Subject: Elise, finally
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 8:51:02 +0100 (CET)
Well, after waiting for 1 1/2 years, I finally took delivery of my Elise last thursday. It's no. 378, silver.
When I went to dealer to pick it up, it was the first time I saw a Elise in silver other than on pictures. It looks stunning. I like the green and dark blue too, but silver really is something different.
Climbing into the car and driving home felt unreal, just too good to be true. Since then I've covered 1800 km, a lot of them on winding country roads in Swiss mountains.
I won't bore you with raving about the cars handling, brakes, accelaration etc. You can read it in all the magazines - just believe it, it's true. The speed at which you can go across bumpy, uneven small roads is maybe the single most impressive thing. I can't tell from personal experience, but the way the suspension soaks up bumps reminds of the in-car pictures from rally cars, rather than the rock-hard set-up of race cars for road circuits.
Things that surprised me: For such a small car the turning circle is amazingly big. No problem, but a little surprising. Also, I had expected the steering to be a little quicker at low speeds. But don't get me wrong, the steering is wonderful. Unless you are going insanely fast, there is no understeer and the car remains totally responsive even when the suspension is heavily loaded in fast corners.
I must admit that after 30 mins in the car I was slightly disappointed, as the steering and the suspension were both somewhat harsh and sticky, unlike what I had read in the magazines. After the next couple of hundred kilometers it was really amazing to feel how they freed up and lost all the friction that was initially there. Now the steering really is a delight. It's hard for me to describe in english - 'creamy' is the word that comes to mind.
Another surprise for me (and not entirely pleasant) is the amount of attention the car gets. The Elise has the basic dimensions of a Fiat Barchetta or an MX5, but in 'shock value' the only modern cars that compare are things like a Diablo, Testarossa, Vipers or maybe a yellow F355.
Sitting in the car in downtown Geneva (where Ferraris and Porsches are a dime a dozen), waiting for a friend, I felt like I was in the zoo, but on the wrong side of the fence. I finally got out and waited 20m away from the car.
Silver is the most beautiful color for the Elise, but it's as un-'stealth' as it gets. In terms of the attention-grabbing it's much worse (or better, depending on your point of view) than a red RX7 bi-turbo, for instance. The Elise just looks like something that belongs on a race-track, rather than a public road (and it's beautiful).
Things that have gone wrong: Well, the passenger side window leaks, the wind-screen has some minor distortion that's a little annoying, the idle speed sometimes adjusts itself to 3000 rpm and 5th gear doesn't always 'lock' when you're not careful. Do I care? Actually no, these things will get sorted out and they don't keep me from driving the car *hard* when I feel like it.
Biggest fear: Getting a new job in the states...