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But what has evolved? Well, the biggest change from the Series 1 has been the power plant. Driving the Series 3 is a 162kW supercharged 1.8-litre Toyota-sourced engine. With twice the power (and in some circumstances, possibly twice the reliability of the old Rover engine), the new engine doesn’t need to be as wrung out as the Series 1. But floor it to redline in the Series 3, and the extra muscle becomes immediately apparent.
Many traditionalists still love the hard-working Rover unit, but it’s impossible to ignore how much difference progress has made when it comes to what powers the Elise.
The other changes 20 years of development have seen are not necessarily improvements over the original car, but are necessities of either its extra pace or current safety legislation. While the Series 3 is a couple of hundred kilos heavier than the Series 1, considering that the Series 3 has that supercharged engine and six-speed gearbox, airbags, electronic traction control, beefed-up suspension, bigger and heavier brakes, fatter tyres, and a noticeably better build quality and fit and finish, perhaps the biggest surprise is that the newer Elise isn’t far heavier.