I'm in a similar position to yourself in respect of a new Elise having sold my S2111s at the end of the summer, only differences are that I've owned several before and I won't be placing my order until February 2020, the reason for that is I don't use the car in the winter, and I won't really have enough wedge until then to pay for it🙄.
I had a 48 hour test drive in an orange Sprint in September, there were two things put me off, one was the trade in offer on my Elise, and the other was that I didn't like the carbon seats, I found the headrest curved back into the car too much, they are designed to be used with a helmet so thats possibly the reason I found the headrest didn't fit so well, to the point of it cutting into your head when leaning back into the seat.
I was quite keen to do a deal last summer on a new car and found that there were quite a few stock 220's 250's at dealers that they were more than willing to discount, this was after sending every Lotus dealer in the UK an email telling them I was in the market for a new car(Some didn't even reply). When it came to purchasing a car to my exact spec I found dealers weren't quite so enthusiastic about doing a deal, obviously they want to get rid of cars they have in stock first, I was in no hurry, so no real problem.
We use our Elise mostly for holidays/weekends away, I've done quite a few track days in previous Elises but not many in the recent past, I'm hoping to get more track use out of the new car. I have the spec to my new car pretty much sorted but a couple of things are still in the balance.
A/C is something I've only ever had on an Elise once before, and it was pretty rubbish, I've been told by the dealer that I've chosen to use to include it on the new car as it will aid any sale in the future, its a £1250 option and weighs in at around 18kgs so I'm still very much undecided on it. The Elise comes from the factory without a head unit, you have to spec it, and at £400 mine won't have a head unit, little point really, as the roof is always off when I'm using the car, and sadly industrial deafness has pretty much done for 50% of my hearing.
The final sticking point, which is the biggest issue, is which model, 220 or 250. I've driven quite a few 220's but only finally got the chance to drive a 250 back to back with a 220 a couple of weeks ago. Theres very little in "on the road" performance in my opinion, on track, the 250 is better but certainly not stunningly better although I'm no driving God, but when being passenger with someone who knows the cars again there was some difference but not all that, unless really pushing the cars to their limit. The damping on the 220 was certainly better on the road and I'm still not a fan of the big spoiler on the 250 although it is growing on me.
You mention a hardtop on your post, fwiw, I've had two Elises with hardtops both came with them, I sold both before I sold the cars because I just didn't use them, they're a pita to put on and remove then adjusting the windows etc, and even when I used my Elise as an all year round daily driver I found the soft top on any Elise after the S1 to be pretty good really, occasionally required a shower cape in the height of winter.
Exige isn't an issue for me, I'm not a massive fan, and its too big in my opinion, although I appreciate I'm in the minority, S2 Exige at around 260bhp then thats another matter.