Though I've never driven a go-cart through city streets, I now feel as if I'm an expert at it. With my tush just inches from the pavement, I darted around Los Angeles in the Lotus Elise. Lotus's racing heritage is apparent in its Formula- like appearance, if not in its street-legal engine. Yes, it's quick--going from zero to 60 in five seconds flat--owing to a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder, 180-horsepower engine in an ultralightweight body. And its steering is exceptional. But then I stopped behind a Honda Civic and felt like an ant. Driving one of these on urban roads is not for the faint of heart, what with all the gargantuan SUVs.

Inside, creature comforts are minimal. The adequate air conditioning and pathetic Blaupunkt stereo are about it. The floorboards are aluminum--very cool. And there are bolstered racing seats, a MOMO steering wheel and an aluminum shift knob--all to enhance the racing feel. Getting in and out is tricky, so I don't suggest pulling up to a fine restaurant in it. Instead, take the Elise to a track and tear it up. That's what it's made for, and there are no SUVs to squash you like a bug.

Tip: Just 2,300 will be made this year; get on a waiting list now to take delivery by summer.