It was kinda fun to read this thread, now that I've had my '05 Elise for almost 2 years. I have to admit that I'm in the don't drive it in the winter camp. Another consideration when evaluating the daily drivability is the degree to which you might be using it for competitive motorsports. Here's what's happened to me...
I had lusted after a Lotus since 2004 (I still have the car and driver mag review on my bookshelf). My lust was substantially centered around wanting a car that looked cool and had REAL performance. I am naturally somewhat indifferent to super luxury options such as heated seating, etc. I got exactly what I was looking for, and my main worry at the time of purchase was would the stiff ride be so stiff that I couldn't stand it. Once I got to drive one, I was hooked and my mind cleared of the stiff suspension worries.
At that time I had never even dreamed of participating in competitive motor sports, but after driving it for half a summer I began to feel like there was fun to be had that I was missing out on by not taking the car to the limits. Doing so on public roadways obviously involves something of a death wish because the roads are full of stupid people who do stupid things without looking, and smart people who look but simply aren't expecting a car traveling at twice their speed
. Who can blame them really?
So with the encouragement of my mechanic who is a Lotus fanatic and races an Esprit, I tried out a track day at NHIS. In anticipation of this I did a bunch of web browsing and ran into the SCCA site, and discovered that a friend from college was heavily into SCCA Autocross... So I tried one of those too, figuring at worst, I'd reconnect with him. Both events were fun, and took the car/driver to different sorts of limits.
The track day was a big bigger rush, but I spun twice (once was harmless right at the start because I stepped on the gas too hard
, the other more serious in turn 6, probably because of a badly timed downshift
) and so it was clear that track presented a higher risk profile, which in the end I decided was not (yet) for me. For various reasons, I was unable to compete the rest of the summer (injury plus, month long vacation/business trip). I Autocrossed 12 times the following year, and this year I am intending to *at least* match that. I'm also going to begin improving the setup of my car for autocross. One of the things that this will likely involve is messing with the alignment, and next year, I'll probably get stiffer springs, and double adjustable shocks... stiffer sway bar, etc.
These things increase tire wear, and make the ride even bumpier as I understand it. I'm also considering adding a splitter to reduce the chances of cone damage to the front, which if it's not removable will further increase the problems with gas station entrances and such. If I ever got really competitive, the stereo and the AC and such would get axed for weight
So my point is that you may want to consider that the suitability as a daily driver may change after you get it