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Discussion Starter #1
Here's a except from a WCLM report in the next issue of the GGLC's newsletter....

Driving the Elise at the WCLM Autocross

I had the honors of taking the first run in the Elise, Clyde as my passenger. A number of Europas, Elans and Esprits had already run. Best time was around a 47 or 48 second run. I pulled to the line and at the drop of the green did a launch with about 3000 rpm. The engine seemed bog a bit, there was no wheel spin.

Barry Spencer had designed the course to try to suit the variety of cars; the first section was open and fast. From the start box there was a short straight that led into a right-left-right box, then into a 2 cone slalom. That opened to a wide straight section to the far end of the course with a big open right hand 180 sweeper. The exit got narrow and straight allowing a driver to get sorted out. That led into a 5-cone slalom followed immediately by a tight 180 hairpin. Then there was a staggered step run to the left into a 90 right, a burst, and another 90 right. Next was a short straight, a 3-cone slalom and “you-better-slow-down” tight right-left into the finish.

Thus the course was open and fast in parts for the Esprit drivers and had tight corners and slaloms for the Elan and Europa guys. Nice fun course that was easy to follow.

Back to the Elise, foot planted I accelerated out of the start box, did a quick twitch to get through the box, up shifted, then around the first cone of the slalom and then a slight lift before apexing on the 2nd cone. Down the straight the engine came on cam (the Toyota VVT-Li engine lights up at 6200), brakes (not hard) and into the sweeper with a hint of understeer that was quickly balanced to neutral with some throttle – NICE!

Around the sweeper we went, finishing with a late apex, foot flat heading toward the 5-cone slalom. I stayed on the power past the first cone then braking for the 2nd and dashed in-and-out through the slalom. The Elise stayed flat, poised and went EXACTLY where I pointed it. The steering was PERFECT.

Past the 5th cone, braked hard (I never felt the ABS) for the tight 180. On this initial run I stayed in 2nd gear, the engine bogged a bit on exit so on later runs I was dropping to 1st gear and getting power oversteer on corner exit. If you overcooked the entry the Elise would push and you’d have to wait for it to hook up and then back on the power, but with the right entry speed you could get into the corner, get on the power early and get a nice dose of power oversteer.

It was then a hard acceleration, a brake tap for the right hander, back on the throttle, another brake tap, around the right and back on the throttle to the 3-cone slalom. Brake into the 2nd cone, flick the steering wheel and accelerate past the 3rd cone and through the right-left in the finish. This last bit was amazing, I watched the other cars tackle this right-left, everyone was off the throttle or braking into it. But, in the Elise I was able to accelerate with my foot flat into and through it to the finish.

My time for that first run, a low 44, some 3-4 seconds faster than all the cars that had run prior! WOW!!! And, more to the point I felt that I had left 2-3 seconds on course! In subsequent runs I was able to get into the low 42s. The top time of the day went to the Elise S190 with a solo driver, softer tires and track suspension, beating the new Elise by 1/10th of a second! This Elise was the base suspension and makes me wonder how much faster the Sport Suspension Pack would be. 2 seconds? More?

Kiyoshi
 

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It's nice to read your description while remembering the video of Randy going though the course.
 

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41.3 seconds.

:p
 

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The evidence ...

 

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heh...

I have been given an award for hitting more cones than anyone else. :) You have to push the envelope to know where the edges are.

I did the Mazda rev-it-up and was surprised (I missed this in the chalk talk) that "touching" cones counted against you. I said "yeah, I try to touch them." :)
 

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Some more impressions

I have spent the last 15 years autocrossing midengined MR2s, the last few years in Spyders and my shifter kart. I think this gives me a good basis of comparison. How does the Elise stack up against them?

The Elise has phenominal turn in. Just flick the wrist and it goes. This is much more nimble than the MR2s were, much closer to what my shifter kart can do. Heading into offset gates, I was able to maintain speed and just flick the steering wheel and the response was immediate. Snick. Almost aim for the cones. Flick. Snick.

Acceleration was brisk. Like my experience autocrossing an S2000, below the power band, it feels like it could be faster, but it was still accelerating quite well. The red shift light took some getting used to (red lights coming on, on the dash, are normally a bad thing). It also took some getting used to, to keep the car in the upper power band, I need to get better at that. I fought the urge to shift at 6500rpms. :) You knew when the cam change over happened... you could feel the extra power come on instantly. Not abrupt, I don't think it's something that will upset the car on the track. Just all of a sudden, there is more power there, like the car got it's second wind. It's brief though... you will be shifting or braking for the next corner shortly.

Slaloms were amazing. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I attacked the slaloms. My slalom technique is always a bit brutal, the hell with smoothness (works for me!). :) Stab or lift, stay ahead of the cones, mash the throttle...all the while without upsetting the car...get it to rotate around each cone and maximize speed. To my surprise, I was going through the slaloms at the same speed I would in my MR2, which is quite well prepped and on racing Hoosier tires. What? On street tires? Wow.

The turn arounds were a test of the car's balance. You could create an understeer condition by overdriving the corner, but it was also very easy to correct by opening up the slip angle of the front tires and adjusting throttle. If you managed your corner entry speed and applied throttle to the apex, you could do so wth minimal understeer. On the 180 degrees turns, I modulated the throttle because of understeer, but inside rear wheel spin never showed (which may be a factor of the asphalt and street tires).

Oversteer was easy to induce also with a lift or in some cases, power on. In other words, the balance for this non-Sport Suspension car was pretty neutral.

One thing that surprised me (this is on the video I took) was when I screwed up a corner and started to lose it, the correction was interesting because the car grabbed and regained traction almost too quick. It surprised me. I had to quickly react to get the car pointed straight again.

ABS was not obvious. I never noticed it. On this course, the finish was a tight wiggle and then too short (like 30 feet) of stopping room. I felt like the car was threshold braking as I could feel the tires chirping and doing very small amounts of lock up under very hard braking.

In general, this car was a lot more than I expected since it was not a sport suspension car and it was on street tires. After a few runs, I was able to do 41 second runs consistently, which I think was quick compared to the race tire shod Europa and the Sport 190. I think also, the car was easy to drive, very intuitive. A very good driver can get more out of it, but I think a newer driver will be instantly rewarded also.

This car really works. The big question left in my mind, just like Kiyoshi asked... is how much better would a sport suspension car with sticky tires be?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Nice!!!! :)

I really enjoyed my ride with you!!!:D

The Elise felt almost like my Seven on slicks. Great turn-in, understeer if you carried too much speed into a corner, precise steering, power on oversteer (it had a Quaife), fantasitc transients. This car may pull me back into AutoXing on a regular basis (for those that know me, I'm still gettin' back on the track with my 41, so no worries...).

I'm going to crib your write-up and stick it on the GGLC site...

Cheers!
Kiyoshi
 

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Kiyoshi & Randy- Thanks for the feedback, the comparison to the MR2 really helps. Being 800 lbs lighter and with a very stiff chassis and Lotus ability to tune the handlling, wouldn't expect less. Been wavering a bit about spending this much money on a toy, when I've got a low mileage modded MR2 Turbo. You guys are making it easier for me to stay the course.
 
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