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Last weekend I bought a Honda Fit. Not exciting news particularly, except it ends 3.5 years of having a Lotus Elise as my only car.

I bought my first Elise on 9/13/2008, a 2005 LRG Elise with 21k miles on it. I traded it with 39k miles for my second Elise on 8/20/2009, this time a 2006 in white, with (IIRC) 17k miles (which now has just about 52k miles). So that's a total of 53,000 miles driven in the two Elises, about 15,000 miles a year. Both cars had touring package and no real modifications aside from a CF center console.

How has it been? Overall, fun! I don't commute, so that helps. I live in NC, so snow isn't much of an issue, and again, since I work from home I've been able to avoid driving in the snow most of the time. I've gotten pretty good at knowing what I can fit in the car, and how to fit the most in. I've done several long road trips with no issues.

Some highlights:

When I bought the green Elise, I lived in MD. I bought the car in NC and drove it home, and the highways between NC and MD are rather ridged in places. I was regretting the purchase as I was driving, not sure if this was really what I had wanted as I bumped my way north. Thankfully, those are actually some of the most annoying roads I've been on, and I make that trip every few months now and am annoyed by the road condition every time. Not really the car's fault there!

I met a lot of awesome people in MD through here and through going out to events with the Lotus. We went on drives, cars shows, etc. It was a blast!

I drove to Orlando with my friend (Disney World!). That was fun, except I got horribly sick there and didn't feel up to driving on the way back, so she got to practice her manual driving skills and learn really really quickly how to drive the Elise! There was also a bit too much attention every time we came into the hotel from the door guard, I generally just wanted to get back to the room and of course he had to comment on the car every time (we had to stop as the seating position in the car is too low to swipe the card for entry).

I drove the Elise to KY for a convention (which meant cramming a ton of merchandise into it) and then to my new home in NC in July of 2009, with a stop at the Dragon on the way home. What fun! Although I will say the Dragon with a giant cardboard box in the passenger seat is not quite as much fun, especially when it keeps trying to join you in the driver's seat! I ended up duct taping it to the passenger seat (after protecting the seat with rags so the tape was more of a strap, not leaving residue on the leather) and that helped.

Shortly after moving to NC I found the white Elise with red leather interior at the local dealership (at that point Lotus of Durham was still around, and only 15 minutes from my house! Dangerous...). I ended up trading the green Elise in on the white one.

Since then, I've driven that Elise everywhere, it seems. I drove it to NE shortly after purchase, which I can tell you is a long trip to do in one day in an Elise. I've driven it to Orlando, too, and no getting sick this time! I've brought everything from a giant-breed dog crate to lumber home in it. I've done the trip to KY with all my merchandise several more times. I've taken it to the track (VIR is great), and had a blast. I've parked it in muddy fields, driven it on twisty roads, gone through toll plazas in NJ (not recommended), and generally used the @#^& out of it.

I've taken my greyhound to the vet, curled on on the floor/passenger seat. Not recommended, but when the dog is clearly sick and no other car is available, what can you do? My roommate has a hatchback, but she was at work and the dog was really not well. And you know, it worked. It's always worked out OK.

So, thoughts on the Elise as a DD:

It's loud. I keep earplugs in it for very long drives. I don't use them often, but they help make it a little less exhausting to drive.

It's small. Not only is there very little interior space (though the trunk is bigger than it looks), it's hard for other drivers to see.

It gets a lot of attention. People taking pictures with their phones while driving, people getting their picture taking with it when it's parked, people asking questions. If you're not prepared for that every single day it might not be a good only car for you.

It gets the same questions, over and over. Learn to say "It's a Lotus Elise", as "It's a Lotus" or "It's an Elise" will lead to "So who makes Lotus?". Also, get used to saying something like "Not too much", "About the same as a new Corvette", or something else for the inevitable "SO how much does that thing cost?" question.

It's fragile, but I have yet to incur any real damage. I've scraped the winglets on both cars, but that's it. I try very hard to avoid parallel parking, and make sure to leave the back of the car even with other cars in parking lots (if you pull all the way in the space can look empty).

It's loud. The engine noise, of course, but on top of that all manner of other little noises. After a few years you don't notice as much, until you buy another car, drive it for a week, then go to drive the Lotus. Yikes.

It's not just small, but low too. I love letting people sit in the car, because watching them realize just how low it is as they fall the last couple of inches, then have to climb back out (without touching the windshield surround!) is funny for me, and neat for them.

It kind of sucks in the rain, especially with tires that are getting toward the end of their lifespan. It's low so all the water thrown up by other cars is right in your face. It's really kind of scary and miserable, especially in a hard rain. It often leaks a bit.

I've gotten very used to turning the key to the on position, then pushing the start button. I still do the same sequence in other cars, but of course there generally isn't a start button there. Heh.

I keep a Nalgene bottle to the left of the driver's seat (the space there is perfect for one, and easy to reach). As the car lacks cupholders, if I want something to drink when I'm out I can fill up my bottle and not risk spilling it all over the car and myself.

It's certainly not an anonymous car. People recognize me. That could be good or bad I suppose.

I haven't done major mods, but there have been a few small ones. First was adjusting the brake pedal such that the brake lights come on with the slightest pressure, well before the car actually starts slowing. This lets me touch the pedal to warn drivers behind me, without actually braking. Very useful. I did that on both cars within a day or two of purchase.

I added an AUX cable to both cars. It's not hard and cost about $30. I need to do the same to the Fit, where I'm afraid it will not be quite so simple. The radio in the Elise is not great, and doesn't get as many stations, so this gives me the ability to plug in anything with a headphone jack.

I had my CF center console in both cars; had it swapped from the first to the second when I traded. I like how it looks a lot better than the stock grey plastic.

I put stripes on the green Elise about a month before I traded it. It wasn't too hard, though it took about 8 hours, and I was very pleased with the results.

I haven't had many major problems. The 2005 actually never had an issue. The 2006 has had a variety of things, from a window not working (screw backed out--twice), so the driver's side door not latching when the temperature was below 40 degrees (dangerous, and ended up getting the latch replaced to fix it), to the windshield washer fluid not spraying (it hasn't worked since about two weeks after I bought the car, and I still haven't fixed it). I did have a problem with my brakes, but that was my fault as the pads simply wore too far and then ate my rotors, so I had to replace both--pricey, but not dangerous.

I go through a set of rear tires about every 8-10k miles, fronts 2-3 times as long. I've tried a number of options and currently run Star Specs on the rear, AD07s on the front.

Ugh, this has gotten long. Anyhow...

I have enjoyed, and intend to continue to enjoy owning a Lotus. It's been a ton of fun, and despite the various inconveniences I really have loved having it as an only car. That said, it is a relief to finally have a second car/DD. And now this has gotten very long, so :wave:
 

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Great report! I have just completed my first month of owning an Elise and love hearing from someone who uses it as their only car. I know that won't happen with me (we have 5 vehicles for 3 drivers - a car for every occasion).

As far as adding an AUX cable to your Fit - we have a Fit as well (my daughter has it as her college car, best student car possible) and it has 2 AUX inputs. One USB in the glove box and an standard headphone style jack in the console. I thought they were standard. (ours is a 2009 Sport version).
 

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I am just about to creep over 50k in my car, roughly 18k in the first year of ownership. In September I will be driving it from CA to FL so I will have a report after that. I am in the same boat as you, except my wife has her car as well but since she is always busy my Elise is my every day DD ALL the time. I will say I agree with all your points. There are some sacrifices to be made, but it is readily a DD car! I compare it to DDing a motorcycle..sometimes you just have to plan a head a bit, and pay attention to the weather!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Great report! I have just completed my first month of owning an Elise and love hearing from someone who uses it as their only car. I know that won't happen with me (we have 5 vehicles for 3 drivers - a car for every occasion).

As far as adding an AUX cable to your Fit - we have a Fit as well (my daughter has it as her college car, best student car possible) and it has 2 AUX inputs. One USB in the glove box and an standard headphone style jack in the console. I thought they were standard. (ours is a 2009 Sport version).
Unfortunately, while the AUX ports are standard on the Sport version, not so on the older (mine is a 2007) base ones. I had been planning to get a new Fit, in which case all of them have the AUX input, and didn't realize that the older base ones didn't. Ah well, something to do I guess!
 

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Great info, thanks for posting!

I just hit 100k miles on my Fit "Sport "and have loved every one of them. Not a lot of power but it handles well. Handing it off to my 16 year old daughter was my excuse to get the Elise.
 

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I have had my Elise for about 45 days. I bought it with 38700 miles. It's just about to hit 40k miles and I feel bad that I'm that high on miles already as if I'm losing something. I've put about 5k into my car (new upholstery, painting inside trim and a nice stereo with some sound dampening in the cabin as well. I baby the car and get many of the same questions. It is my daily driver for the time, we are buying a older Jetta to get around in and for winter. It's hard to stay away from the car and drive it, it still feels new to me. Maybe the novelty of it will wear off and I can keep it garaged to keep the miles down.

Good summary though, it's nice to read how much use you have got out of your cars.
 

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Buy the car, drive the sh*t out of it.. that's great. Glad to hear you didn't have to use it as a commuter. That would have been a different story. Take it out only when you want, so it's all fun miles. Couldn't ask for a better situation.

My own Lotus (a '10 Evora) has been relegated to my fun car as it isn't reliable enough to hold up as a daily commuter. The car is sh*t in the cold, and sh*t in the heat, but works beautifully on a cool, sunny day. That's my Lotus. You really gotta baby these cars but don't ever expect them to do the job of a Honda Fit.
 

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Thanks for the info, I'm glad you had a great time driving, and I'm glad you were safe.
 

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Nice write up. I DD mine in the summer, truck in the winter. It's a 2005, so like you said, no problems. :)
 

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I love it!

As soon as I get a new job that is closer to home and doesn't involve parking in a public lot that has all sorts of undesirables walking around, I will DD my Lotus. That is the whole point of owning these cars... to maximize life's enjoyment, no?

I'm actually having some serious thoughts about switching to an Evora S so I have some more practicality... I know... it's all relative, no? The Evora is a practical everyday car compared to my Elise.
 

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I love it!

As soon as I get a new job that is closer to home and doesn't involve parking in a public lot that has all sorts of undesirables walking around, I will DD my Lotus. That is the whole point of owning these cars... to maximize life's enjoyment, no?

I'm actually having some serious thoughts about switching to an Evora S so I have some more practicality... I know... it's all relative, no? The Evora is a practical everyday car compared to my Elise.
Idk... With the amount of people that are having serious issues... The Elise may be more practical lol.
 

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Maggie,

You may be delighted to year, your 2005 Elise started me on my own journey...

My wife and I were visiting the Durham area on vacation in Dec of 2009. I had been looking for a serious upgrade to my daily driver. Between day trips, I looked up the local Lotus dealer from the hotel. I got VERY excited when I saw they had a used 2005 on the lot. 1. theres a dealer nearby, 2. A dealership is 50x more likely to let you test drive a used car w/o any real commitments.

When we drove to the dealership, I got super excited. It reminds me of the first time I saw a group of Syclones & Typhoons (my other obsession). I was super amped, they had a couple of Elises out front, 2 Exiges (oh man!) and this lonely striped green Elise.

We chatted with the salesman for a bit, while they prepped your little gremlin for my first trip. (They were actually going to let ME drive it!?!?) I spent time inspecting every swoop, curve, intake and ridge. I remember getting on the ground to look at the under tray; great Zeus these cars rule.

It sat idling while Mike? showed me how to get in and out, how the soft top works, etc.
The whole time butterflies were swarming in my stomach... I couldn't believe I was about to drive this thing.

We set out, his route had a pretty simple loop with an on and off ramp. I was very very nice to the car. I even got to experience the ever present danger that you deal with in the Elise, I avoided a hubcap mid lane-change. The thought of that flipping up and scaring the undertray scared the **** out of me.

I had barely pushed the car, but I was hooked. 10 minutes in that tiny nimble buzz box made my mind up. When we returned home I began scouring the local listings.

I bought mine in Jan 2010, It's been a great car. I daily drive the hell out of it.

The shift light comes on every day on my 40 mile commute (more like joy ride). I intentionally take the long way, theres a few twisty tree canopy roads en route, and a couple of great turns. She now has 85k miles, with many more coming.

It's not for everyone, but it is perfect for me :)


Here's me with your old friend:
 

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Good Write Maggie.
My you enjoy in your FIT as much as your Elise.
Happy to hear that, finally you have a second car now.
 

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Thank you for sharing, Maggie. We ordered our Elise in 2005, took delivery in 2006, and every day I am just as happy with it as the day the deposit was made. It's a good friend now, and has played many of the roles you described.
Congratulations on the Honda, and being a great pilot for your Loti!
 
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