise might not be helped by a cushy tire anyway.
TireRack's real world tests indicate that the Yokohama provides an overall great ride – readily beating out a Vredestein and BFGoodrich all season tire. Handling and balance as well as cornering are top notch though beaten by Vredestein – which is not available for this vehicle.
The Yokohama surprises in a wet and dry slalom, finishing first in dry and second in wet. The stopping distance is also good – just above average on dry roads and just a few feet longer than Vredestein on wet.
The warranty is 5 years or 65,000 miles, which is good for an all season. They also don't mention conditions for using different tire sizes. At about $140 per tire on TireRack, this is an all around good deal, too. Users who bought this tire also raved about their cornering ability compared to the Toyo tires the Lotus Elise came with when new.
Best Performance Tires
Performance tires are a different class. The idea behind a performance tire is a stickier rubber that holds the road better. They also often provide less comfort and aren't as focused on longer tread life.
Continental ExtremeContact Sport
As a “Max Performance Summer Tire” this one is pretty fun. The subjective ratings feel about right, though they get an 8.8 on wet, which is higher than expected. A solid 9.1 on dry also helps.
For real world tests, TireRack says the ExtremeContact is fun to drive through their track – and we can see why. When challenged by a very popular Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, a Pirelli Zreo, and a Bridgestone Potenza, this does quite well. Against the other tires, it is very well rounded for steering, braking, handling, and cornering, while others falter a bit across the categories.ExtremeContact really stands out on a wet test – putting up near equivalent dry numbers – which is a pretty big accomplishment to not lose entire points for handling in the rain.
For stopping, you might also like to know that the ExtremeContact leads both the wet and dry test. Continental manages to beat its competitors by 3 fet on dry and a minimum of a whopping 12 on wet.
Given this competitive edge, if you are thinking about getting tires for your Lotus Elise and will be driving through rain often – or the idea of wet roads and a mid-engine, rear wheel drive sports car make you nervous, this might be the right tire for you.
TireRack has these going for $154 per tire with free delivery. You get a fairly brief 6 year or 30,000 mile warranty with the mileage cut in half if you have multiple sizes.
Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 Plus
You aren't experiencing deja vu – these tires have similar names. The DWS 06 Plus comes from the ultra high performance all season line instead. These tires are designed to have great grip on dry, reasonable on wet, and we wouldn't suggest them for winter driving.
You'll first notice an asymmetrical tread pattern that helps for cornering and traction at a high speed. The sipes (the cuts within the tire molding that create channels for water) are x-shaped so that the tire moves laterally better while moving through water. Continental takes a unique approach to showing tread wear too. Their tire starts with “DWS” visible within the edge of the tread. As the tire wears, the “S” will fade away, telling the tire is no longer at its best in snow. “W” will wear away too, indicating that the tire won't handle like it used to on wet surfaces. “D” will remain indicating it is still ready for a dry road.
So what did user reviews say about the DWS 06 Plus? Good things! Wet grip was great with a 9.2 while dry was even better at 9.3. Comfort is also unexpectedly high for a tire not entirely engineered for comfort at 9.
In head to head tests, this tire took on a Vredestein Hypertrac, a Bridgestone Potenza, and a Michelin Pilot Sport 4. Continental proved be the best all around tire, scoring in the top 2 continuously with great ride quality and low noise factor. Cornering traction and steering characteristics were class leading, which is great when under a swiftly moving Lotus Elise. DWS 06 Plus also won the wet and dry stopping distance, by a foot in dry, and by three feet in the arguably more important wet.
Grab a set of these tire at TireRack for $144 each with free shipping. You also receive a 6 year or 50,000 mile warranty.
General G-Max AS 05
The G-Max features wider inboard and outside shoulders to increase grip and traction while turning. This tire also comes with a two-ply construction to handle those high speed corners without wearing down quickly when you use your Lotus Elise to its fullest ability.
Subjective ratings are up there with an 8.7 on wet and a 9.0 on dry. The treadwear rating isn't real high at 8.1, nor comfort at 8.2 – but this class of tires isn't well known for either.
In real world tests against a BFGoodrich “G-Force” tire and a Yokohama sport. It doesn't blow away the competition, with lower scores in ride quality and noise, but great scores where it counts more for a tire on the Lotus Elise – steering and road feel. Steering characteristics are a whole level above the other tires – giving you plenty of “feel” and response when you turn the Elise's steering wheel just a bit.
The G-Max lands right in the middle of a fairly tightly contested dry stop test, and does better on a wet stop at 113 feet compared to 120+ for Yokohama. This tire is an overall good choice if you want to get the most of having a good suspension and rubber connection in your Lotus Elise.
Pricing starts at around $115 per tire on TireRack, which is a pretty good deal if you ask us, and makes this a good value tire as well. The warraty includes 6 years or 50,000 miles of coverage with half available if you use different sizes.
Yokohama Advan A052
As an FYI, and once you see a picture of it, you'll notice that this is a track tire with minimal actual tread. The Yokohama has wide center ribs and wide sides that result in extreme grip in straightaways and corners. They also are not exactly daily drivers – these are more meant for dry conditions, and potentially track day.
This comes through on their subjecting ratings: A very solod 9.3 on dry, and nothing else worth mentioning with a 6.8 on wet. If you like driving your Elise on a warm day on a track.
Head to head tests against a Bridgestone Potenza, Falken Azenia, and Nexen confirm that it is capble of going the fastest, with the quickest slalom times of all the tires. Curiously enough, Yokohama manages to make the tire go about the same speed on wet and dry, which is a rare achievement. Stopping distance was also very encouraging with the second shortest stop distance on wet with just 98 feet and 71 feet – good enough for second on dry.
Steering and road handling response are on a different level with this kind of tire, with the highest tire in category getting a 9 and the Yokohama still getting a very solid 8.75
You'll also like to know that given this is a different kind of tire, the price is a little different too. You'll be starting at $238 per tire at TireRack.com. You also do not get a treadear warranty, though you do get a 5 year workmanship and materials warranty.
Best Snow Tires for the Lotus Elise
In the case of snow tires, we chose to go with only a couple tires– in part because TireRack doesn't have many tires for snow in the Lotus Elise's size. This is not uncommon as most standard SUV, car, or truck tires often have a smaller selection as well.
Continental VikingContact 7
First, we salute you for being committed and driving your Lotus Elise in snow. We'll be honest – this sounds like fun for a little “get up and go” car with excellent handling.
The VikingContact 7 has the aggressive, honeycomb like tread you are expecting from a snow tire meant to dig in – and leave the snow in the tire for the best traction. It is actually true that a good snow tire doesn't push all the snow away – it captures some because snow gets better traction against snow than a rubber tire.
Continental uses a unique “Nordic” compound which is highly flexible so that it can endure extreme cold scenarios and changes in road temperature – which is completely unlike a racing tire. With that said, this snow tire does good in the snow, earning an 8.8. They are unexpectedly comfortable at 9.1 too.
Real world tests confirm that the VikingContact does very good on wet and ice traction, like we had a doubt. The tires within the competitive set were within 10 feet of each other stopping in the wet at high speed, with VikingContact taking second place behind a Blizzak that doesn't fit on the Elise. While snow tires are often loud, these were nearly a full point ahead of other models in the category.
TireRack offers these tires starting at about $160 per tire. No tread wear warranty is offered, but you do get a 6 year workmanship and materials warranty.
Firestone Winterforce 2
Big difference here, by the way. These tires are studdable – meaning they have what amount to screw holes to put winter studs in, especially good for serious bad weather in your Elise. The ratings can be a little different because technically, one can modify the tire by plugging in studs. In case you were wondering, studs are allowed on some roads in the United States – and are sometimes required – or chains, in parts of Europe.
These have a fairly aggressive looking pattern with deep chamfers on the side to flow out water and ice when need.
TireRack naturally suggests you only buy these in sets of 4, because you'll need the same tire and size across the board. Pick them up starting at $106 per tire at TireRack.
Frequently Asked Questions about Lotus Elise tires
Do I need performance tires for my Lotus Elise?
The tires that come with a new Lotus Elise tend to be from the Toyo brand. While these are in fact designed for what the Elise can do, they aren't the best. The best answer is that only you can decide your needs and budget. If you don't find yourself having any troubles with your driving style on an all season tire, stick with that and save some cash. Performance tires will cost more – if not up front, in the long run as their treads will not last as long driving the same style and number of miles.
If you want to literally race your Elise (it is capable of racing!), then consider getting even higher performance tires. We assume at this point that you have other racing gear for your Lotus, so it might not be out of your budget for an already high end vehicle.
Can I put two different sized tires on my Lotus Elise?
Yes. To clarify, we literally mean putting larger tires on back and smaller tires on front. This idea is fairly common for rear wheel drive sports cars, where strong torue makes a bit more rubber a bit more helpful. Some sports car drivers practice this tire placement for looks – and that is OK too. Note that as stated with some of these tires: putting two different sizes on will reduce your tire warranty.
Some years of the Elise come with two different size tires, so this is definitely not out of the ordinary.
How does installation work?
You have some choices with online retailers like TireRack. The first option is free delivery to your home or one of thousands of independent retailers that accept tire shipments from TireRack. Make an appointment with your retailer and have tires shipped there. They will charge you a service fee for installing – and probably a bit for disposing of old tires, and you don't have to do anything but bring your Elise in and pick it up – though some might offer drop off too. If you want to install your own tires, have them ship them right to you.
TireRack also offers pickup services if they happen to have warehouses located near you. We suggest bringing a truck to retrieve your tires. They aren't small! You definitely don't want to bring the Elise for this one.
Bringing your vehicle in for tires is also a great time to get your basic maintenance performed, of course.
In the case of a Lotus, some might have a trusted mechanic. Consider talking to your mechanic about the idea of having tired dropped off. Some smaller independent and sports shops don't carry tires and will welcome having tires shipped from elsewhere in a one off case.
Is there a limited tire selection for the Lotus?
We explored the TireRack site a bit, and the result isn't surprising for a higher end vehicle. Noting also that the Lotus Elise uses slightly different tire sizes for different years, there are fewer tires available then average. There are also many more high performance tires available than with most common sedans and SUVs. Sites like TireRack, and we are sure many other tire websites, will have you select your year and trim of Elise to ensure you are getting just the right size of tires.
Is the Elise discontinued?
Yes, Lotus discounted the Elise and other models including the Evora and Exige in 2021. For Lotus fans, it is worth noting that the manufacturer started making three different cars in the Emira, Evija, and Type 132. We can't help but notice a pattern in the names.
Are there other website options for Elise tires?
You could also use SimpleTire and DiscountTire. Both offer some of the same reviews and information as TireRack, and offer delivery. DiscountTire also has a national chain in place, in case you want to just stop into one.
What can I do about spare tires?
The Elise isn't known for having an especially large trunk – but other readers have talked about having used the spare tire of a Porsche in order to best cram a small tire into an already little car. Our other suggestion is to use roadside assistance!
Are the street illegal Lotus Elises?
The Lotus Elise Series 1 is not street legal. Other versions of the Lotus with right hand drive (more like a European layout where the pedals and steering wheel are on the right side of the vehicle) are not street legal. The Series 1 is a literal race car – and very lightweight at under 1 ton – you can't drive one on the streets, but the race track is just fine. Not having side windows or roof might have played a factor in the decision, thanks to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding