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Randy Chase 08-05-2008 06:05 AM

The official, ONE AND ONLY, Can This Lotus Be Used As A Daily Driver thread
 
In Development-

We get this question a LOT on LotusTalk. Maybe one of the most common and it has been discussed to death. So here you are, wondering the same thing. Can I buy this car and use it as my daily driver?

The simple answer is, well... maybe. It will depend on what your needs are as a daily driver. For example, if you went on a motorcycle forum and asked "Can I ride a motorcycle as my daily driver?" The answer is maybe. Some people do. Some would think you would be nuts. Many people here use their Lotus as a daily driver. Be it Seven, Elan, Elise, or Esprit. But never an Eclat.

For some people, daily driver means that they still have some other vehicle (family car, spouse's car, work car) that they can use. For others, this is their only car. For some people, the answer will depend on location. Road conditions, traffic, and weather.

There are some extra considerations you should think about. My answers will be based on the Lotus Elise, but should in general apply for the most part to any Lotus. YOU have to determine the value of these things and what it means to YOU. Which is the main reason that there is no one correct answer to "can this car be my daily driver." Review the following items and see how it would apply to you. You may have to use critical thinking skills! :)


1. Size and Safety, traffic, roads, visibility
2. Parking
3. Attention and perceptions
4. Hauling
5. Passengers, Ingress and Egress
6. Noise, Comfort
7. Reliability
8. Weather


1. SIZE AND SAFETY, TRAFFIC, ROADS, VISIBILITY
The Elise is a smaller car and this will be apparent when driving on the road next to an Escalade. It takes a little bit to get used to the feeling, but you will. Any smaller car carries some extra risk (though you gain some safety by nimbleness, great brakes). The Elise has an excellent safety record and uses large door crash beams and an integral rollbar. It is a safe car.

Driving a small (low) car like the Elise means you are not easily seen. If you are behind, or to the passenger side of a taller vehicle like an SUV or Van, they can't see you. This means you should adopt some different methods or techniques. Do not drive on the passenger side of most cars. Do not follow too close for a distance (they will forget you are there). Do not pull up at a stop right behind someone taller (try to move over to the left to be seen in their side mirror). Try to avoid passing cars on the right (as you should anyway). Pretend you are a motorcycle, but much lower. Keep alert to avoidance and where your escape route is.

Low and fragile. Take special care about hitting road debris. A tire tread can cause a lot of damage on an Elise. If you drive roads with a lot of debris (some Los Angeles freeways), maybe this is not the right car for the commute.

Roads. The tighter suspension and shorter wheelbase mean that the Elise can hop over bridge connections and jar over broken roads, specially concrete. If you drive a lot on less smooth roads, the jarring can get tiresome. This is a lot worse IMO on a sport package Elise than a non-sport, mainly due to tires.

Visibility. In the Exige.. lol. But even in the Elise, it is not so good. You can make it a lot better, with the installation of the concave mirrors. But you are in a low sportscar with blind spots, so take extra care when changing lanes.

2. PARKING
Included in this is entrances and exits. The low ground clearance and longer front overhang mean that the front of the car can easily scrape on entering a driveway, or into a gas station. You need to review each and every ramp to see if clearance is a problem (try using an angled approach, but always be VERY willing to say screw it and find another entrance or station or whatever). Hitting the clam on the pavement is a bad thing. One thing to really look for, is the evil parking lot where the entrance is not a problem, but the exit is.

Parking garages. SOME garages have a pretty sharp angle where the ramp to the next floor is joined. Worst nightmare is getting "high sided" on a point. Know your garage and know if you can drive it and get out.

Parallel Parking. Due to the low height of the car, people will often not see it. And even if they do, some people routinely park by tapping the other car lightly. But on an Elise, this can cause a LOT of damage. Do not parallel park the car. And if you do, only take the most forward position as most incidents are from people backing up and not seeing the Lotus.

Even normal side by side parking is more potentially damaging in the Lotus. The low height means people will not see you in that tall SUV to your left and they swing out and clip you as they go to leave. Or swing in to park in your space, not seeing the car until it is too late. Don't pull up too far, leave your butt hanging out more even with the other cars. Also, on the same token, get used to not pulling up as far because if you hit the parking berm, you will damage your clam. Do not drive up and use the tires against the concrete berm method. Stop 4 feet back. :) And if you are at a place known for large people hauling large things... park far away. You don't want people trying to fit a cart next to your car, or moving 2x4 wood next to your car. This includes Home Depot, Walmart, Ikea, Costco. Park at the far edge of the lot.

Valet parking. Are you nuts? Maybe if you know them, but better to tip and ask if you can park it yourself. Or just don't.. some valets end up parking your car around the corner where the crack gang hangs out.

So what is left for parking? Walking is good exercise and you can apply some rules for determining good spaces.

3. ATTENTION AND PERCEPTIONS

Two main issues here. One is attention. Now many of us have a little inner attention whore and some attention is fun. Nice to get the occasional wave or question. But often, the attention can get too much. As stated before, this is really dependent on the person. For example, Dennis of dpcars said he had to sell the Elise a ways back, because driving it was like having to put on a tux for a prom, every time he just wanted to go to the convenience store. You will not travel incognito, if you were going to the local strip club, all your neighbors will mention it the next day. Stopping at a gas station means you will probably get a question or two. After a while, some of the questions can be old..such as "Lotus? Who makes that?" and the popular, "how much did you pay for that?" and "how many cylinders/what is the top speed/what does it do in the 1/4mile." Most people mean well and we are really ambassadors of the brand. People will also tend to drive up to the car, regardless of your speed. You can be driving 85mph and see some old minivan speeding like a bat out of hell, just to get along side of you. Except mostly, they hang out in your blind spot, which makes lane changes difficult. You can see people taking pics or video from the next car. And sometimes, it really brings out the stupid in people.

The other issue is perception. Some people think you are driving the most expensive car in the world for some reason. And they don't like it. You are instantly a dick for rubbing their face in it. Not too many, the car brings out more positives than say a Hummer or Lambo, but still... it happens. The kid in the Civic with a fart can will want to race and will do dumb stuff. The Mustang guy will challenge you and cop an attitude. You may find this is not the right car for business, because of the perceptions (right or wrong!) of your customers, clients, or their employees. You will be seen as too flashy, too risky, too much a big spender, maybe even someone that will not live long in a car like that.

4. HAULING

This one may seem a bit obvious. There are limitations on hauling. Duh. There are things you can haul quite easily. A couple of duffel bags for travel, no problem. Your helmet might fit in the boot. Maybe. There is a little room behind the seats. And if you don't have a passenger, you have all the space in his seat and in his footwell to carry all kinds of stuff. But there are limitations. The rear boot, is not bad... but the mouth opening is quite small. So little items that you can push around the wheel wells works well. Soft items work well. A roll-on luggage bag, probably will not fit in the mouth. So trips to the store also have the same limitations. You can pick up a couple bags of groceries, specially if you are willing to take them out of the bag, nothing is frozen (or your trip is not too long), or you can use the passenger seat. But heavy stuff, bad idea, specially in the boot. It can't handle heavy loads and the back of the tail lights are exposed and the wiring connectors can get broken. If you have a hardtop on the car, there is also more of a limit on getting bulky items in through the door into the passenger seat.

But then... you should have friends with trucks, right?

Randy Chase 08-05-2008 06:05 AM

5. PASSENGERS, EGRESS AND INGRESS

First getting in and out. As the driver, this is not so bad. And most people get better at it. As the driver, you can grab the steering wheel and that helps (try not to use it as main lever though, as it can affect the steering over time). But if you are taller, heavier, less nimble, older, or injured... this can be a lot harder. I think most people make too much of this and I am most of the above... and it was not that hard. But it can be for you. Specially if the hard top is on. With the top off, you can almost get in standing up and then sit down. One trick, is to push the seat back (if you move it up) all the way before exiting, so when you get back in, you have more room. Make this a habit.

But passengers. This can be a problem. Getting in and out as a passenger is harder. And they probably have less experience and it can seem quite awkward, and you are yelling at them to quit grabbing the windshield right? Because you know that grabbing the windshield for support can damage it. And maybe that passenger had an operation, or strained something, or is a bit heavier, or older. They may find it more difficult. And certain body shapes and sizes, just plain will not fit, specially if the hips are too wide for the seat. Or if they are over 6'5" (maybe). Or if they are too heavy. Larger torso people will also find their upper bodies touching the other person. Think coach airline seating. There will be touchage.

And it should go without saying that 2 seaters can't carry as many people... but you knew that right?

6. NOISE AND COMFORT

This is a biggie for many and a bit controversial... or at least more subjective. Lets consider first a Lexus. You easily slide over into the smooth leather seat, turn the seat heaters on and feel your butt get warm. Ahh... closing the doors seals off the outer world and it is whisper quiet. Turn on the Nakamichi stereo through the 14 speakers and even barely cranked, you can pick out musical nuances. Set the climate control to 76 degrees automatic mode. Tell the nav system to take you home. Drive as if on a cloud, lost in thought, or perhaps carry on business with your cell phone. That sets the stage for what the Elise is not.

The Elise is an aluminum tub with an engine and wheels bolted to it. The aluminum is a great material for lightness and rigidity (yay!) and also well know as a great conductor of heat, sound. You also have an engine right behind your head. And not much in the way of sound deadening or insulation. This experience is why you bought the car, this is not a negative!!! BUT... you can just about forget hearing the nuances in the music. Certain types of music work better in this car than others. Think- Simple and Loud. The radio reception probably sucks anyway. And using a cell phone? LOL. Almost possible. But not easy. If the top is off, the wind will create a lot of noise too. I recommend leaving the top on for longer trips and using earplugs if you want the top anyway. High levels of extended noise is very tiring. You will also hear every bit of gravel hitting the bottom of the car, the noise of the gearbox. The air intake. Burbles and pops from the exhaust. All good stuff. If you like that kind of stuff.

Temperatures. Well... hmm... see... SOME Elise cars were built with good AC. I have personally experienced this. On the other hand, some just suck dead bunnies up a straw. I guess there was some sort of Freon Fairy and some cars were blessed. I think 75% of the content on this site is how to fix the Air Conditioning, so that should tell you something. Again, this will depend on where you live. But if you plan on wearing a business suit to a meeting on a muggy August day in Alabama... seriously? If the top is off, you will feel superheated air from the front radiator washing over the windshield (and some of it tumbling into the cabin). The other bit of this equation is that the tub itself, and all the bits, get hot after some time driving. The side sills contain the coolant and oil lines...so they eventually get warm...er...hot. If you drive the car for 8 hours on a hot day, things will be warm.

The heater works well. It may not be a coincidence that the car is built where it can get pretty cold, but not too hot. But then that does not explain water leaks, does it?

Seating. This will certainly depend on the person and their body, but I found the seats very easy to sit in for long periods of time. Very comfortable. Everything is easy to reach in the car. Now after some time on a long trip, you may wish for cruise control... but really I don't think it is an issue. Starbuck fanatics on a road trip can get aftermarket cupholders.

Still all in all, this is not a Porsche or Lexus or a Honda S2000 or just about any production car. It is a LOTUS and you drive it because of this, not in spite of it.

7. RELIABILITY, MAINTENANCE, SERVICE

The Elise is way ahead of some previous cars made by certain British companies. Still, that is not saying much is it? It still can have some quirks and you might have to deal with them or put up with them. The type of build on the car, the racecar like suspension, contribute to a certain required maintenance. Anyone that races cars should understand this. If you expect a bulletproof car with ZERO problems... well, wish for peace on earth and a supermodel while you are at it. It is not horrible though, and reading forums like this might make it seem so, since not many people (except Larry) bother to post "Another day with my car and no problems!" but people do post when something is wrong. Stuff like the speedo failing, alarm system problems, idle problems. And maybe, your inside mirror might fall off. Or turn signal pop out. Stuff happens! You deal with it.

You may need to understand and perform a bit more maintenance than you are used to. Yes... learn what a torque wrench is. Use it. Snug up the diffuser bolts. Get some blue loctite, it is your new friend... unless you hang out with red loctite... then you are too hard core. This is a car you need to check your nuts. Don't ignore things. Check your fluids periodically too. You may have been able to ignore checking the oil for 35000 miles in that Honda, but this car.. bad idea.

And some of the maintenance may need be done at a dealer. And is one close to you? Is it the only one? What happens when they piss you off? What are you going to do about it. Probably post here, make some enemies at the dealership (they read this stuff, it is addicting), and get worse service next time. Or worse, piss off the Lotus rep. Ask me about that one.

You will probably need to replace tires more often than you are used to. If you are used to tracking a heavier car, you will probably replace tires, rotors, and pads LESS often than you are used to.

Some of the service may be a bit more expensive than you are used to. Some of the parts may be also. But then again, many parts are very reasonably priced. It is not consistent. Check prices on lotusgarage.com to verify Lotus MSRP.

8. WEATHER

Here is where someone from SoCal will post "sure you can use the car year round" and someone from Manitoba will reply "bite me." It really depends on where you live. Sunny weather with temps in the 70s, perfect. But snow? Some people enjoy snow in the Elise. Specially with the proper tires. Don't try this with the sport A-048s. On the other hand, snow and ice are not a good match for midengined cornering and other drivers hitting you. And snow can cover road debris or potholes.

Rain? Not a big deal, but make sure the tires are pretty fresh and learn to not lift in the middle of a turn. You may get some water in the car when it rains. Even if you car does not have any leaks (and the vast majority do not!), when you open the door, it will get on the sills. Simply carry a towel. Also to wipe your soles when they are wet as they get slippery on the aluminum pedals. The wiper is not bad, but on some cars, it could be better.

Basically, some people will use the car in the winter, others think they are nuts and put it away until the first thaw.

WRAP IT ALL UP

So after all that, what is the bottom line? Still that it depends on what you want and need from a car. No one single car is perfect for everyone and for all uses. CARS ARE COMPROMISES. This is not a full blown race car. It is not a comfy luxo cruiser. It is a car that has been optimized for road feel, nimbleness, fun while retaining a semblance of streetability and comfort. For example, if you are a realtor that carries 2-3 clients to homes, and puts those FOR SALE signs in the trunk, this would be the DUMBEST CAR EVER for you (as your only car).

For many people, the small negatives might add up to being too much to deal with. For most of us, the small negatives are trumped by the driving feel and the other positives. To understand that, you really need to spend some time behind the wheel. Perhaps that is also the best way to understand the negatives too.

RoadDad 08-05-2008 06:11 AM

Randy,

Is there a "thread/forum ignore" function? :D



This post will be deleted tomorrow...

Randy Chase 08-05-2008 06:12 AM

lol

Yes and no. Kinda.

I cam make this forum not appear on the front page (as OTHER does not appear)... but otherwise, no. Sorry. :)

kestrel74 08-05-2008 06:12 AM

:clap::clap::clap::clap: :coolnana::coolnana: :nanner::nanner::bow::bow::bow:
So..... the newbies can only post in these forums for their first.......50 posts ?? :shrug::up:

agirls 08-05-2008 06:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kestrel74 (Post 1068369)
:clap::clap::clap::clap: :coolnana::coolnana: :nanner::nanner::bow::bow::bow:
So..... the newbies can only post in these forums for their first.......50 posts ?? :shrug::up:

That's not fair! Some newbies actually use the search function to answer their questions! I did and do.

polojcp 08-05-2008 06:17 AM

Yes, Yes, and Yes. I actually found my Elise very comfortable. However, I don't drive it as my daily driver. I have a VW GTI for that.

Phantom 08-05-2008 06:21 AM

Does the Elise make sense as a daily driver?
 
I'm new here, and I am thinking about buying an Elise- So, I was just wondering if it is a practical choice for a daily driver?

I tried the search, and couldn't find anything on this subject? :shrug:

plastique999 08-05-2008 06:24 AM

rotfl

Randy Chase 08-05-2008 06:25 AM

See, now I can merge ALL the same threads into one. :)

agirls 08-05-2008 06:25 AM

you'll be here all day merging!

Randy Chase 08-05-2008 06:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by agirls (Post 1068381)
you'll be here all day merging!

Some days it seems that is mostly all I do. Merge, move, etc

Tracktimeplz 08-05-2008 06:34 AM

I daily drive my Elise, I dont find it comfortable, but it sure wakes me up on the way to work!

Noble 08-05-2008 07:23 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I'm posting this here so all the new kids will see it:

RoadDad 08-05-2008 07:51 AM

This is like one of the "please ignore this thread" threads...

exarkun1178 08-05-2008 07:59 AM

so, ive read the thread, and i haven't gotten a clear answer.. can the elise be used as a daily driver?

mjf 08-05-2008 08:19 AM

Simple answer: yes, the elise, can and is used by many as a daily driver.


More complex answer is as Randy explains above, "daily driver" means different things to different people.

I use mine to take my son to daycare, go to work, go to the grocery store, take people to the airport, and do most of my shopping. It is however at the end of the day a 2 person car with limited cargo space. If you need to transport more than 2 people or large amounts of cargo regularly, don't use this car for that purpose. I have access to a couple other cars for those rare occasions.

The Elise is a great daily driver, I continue to recommend that it not be your only vehicle if you need access to another vehicle (that should be self evident).

LARRY 08-05-2008 08:25 AM

My Lotus is my daily driver...yeah. :D

Cardinal 08-05-2008 08:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LARRY (Post 1068460)
My Lotus is my daily driver...yeah. :D

It helps to live in LA. If you lived in Maine, it would be almost impossible if you had to drive every day.

That being said, do you think I should buy an Elise as a daily driver? rotfl

...m... 08-05-2008 09:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mjf (Post 1068456)
I use mine to take my son to daycare, go to work, go to the grocery store, take people to the airport, and do most of my shopping.

...so i trust you're ignoring the bit in the owner's manual where it says 'your child will die if he rides in this car'?..


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