Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 11:19:09 -0400 (EDT)
Yes the Elise is terrific. It is so Lotus-like. The interior is cheesy in kind of an attractive way. The window glass barely goes up -- mechanism is stiff and the actual window cranks are flimsy plastic. The dash is bare. The seats are shells covered with leather and maybe 1/4 inch of padding in some places. The rear window comes out by the silliest of ways -- the top of the steel roll bar has a 'glass cover over it, held on by latches. You unlatch the fiberglass cover and the rear window falls out as you wiggle it loose. Then you put the fiberglass back on and latch it.
The rear trunk is a canvas bag attached to the body so things don't fall into the engine or suspension. The trunk lid is either fiberglass or aluminium -- the car I drove already had a palm print in the trunk lid from pushing it to latch.
The engine drones and whistles and whirrs. An induction system/filter change has got to be considered. It doesn't feel remarkable but you also get scared fast because the little sucker hauls. It leaps. Imagine it with the NSX engine though. Can you find a totalled NSX and get the motor out for you Elise??? My buddy Jeremy Walton went to Lotus a couple weeks ago to road test the 150 hp upgrade kit and said it's definitely noticeable -- sound and poop are much better.
It is light and stiff. Feels in some ways like the Europa -- when you come to a sharp corner it either darts along as you wish or it feels like it will continue to go straight because the front wheels are barely touching the ground. I don't know if I am saying that clearly, but it's just an impression due to the extreme lightness. Other midengined cars I've driven like the NSX and Ferraris don't feel the same. On the Elise you can crank the wheel hard and the car goes around just as fast as you can turn it.
It's skittish. Granted, I was driving after an all-night flight, 4 hours of meetings, and an hour of loitering around the dealership lot. On skinny, bumpy roads on the wrong side of the street. I can picture them vividly. At least it wasn't raining. But the car was still skipping a bit on the bumps. Could be tire pressures. In any case I wished there wasn't so much on-coming traffic.
Would I still want one? Absolutely. For $30,000 + ? Well, now it's more tricky. Since you could have a nice 7 and maybe an Elan for about the same money... but on the other hand this one is legal, crashable (well surviveable) and new -- yep I might have to have one anyway.
There was a woman in the dealership trading in her M100 Elan for an Elise. Her only car, she said. We need more like that on our list.