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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I recently bought an 08 Elise SC coming from an 04 STI.

This is the first rear wheel drive, and first rear mid engine, sports car that I have ever owned.

Knowing myself, I like to go faster and faster. I'm hoping to avoid crashing the Lotus, and I feel like it has a much higher limit than what I am pushing the car to now.

Any advice you have or good resources you know of for information/cautions/pointers on driving a rear engine rear wheel drive, the Elise specifically?

I imagine that this car would tend to over-steer and spin out very quickly once rear traction is lost. Is this true? How to avoid this (skipping the obvious short answer: drive slow) and how to correct it once the car goes to spin. Is there time between feeling the car slip in the rear and totally spinning out, enough to correct? My STI was heavily modified, including mods and professional suspension set-up and testing to improve handling, and when I got too crazy or made a mistake the car would slip or slide very predictably, was easy to feel and control. Should I expect the Elise to be so forgiving? I don't have sport package. Just Elise SC with traction control, no LSD.

Things to consider. I am planing to not modify the car, after having had too many headaches with a previously modified car. I am also planning not to go to any track days or schools in the near future. But what do you guys with experience recommend as the best track schools? Any very good for Elise/Lotus?

Also, high speed question: do you feel that the Elise is in your experience stable at top speeds? So far I have kept the Lotus below 110. Before pushing it more, I'm just curious about people's experiences; the car feels very stable at top speeds, correct?

Thanks for any advice, reference, pointers, etc. I am totally new to rear wheel drive sports cars, and to rear mid engine cars.

If you know that these questions have been previously addressed in the forum before and know the links, please direct me there. I did some looking but thought that I would ask everyone's opinions/impressions/ideas anyway.

Thank you.

Brandon
 

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...autocross...

...the car's quite stable (but loud) at one-fourty - i haven't been any faster than that, but it generates a token amount of net downforce at speed, no lift...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Come on people, no pointers for a young guy who just bought a Lotus after years of drooling and dreaming, who generally drives too fast on the mountain roads, drives better than most people (owning normal cars) but who really doesn't know how to drive very well.
 

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The track days are probably worth doing.

I think that most people could drive an STI or EVO faster on general roads than Elise, and in the wet even more-so.
The 4wdr is very forgiving.

Luckily you can enjoy an Elise without being at or past the 100% mark.
 

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The elise is a great handling car but it can bite you in a big way.

The wheelbase is relatively short and the engine (as it's really FWD engine mounted in the back) is mounted higher than some other RWD cars (both front and mid mounted). This makes the car a little difficult to catch if it does go.

It's actually quite hard to cause power on oversteer unless the road surface is not ideal or you have alot of extra power. The chassis and rear grip is usually much more than what the engine can cause. This is why a limited slip dif for the N/A cars isn't needed and even for the S/C cars a 50/50 decision.

The classic cause of I would say most serious elise accidents is cause by lift off oversteer. I have one friend who went from hot FWD cars to his first Elise and managed to get just under 1 mile before having to get it recovered back to the dealer. He went around a roundabout he knows very well realised he was going a bit quick and braked. Que instant 720 spin and a rather sudden (but fortunately not terminal) meeting with a road sign.

You can try this yourself in a car park (even better after it's been raining). Just drive at 40mph in 2nd gear and turn the car so that you are turning as tight as you can (tyres probably squealing) without under or oversteering. Now just lift off the throttle and don't touch the wheel. Chances are you'll spin at least half way round but more likely a full 360. This is one of the training exercises that Lotus themselves teach on their excellent driver tutition days along with how to correct it.

Also you'll have to watch out for the Mid engine/RWD phenomenon of "tank slapping" (a motorbike term). If the back steps out the steering is quick enough and the car agile enough to easily overcorrect. So instead of holding a nice tail out moment the tail snaps the other way with much more ferocity than the original movement. It's possible to catch this too but you have to be very very quick and steady on the right foot. The only moment I have had in 10 years of various Elise's was this when avoiding a car on the motorway at night in the rain. In the end managed to stop safely but I would admit it wasn't under 100% control and a certain degree of luck in not hitting anything.

Ah yes - rain. Depending on the tyres you things can be between "difficult" or "scary" (yokohama tyres). The light weight and the wide front tyres mean the car can aquaplane at considerably lower speeds than normal cars. Not alot you can do other than be on the ball when in the rain as things happen very quickly.

Also remember you are in a very light and low car relative to other road users. Assume that you've not been seen by anybody and drive very definesively. I've lost count of the number of SUV's that have simply not seen the elise when turning. As for the weight issue should the worst happen and you are hit by another car then physics says you'll end up worse. The elise is a strong and resilient car but there are limits.

I've been involved in racing before owning my first elise (including one national trophy) and even then learnt huge amounts with the right driver training. Can't recommend it enough and you'll learn so much about having more fun in the car.

The elise is stable at high speeds as it's one of the few stock cars that has negative lift designed into it. However the short wheelase counts against this so just be aware.

Don't get upset if you find yourself going slower on the same roads in the elise than the scooby. The performance 4wd's (GTR, Evo, Scooby) are amazing road cars and you're going to have a hard time matching their pace on normal roads whilst still having the safety net. Still, get on the right track with limited straights and lots of bends you'll find that the elise can humble cars cost twice as much.
 

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... This is the first rear wheel drive, and first rear mid engine, sports car that I have ever owned.

Knowing myself, I like to go faster and faster. I'm hoping to avoid crashing the Lotus, and I feel like it has a much higher limit than what I am pushing the car to now.

Any advice you have or good resources you know of for information/cautions/pointers on driving a rear engine rear wheel drive, the Elise specifically? ...
Brandon
Read this:
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f100/midengined-cars-driving-691/
 

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Is there time between feeling the car slip in the rear and totally spinning out, enough to correct?
If you have not experienced it a good handful of times on the track under controlled circumstances, then no. For somebody who isn't used to it, loosing rear grip during a turn will bite him in the ass faster than he can think. That's why it's often referred to as "snap oversteer."

However, with proper training - and having experienced said oversteer a number of times and learning what the car feels like immediately prior and developing fast reflexes for that feeling - then yes it becomes much more predictable and controllable.

Also keep in mind that these cars are light weight and short wheelbased. As such they are VERY sensitive to small variances in setup. A car with a 1/16 front toe in feels very different than a car with a 1/16 front toe out, for example. The rear toe setting strongly effects how "snap" the loss of rear traction can be, as can tire compounds and pressures.

I STRONGLY suggest you do a few track events with an instructor to learn the feel and limits of YOUR car before you push very much on public streets.

xtn
 

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I've been involved in racing before owning my first elise (including one national trophy) and even then learnt huge amounts with the right driver training. Can't recommend it enough and you'll learn so much about having more fun in the car.
I STRONGLY suggest you do a few track events with an instructor to learn the feel and limits of YOUR car before you push very much on public streets.

xtn
I agree with the above statements...to truly appreciate the car and it's amazing abilities you have to get good Instruction.

I bought mine less than a year ago, first mid-engine car for me...took it to the track the day after I got it, and had a blast. I've done several track events, but I didn't get as fast as I wanted to - but just recently got good instruction and changed my whole philosophy on what makes you fast....car control and speed comes by being smooth and relaxed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for pointers. And Randy Chase is awesome, isn't he.

I am in Northern California; can anyone recommend good driving instructor, track school?

Thanks,

Brandon
 

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Some great tips here. :coolnana:

The Elise isn't my first sports car, but it is my first mid-engine car. Keeping the rules "Never lift" "don't over-correct" and "brake, then turn" in the back of my head while driving are paramount, however I plan on taking the car to a few HPDE's to ingrain those rules as 2nd nature with the car.
 
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