(This is a post on the EliseTalk Forum, from an anonymous poster, known as Padrino.)

Another Test Drive (part I)

I just got back from a test drive, at a dealer that is trying to control the madness and meter when customers can come and demo the car, so I'd like to post annonymously. If you think the following stream of consciousness is worthy of sharing, please post this w/o my identification. Thanks! And man, you guys were right!!!

Trest drive route/length: 25 minute test drive, commercial zones, back roads and freeway; moderate surface street traffic, no on/off ramp traffic (!)

Conditions: hot, clear, dry


-Shifter throw is fairly long and somewhat vague

-brake pedal feels spongy in first few cms of travel

-rear view mirror is too big (seriously - it impeeds looking through corners at speed)

-center console does move/wobble a bit, but it is not noticable when driving

-lots of attention from other drivers on the road (when they can see you)

-start sequence is a little annoying

-the soft top takes up much of the trunk


-I fit with a helment on (6'2"), but there is some interference with the headrest forcing my helmet forward. The seat was not all the way back, I was clear under the soft top by an inch or slightly more, but I'm unsure whether I'd pass the broomstick test.

-The shift lever is canted toward the passenger, with my long legs that's great!

- I'm indifferent about the exhaust; it sounds better than the Rovers I've heard, but it could use some aggression throughout the rev band. It does sound quite good at the upper end (6-8k). I'm still considering the sport exhaust.

-The second cam lobes REALLY WORK. Remember the early turbos with their lag and huge last second rush? They're back, in the head of this motor. Luckily the gears are just about close enough together to keep up on the "high side" of the cams.

-The car can be driven sedately at low revs without issue.

-It was comfortable (no LSS, obviously) over potholes and generally crappy surfaces. But even over the potholes it felt well constructed.

-The StoneGuard stuff was nearly invisible; you really had to look for it.

-Soft top easy to stow/remove (30 seconds off; 90 seconds on - first try)


I've owned or driven heavy, high power cars on the track and street (S4, STi, "vette, 911), light(er) weight race cars (Miata), autocross-prepped MR2s (MkI and MkII) (and other, less notable iron) and that test drive was the most fun I've had in a car - laugh out loud fun - holy crap lets do that again fun - buy stock in Yokohama fun - period. Without pushing, the car will double any posted (suggested) on/off ramp speed. With only the slightest effort - triple. I can't wait to get it on the track. And yet, it was perfectly fine (for me) on the street. A/C works, suspension is compliant, and the car is not a "chore" to drive the way some track-biased street cars can be. Hopping into my "sports" sedan for the trip back to the office, I felt like I was getting in an SUV. My perceptions are warped right now; it's unlike any car I've ever owned. With time, I'm sure certain livability issues will start to present themselves, and the search for more power may seduce me, but out-of-the-box, it's fantastic. I'm selling the motorcycle.

Padrino Replies:

Padrino replies. :)

It fair to criticize my driving style on a low-mileage car. The car had 125 miles when I hopped in. About 50ish were pre-delivery (who knows how hard those were) and the remaining 75 were by folks at the dealership (I have a pretty good idea what those might have been like).

Exiting the dealership I was respectful -- it's not like I hit the rev-limiter coming out of the garage (that wasn't until later). But once the sales rep had a degree of confidence that I wasn't going to stuff the car, he was encouraging. And I think it was proper for him to be so. Putting around under 4k the car feels like any other; to experience this car's magic, it must be rev'ed and it must be cornered. I'm not buying this car for "status" or "style" or any other "shallow" reason. I'm buying this car 'cause people all along have raved about how it drives. I needed to know for myself whether the hype was true, and for the most part, I must agree with the positive press. If the test drive had gone poorly - well, I don't want to think about how that conversation with my wife might have gone.

Chris asked the question as to whether I would treat my car the same way I treated this one - obviously, no. Not at 125 miles, even though I have faith in Toyota's mechanicals. But there are many schools of thought on breaking-in a motor, and we need not debate them here (although I think we already have . . .). Remember, it's a demo - short for "demonstrate." Today, an Elise demonstrated what it is capable of - and it did its job exceedingly well.

Now, several hours later I still wear the same grin. Sale made.

One point about the front tires (non-LSS, remember): at 7/10ths (8/10ths?), no problem with understeer - just do every thing in the right order, and don't ask too much of them. Ridiculous speeds are still attainable with skinny rubbers (oh, my). The ABS engagement was deliciously late, a small amout of lock-up and a huge amount of feedback are available prior to intervention (or the intervention is so subtle as to not be noticeable on street tires). For auto-x, we'll need to figure something else out, I think.

Oh, more cons: it may not have a glove compartment, and I'm not sure of the radio (it may have been on), and I think there was only one windshield wiper, but, did I mention that it drives well?

Anyway, there are a few days that stand out in my "vehicular career" - getting my driver's license; my first street race (I too was young, and stupid, once); my first autocross (it will always be The 'Murph to me); my first solo flight; the first time getting a sailboat to plane under spinnaker (16 kts!); a certain wet lap at Watkins Glen; my first Elise Drive. Today's drive was delicious, it was irresponsible, it was unadulterated joy - hooliganism, in it's least harmful sense. I can't wait until mine (and yours') shows up.

As for who I may - or may not - be: "I’m a connoisseur of the finer things in life; I’ll take any flick with Al Pacino; I’m a man of respect, but I prefer to be addressed as Padrino."