2005-2011 Lotus Elise
Upgrading the stereo system in your Elise
2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Elise's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Lotus.
Overview of the Lotus Elise
Things no one has ever said:
"Wow, you just bought a Lotus Elise! What's it like?"
"I love it. The stereo is terrific!"
We're not slagging on the factory stereo by any means. As factory systems go, it's actually pretty terrific. But this is a Lotus Elise, so the stereo isn't supposed to be the first thing you notice. If it is, the people who designed the car would like a word….
Despite American-market additions like air conditioning and a nice stereo, the Elise is still a full-blooded, no-kidding sports car. It's small, it's cramped, it offers little or no luggage space, and it's completely (and delightfully) impractical for most aspects of daily life. It's about as close as you can get to piloting a race car on the street, which means it's also the perfect street car to drive on the racetrack.
When you're scything through the esses with a helmet on your head, the stereo system probably isn't at the top of your list of things to work on before the next track day. Every day isn't a track day, though, so you (or your occasional co-driver) might want to improve the audio performance before your next sunny-day drive on a twisty road. The Elise doesn't offer a ton of room, but there's a surprising amount of room for improvement in the sound system.
Factory stereo system
The Elise rolled out of the factory equipped with a very nice Blaupunkt AM/FM in-dash single CD player and four speakers. In 2007, the Blaupunkt equipment was replaced by an Alpine system that could be had with an optional iPod® adapter and satellite radio capability. Throughout the Elise's run, the speakers were located in the dash and the rear panel behind the seats.
The factory Blaupunkt radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
All things considered (the fact that the engine is behind your head, for example), the factory systems were rather nice, but that doesn't mean you can't make improvements. It's surprisingly simple to upgrade your sound without upsetting your car's sporting character. Our Crutchfield MasterSheet™, free with your purchase, has the illustrated instructions you need to do the job yourself.
As you might expect, the Elise doesn’t have enough space in the dash for a double-DIN DVD/Nav receiver. But there are a number of single-DIN CD receivers that fit nicely and offer great features like Bluetooth® connectivity, iPod/iPhone® compatibility, streaming audio, HD Radio™ tuning and more. On the other hand, a digital media receiver is a great choice if you've decided that the case of compact discs in the passenger's seat might be affecting your handling balance in tight left-handers.
Replacing your factory radio
To remove the Blaupunkt, you'll need a set of DIN tools, which are included with your Crutchfield purchase. Remove the factory faceplate and insert the DIN tools into the openings on either side of the radio. The tools will release the side tabs and unlock the radio. Pull on the tools to remove the radio. From there, all you need to do is disconnect the wiring harness and remove the receiver.
These tools are designed for a wide variety of Ford/Euro DIN stereos, by the way, so don't toss them out after you use them. They might work nicely on some of the other cars in your collection.
Now, you're ready to install your new stereo. Remove the DIN sleeve from your new receiver, slide the sleeve into the dash opening, and secure it by bending the tabs. Hold the receiver near the dash, connect the Crutchfield wiring adapter (available at a discount with most stereo purchases) to the vehicle's harness and plug the antenna lead into the rear of the receiver.
Note that on the Elise, the yellow and red wires in the Crutchfield harness are reversed. The yellow wire supplies ignition power, and the red wire supplies constant power.
Once everything's hooked up, slide the receiver all the way into the DIN sleeve until it clicks securely in place.
Tools needed: DIN tools
Replacing your factory speakers
The Elise has factory speakers in the dash and behind the rear seats.
The Blaupunkt dash speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Up front, the Elise has a pair of 4", 4-ohm Blaupunkt models in the upper dash. They're very easy to reach and replace. A wide variety of 4" aftermarket speakers will fit right into this opening, but we do recommend that you purchase speakers that come with grilles.
Pry off the speaker grille, then remove the four Phillips screws that secure the speaker. Lift and remove the spacer ring, then pull out the speaker and disconnect it. Connect the factory speaker wires to your new speaker, then and secure it with the screws you removed a couple of minutes ago. Test the sound, then secure the grille that came with your aftermarket speakers.
Tools needed: Panel tool, right-angle Phillips screwdriver
You'll need to remove the seats to access the rear speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing the rear speakers is a bit more complicated, but then again, almost anything would be. These 5-1/4", 4-ohm speakers are located in the rather cramped area behind the rear seats, which explains the challenge. We offer plenty of aftermarket 5-1/4" models that will fit the Elise, but, as is the case with the dash speakers, you should focus your shopping on speakers that include grilles.
To access and replace the speakers, you'll need to remove both seats from the Elise. The instructions are slightly different, we recommend removing both seats at the same time.
On the driver’s side, you'll start by removing the two 14mm bolts that secure the front of the seat bracket to the floor. Slide the seat forward, then remove the two 6mm hex bolts that secure the rear of the seat bracket. Disconnect the seat's wiring harnesses and remove the driver’s seat, taking care to store it (however briefly) in a clean, safe place.
Now that the speaker is exposed, things get a lot easier. Pry off the speaker grille and remove the four Phillips screws that secure it to the car's rear wall. Disconnect the speaker wiring and remove the factory speaker, then connect the factory wires to your new speaker. Secure the speaker using the old screws.
On the passenger’s side, you'll remove four 6mm hex bolts that secure the seat bracket to the floor, then remove the passenger’s seat. From there, the procedure is exactly the same as it was on the other side.
Once you've replaced both speakers, test them out to make sure everything's working. If so, reinstall the seats and go for a drive!
Tools needed: Phillips screwdriver, panel tool, 6mm hex and 14mm sockets, ratchet, and extension
Bass in your Elise
You probably weren't expecting to see a section on subwoofers in this article, but it just might be possible to fit a small, compact powered sub in the storage area.
You should be able to install your subwoofer if you have any experience with car audio, but if you have questions, call one of our Sales Advisors at 1-888-955-6000 to verify fit information.
Other options for your Lotus Elise
Here are a few other products and suggestions for your Elise.
An action camera is an awesome accessory for touring or track days, and it can also be a handy thing to have on your dash when you're cruising around town.
You can still get aftermarket nav functionality without installing a touchscreen nav receiver in your car's dash. A portable GPS will mount on your dash and give you turn-by-turn directions, traffic updates, and everything you need to make your road trip go smoothly. Plus, when you get where you're going, you can put your GPS in your pocket and use it to find points of interest around town.
There is almost no wiring information available for the Elise, so we don't recommend installing a security system unless you know a very good professional car security installer. It can certainly be done, but this job is purely for the pro who knows something about the Lotus.