From: Ian Peters
Subject: A pleasant day for a drive..... of an Elise :) (longish)
Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 15:56:37 +0930 (CST)

Hi all

Today was our monthly Club Lotus run. Apart from some beautiful weather and a pleasant drive in the hills as they begin to turn green again after summer there was an Elise along for the first time. The first shipment of three cars for Adelaide arrived last week and this obviously was one of them.

We had a ball looking at it all in detail and very elegant the engineering is too. All cars that come here have leather seats and CD player. We had a drive and even though the Elise is only 700 km old and limited to 4000 revs, Geoff trailed along nicely. We stopped for coffee and to my suprise Geoff chucked me the keys and insisted I have a go... Wooooeeee.....

I did about 20 km (712 to 732) through the hills and had a ball. Its' hard to sumarise without sounding like a road test reprint. Firstly with a km you are hapilly picking apexes to nearest 1/2 inch, in some ways reminiscent of a seven but different in the feeling of compliant suspension with no roll to speak of. The steering is fantastic, best bit of the whole car by miles. It felt like a very light version of the esprit with absolutely predictable response and so direct. If you asked me now I'd reckon it was 3/4 turn lock to lock, thats the impression it gives. Whilst I didnt push the limits too far I had a few drifts going and it felt very flattering and controlable. The brakes are marvelous but in deference to the newness of them all I didnt give them a real pounding. The detail design of the car is exquisite. We must stop the bean counters at Proton getting to it. Michael, get a high sill car. The platform feels stiff and taught even to the point of being upset by the same camber change in a hairpin near home that gets to my Esprit.

It truly is a wonderful car.. but

The bad things. It feels underpowered. Although I was rev limitted it felt like you couldnt drive it out of corners enough. Given a pretty flat power curve of this very, very docile engine I suspect it might not be solved with full rev range available. The best way I have of describing the feeling is like a fomula ford with a fairly flat engine. Way more grip than power and little opportunity of affecting its attitude with the throttle. What do Elise owners think? I would question how well the car handles late braking into corners. Perhaps this is the same as being underpowered. You cant force weight transfer back onto the rear wheels. Either that or the Esprit and the Ralt have taught me some bad habits.

The seats were a big disapointment too. The flat base of the seat is so wide that there is a lack of lateral support. There is also a lack of thigh support so that although I'm only 6 foot tall and very comfortable in an Esprit my heels were too far forward and the angle of the pad on the pedals was all wrong. The brake is quite a lot higher(closer to the driver) than the throttle so it was awkward on transitions. The LCD is useless in daylight too. I'd want an audible warning if there isnt one.

I'm not sure how anyone gets into one with the hood up. It must be possible I suppose. I'd also hope that the gear change mechanism would loosen up with some more miles under it's belt as it's too stiff and lacks any crossgate bias. Geoff says his hood leaks. Who cares?

All in all a very wonderful car. A car Lotus should be proud of and one that adds to the marques reputation. Unforunately they are 76 thousand dollars here or 38k pounds or 58k US. That is serious money, but if I sell the Esprit and the Plus2... Hmmmm and it would need a decent seat. Must go and talk nicely to my wife..

Ian (still grinning)
Thanks Geoff