I drove one. My first Lotus experience. Not my last.
I've got a deposit well down the list at Fox Valley Motorcars and called over there today to ask about a test drive and got the thumbs-up. As always, the sales staff were friendly and courteous and I was soon riding shotgun while Mike drove a short circuit on the streets around the dealership. Soon enough it was my turn...and I'll never be quite the same.
The car did not have the LSS package that I have been thinking I want. After fooling around a bit in the car, the LSS package is definately something I want. The standard car is great, but I did find that I could provoke understeer a bit easier than I'd like, especially in slow-speed maneuvers (which matter to us autoxers of course). With that said, there is plenty of grip from the front (and rear for that matter) end and with less ham-fisted driving it just hangs on. Despite all that I've read, I was surprised by how much the car rolled during cornering...again, more evidence to me that the LSS will be a fine addition to the car.
It took me a bit to feel comfortable with the heaviness of the steering, but within a few corners I was OK with it. I kind of felt like I'd like the steering ratio to be a bit quicker though; it seemed like there were a few too many times where I had to either shuffle or drop a hand. I don't usually tend to shuffle steer that much, but I found myself doing it a lot more in the Elise. Possibly my driving just needs to improve. Ya think?
I was able to provoke some inside-rear wheel spin in 1st gear accelerating while turning right from a stoplight, so the LSD option will also be something I will continue to be interested in. As with the understeer talked about above, I think this issue is probably avoidable with appropriate driving, but the fact that I could get it as easily as I did makes me think the LSD is a good idea.
Acceleration was quite nice of course. At one point I stayed with a motorcycle that had noticed us and seemed to want to see if he could run away. OK, the speeds didn't go that high, but still...it was neat to see what the Elise will stay with. The noise from the motor surprised me...it sounds great. I wouldn't spend $1 to upgrade the sound.
Oh, speaking of sound, I had the radio off the whole time...who needs it?
The shifter was fine. I have read enough reports on Elise shifters to be a tiny bit concerned about it, but I found it to be quite pleasing. The pedals are very close together and for my size 10.5, normal width feet the dead pedal is useless. You can't rest on the dead pedal without hitting the clutch. However, the pedals are great for driving where you aren't resting your left foot. Even from the first heal-toe downshift my shifts were smooth and positive. I'm very happy with the shifter/pedal setup.
I didn't get the ABS to fire so nothing to report there.
Driving the car wasn't as huge a revelation as getting back into my Spyder was. The Spyder feels huge and cooshy compared to the Elise. The feeling of coosh continues into the driving. Everything is just a bit softer and a bit more wooly and the overall level of grip and communication just isn't there. I love my Spyder, but...
On another note, I chatted with the FVMC sales staff a bit about EliseTalk. I saw at least one Elise (Magnetic Blue) in their showroom that is being sold over sticker. They did not want to tell me which dealer the car came from since they don't want to go dragging other dealers' names through the mud. However, the VIN is there for all to see, so if someone wants to check their story I can't imagine that it would be hard to do. FWIW, the car does not have a sticker in any of its windows. I was told that the car was bought from dealer in a southern state for $10K over sticker and that FVMC is selling it for $13K over sticker.
I got the feeling that FVMC's reception here on EliseTalk may have made them gunshy from posting. Their description was, "We posted straight talk and got hammered over there." I have always found them to be straight shooting folks and I'm a bit disappointed that our community can chase good (as far as any of us can really tell so far) folks out with accusations that aren't based on facts. Like a lot of people, I like to question things (and given how many Elise enthusiasts feel like they've been treated like mushrooms, this makes sense) but I think we might want to consider questioning things in a somewhat more friendly way in the future.
Anyway, I have now been bitten and it is good.