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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So Im still a year out from making any purchase but now Im having trouble in a decision. Elise or Esprit? Never ridin in either but have seen em both at car shows and what not. First lotus I fell in love with was an 89 esprit but I like the styling of the elise. I dont plan on tracking whatever I buy. Either one is basically my dream car. Was planning on getting an Sti but then I started looking into lotus for kicks and a used lotus is in the same price range. ITll be a toy and probably DD in summer months. Selling all my little toys to get one I will really enjoy. Guess what Im getting at is what are the major differences between the two as far as comfort and handling. Does one tend to be more girlfriend friendly? Mine wasnt liking the looks of the seats in the elise. Reliability as well. Compare the 4 cylinders too, not the esprit V8. Im :wallbang: trying to decide but still have a year to do so. Thanks for the input.
 

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They're quite different, and yet quite similar at the same time. Both are very unique and get a fairly silly amount of attention (whether you want it or not), and both are a blast to drive.

So far as being "girlfriend friendly"-- if your girlfriend likes an Elise, and more to the point is happy getting into and out of one, marry her. The Esprit is considerably more comfortable and girlfriend-friendly, especially on long drives.

Reliability depends on many factors. A "well sorted" late model (00+) Esprit is arguably more reliable than an Elise, given the cam/rocker issues. If you're not going to track either, the oil and fuel starvation problems of the Elise likely won't matter.

To break it down a bit:

The Good:

Elise:

- Very unique styling.
- One of the most direct, visceral driving experiences to be had.
- Very light, compared to the Esprit.
- Relatively simple, compared to the Esprit, in both construction and maintenance.
- Relatively cheap to run/fix given the Toyota/Denso bits.
- Targa roof is cooler than the Esprit glass sunroof.
- Much more aftermarket support for go fast bits.

Esprit:

- Way, way more power, and the potential for much more.
- Torque. (Even with the US anti-torque ECU map)
- Very nice interior, very comfy while still retaining the "edgy" Lotus feel.
- Unique. You're unlikely to see another one on the road. Ever.
- Reasonable amount of cargo capacity, room for a spare tire, etc.
- Awesome brakes if you get an 00+ car with the AP units.
- Sounds fairly awesome, especially with straight pipes.


The Bad:

Elise:

- Painfully slow in N/A form.
- Cam/rocker problems, oil and fuel starve issues if you track it.
- Relatively fragile clams, expensive to replace if something goes bump in the night.
- Sounds like a lawnmower.
- Has the torque of a lawnmower unless you go forced induction (and even then...)
- PITA to get in/out of unless you're reasonably limber or have a high "I don't care, it's a race car" threshold for such things.
- Tiny cargo capacity, especially with a passenger.

Esprit:

- Gearbox is crap. Fixable for ~5k.
- Early cars had some cylinder liner issues. Not a problem with 00+
- Relatively difficult to work on for the uninitiated.
- Comparatively more expensive/difficult to get parts for than an Elise.
- Radiator is the biggest POS known to man. $500 fix for an aluminum unit.
- Ignition setup is stupid (coils under intake manifold).

Beyond that, they both have their idiosyncrasies so far as driving and maintenance go. Both are a lot of fun to drive.

I'm ignoring the 4-cyl Esprit as none of my experiences with them have been especially good, and without the V8 a lot of the "good things" about the car go away, for me at least.
 

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The Elise has the main advantage of newer technology and construction. That means parts are not an issue.
Parts are not too bad of a problem on the 4 pots if you have the time and know where to look.
If you are not a wrench monkey best stay away from the older cars or be prepared to hook up with a good mechanic and have cash on hand.
Not all older Esprits are problem children, actually the 4 pots are fairly reliable if well taken care of and most importantly, driven regularly.
I have an 89 Esprit with 105,000 miles on the clock. It's had some problems, most of which could have been avoided if I had known a bit more. The engine has yet to be opened and is still putting out some good power according to a recent dyno run.
Personally I prefer the Esprit to my wifes 05 Elise in terms of comfort and space. But if I had to rely on others for repairs I would think a bit differently.

As far as the female factor, my question is, who are you getting the car for?

If you get to the point of going with an Esprit, go with the latest 4 cylinder you can find, a 95 or 96 S4, S4s, or Sport 300. The older the car the greater the chances of problems.
If you can get someone with Esprit experience to take a look at your possible buy that would be a bonus and could possibly save you some head/heartache.

Last tip/suggestioon.....don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you can and do as much reading up as possible. A good source of info on Esprits is the Lotus Esprit Forum. A U.K. based site with a lot of people who can provide good background info.

Good luck
 

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They're quite different, and yet quite similar at the same time. Both are very unique and get a fairly silly amount of attention (whether you want it or not), and both are a blast to drive.

So far as being "girlfriend friendly"-- if your girlfriend likes an Elise, and more to the point is happy getting into and out of one, marry her. The Esprit is considerably more comfortable and girlfriend-friendly, especially on long drives.

Reliability depends on many factors. A "well sorted" late model (00+) Esprit is arguably more reliable than an Elise, given the cam/rocker issues. If you're not going to track either, the oil and fuel starvation problems of the Elise likely won't matter.

To break it down a bit:

The Good:

Elise:

- Very unique styling.
- One of the most direct, visceral driving experiences to be had.
- Very light, compared to the Esprit.
- Relatively simple, compared to the Esprit, in both construction and maintenance.
- Relatively cheap to run/fix given the Toyota/Denso bits.
- Targa roof is cooler than the Esprit glass sunroof.
- Much more aftermarket support for go fast bits.

Esprit:

- Way, way more power, and the potential for much more.
- Torque. (Even with the US anti-torque ECU map)
- Very nice interior, very comfy while still retaining the "edgy" Lotus feel.
- Unique. You're unlikely to see another one on the road. Ever.
- Reasonable amount of cargo capacity, room for a spare tire, etc.
- Awesome brakes if you get an 00+ car with the AP units.
- Sounds fairly awesome, especially with straight pipes.


The Bad:

Elise:

- Painfully slow in N/A form.
- Cam/rocker problems, oil and fuel starve issues if you track it.
- Relatively fragile clams, expensive to replace if something goes bump in the night.
- Sounds like a lawnmower.
- Has the torque of a lawnmower unless you go forced induction (and even then...)
- PITA to get in/out of unless you're reasonably limber or have a high "I don't care, it's a race car" threshold for such things.
- Tiny cargo capacity, especially with a passenger.

Esprit:

- Gearbox is crap. Fixable for ~5k.
- Early cars had some cylinder liner issues. Not a problem with 00+
- Relatively difficult to work on for the uninitiated.
- Comparatively more expensive/difficult to get parts for than an Elise.
- Radiator is the biggest POS known to man. $500 fix for an aluminum unit.
- Ignition setup is stupid (coils under intake manifold).

Beyond that, they both have their idiosyncrasies so far as driving and maintenance go. Both are a lot of fun to drive.

I'm ignoring the 4-cyl Esprit as none of my experiences with them have been especially good, and without the V8 a lot of the "good things" about the car go away, for me at least.
I cannot believe I just read a post that claimed an Esprit is more reliable than an Elise, that the interior on the Esprit is more comfortable than the Elise (you must not be over 6'0"), and that the Elise is painfully slow in stock form.

I guess everyone has their opinions, but I disagree with all of those claims. No offense meant, just trying to add a counter point for the potential buyer.

My advice is to look all factors before making a purchase. Check out the difference in maintinence costs between an Elise and an Esprit; the Esprit is much more expensive to own. Keep in mind too that they are two very different vehicles. I think test driving each will make the answer much clearer.
 

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I cannot believe I just read a post that claimed an Esprit is more reliable than an Elise
I can count the V8 issues I've had on one hand with fingers left over. The Elise certainly would be more reliable were it not for the cam/rocker issue. I would say that eclipses the few Esprit sensors I've had to replace over the years.

that the interior on the Esprit is more comfortable than the Elise (you must not be over 6'0"),
I'm 6'4. I fit in both cars quite well. However, the Esprit has leather that, you know, covers things, seat padding of substance, and a more comfortable seating position in terms of hip and leg room. I don't need to jam my thigh into the steering wheel to get reverse on an Esprit, for example.

There's nothing specifically wrong with the Elise interior if you're of the typical "who cares, it's light" mindset, I like it just fine, but the Esprit is more comfortable by any rational measure.

and that the Elise is painfully slow in stock form.
Sorry, but it is. The cars have an "acceptable" level of performance round about the 300 hp mark. If you think half a minute to top 130 is "fast", I would suggest that you haven't driven many cars that are, indeed, fast.

And please, spare me the usual "it's fast in the corners!!!111oneone" stuff. The car is underpowered in stock trim by an reasonable performance benchmark of current sports cars.

I love the Elise as much as the Esprit. However, I'm not a Lotus apologist and won't gloss over the issues the cars have, fun as they might be. Hence my relatively impartial comparison between the two.
 

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I can count the V8 issues I've had on one hand with fingers left over. The Elise certainly would be more reliable were it not for the cam/rocker issue. I would say that eclipses the few Esprit sensors I've had to replace over the years.



I'm 6'4. I fit in both cars quite well. However, the Esprit has leather that, you know, covers things, seat padding of substance, and a more comfortable seating position in terms of hip and leg room. I don't need to jam my thigh into the steering wheel to get reverse on an Esprit, for example.

There's nothing specifically wrong with the Elise interior if you're of the typical "who cares, it's light" mindset, I like it just fine, but the Esprit is more comfortable by any rational measure.



Sorry, but it is. The cars have an "acceptable" level of performance round about the 300 hp mark. If you think half a minute to top 130 is "fast", I would suggest that you haven't driven many cars that are, indeed, fast.

And please, spare me the usual "it's fast in the corners!!!111oneone" stuff. The car is underpowered in stock trim by an reasonable performance benchmark of current sports cars.

I love the Elise as much as the Esprit. However, I'm not a Lotus apologist and won't gloss over the issues the cars have, fun as they might be. Hence my relatively impartial comparison between the two.
Your posts are humorous. Please keep going. Its odd, you are the first person over 6'0" that thinks the Esprit interior is confortable. Its also funny that you think the cam/rocker issue is more previlent than Esprit engine issues. Im glad yours has not had problems, I would say you are in the minority. I would also say the many Elise owners I know that have never had a single issue with their Toyota 4 cylinder and they are in the majority.

I have not driven cars that are fast, again hilarious. I'm not going to justify my experiences, think what you want. "Acceptable" level of performance around 300hp? Did you grow up driving Toyota Atlantic cars?

For the record, some performance numbers from a V-8 Esprit:

Esprit Road Tests

And for an Elise:

2007 Lotus Elise - Specs - Car and Driver

So we have 0-60 for the Esprit being .4 seconds quicker, and the quarter being only .6 seconds quicker. Yes, clearly the dog slow Elise needs over 110 more horsepower to be "acceptable." I also believe an Exige S (220 hp) will outrun the Esprit V-8 in that test...

Follow-Up Test: 2007 Lotus Exige S

Ah yes, it does. So does that mean the Esprit V-8 is well below acceptable, if a 220 hp Exige outruns it and the Elise/Exige needs 300 hp to be "acceptable?"

All I can say is I am completely impartial as I own neither car, can you say the same? :panic:
 

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And all of the above is completely irrelevant, as the person who started the thread asked to compare 4-cylinder Esprits to Elises. :thwack:


DeepAmpeg:

They are very different cars.

The Esprit (let's say an S4 or S4s, the fastest and most reliable of the 4-cylinder variants sold in the U.S.) is an old school, classic exotic/supercar; whereas the Elise is a modern "lightweight" (not when compared to old Lotus) track car for the road.

Regarding girlfriend-friendly, the Esprit is more comfortable in that it has more cabin space and is a quieter ride; the Elise, however, will just about put your girlfriend in your lap (the seats are right next to each other), which may make that the more fun car! :)

The Esprit will ultimately cost more to service and maintain . . . but the Elise will lose more to depreciation. Ultimately, you're also comparing a ~14 year old car to a late model car; Some Esprit enthusiasts refer to the S4s as "the Toyota of Esprits," meaning that they had achieved excellent reliability by that point . . . however, they're all old cars today.

Regarding comfort, I think any later 4-cylinder Esprit will win; regarding handling, you're comparing a 2000-lb car to a ~2700-lb car . . . you do the math!

- T
 

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I've owned an S4s, a couple of V8s, and 05 and 06 Elises, and 06 and 07 Exiges as my basis for comparison.

Unequivocally, the Elise/Exige cars are more reliable. Period. As far as I'm concerned, it's essentially not even debatable. Plus when things DO break, on the Elise/Exige they seem to fall into the "annoyance" category vs. the oh s**t category when things go wrong on the Esprits.

Also, my understanding is that parts for the Esprit 4-cyl are getting somewhat hard to find.

As for the driving experience, again, the Elise/Exige cars are superior IMHO, particularly if you are talking about the SC cars. The handling is no contest. The Elise/Exige cars are better balanced, offer quicker lateral response and superior braking. The only place the Esprit offers an advantage is with regard to torque, and I'll admit that in either the 4 or the 8 it *feels* substantially stronger (though as someone above pointed out, the actual numbers don't necessarily bear that out). I suspect that over 100mph the difference is substantially in favor of the Esprit. But I wouldn't trust an Esprit going into a corner at 150mph anyway.

Comfort is so subjective.. I find the cars wholly different - the Elise/Exige cars are louder and rougher but I actually find the seats more comfortable (the Esprit seats are flat and wide and offer a lack of support - I'm 5'10/190).

The AC in the Elise/Exige is weak, but every Esprit I have owned had serious overheating issues in the summer (in Texas). So on one hand you will be hot as hell but moving in your Elise, but hot as hell and stuck somewhere in your Esprit. (To be fair, I understand there are simple cooling solutions now for the V8 cars - unknown on the 4 cyl).

Finally, Esprits have the worst steering wheel ever seen on an exotic.
 

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Its also funny that you think the cam/rocker issue is more previlent than Esprit engine issues.
Please feel free to draw a comparison between reported Elise cam failures and Esprit engine failures of a comparable magnitude. Or, hell, simply go ahead and post up your own, personal experiences with both cars. You know, like I did.

I would also say the many Elise owners I know that have never had a single issue with their Toyota 4 cylinder and they are in the majority.
While it's nice that you've known people who haven't had issues, I've actually worked on several examples of both engines in question, and several dozen other Toyota engines of note. Hence, I think I'll carry on taking my experience for what it is, rather than defer to your second hand impressions. :rolleyes:

I have not driven cars that are fast, again hilarious. I'm not going to justify my experiences, think what you want. "Acceptable" level of performance around 300hp? Did you grow up driving Toyota Atlantic cars?
Out of curiosity, is it possible for you to respond in a manner other than an ad hominem? I'll take this to mean that you in fact do not have any significant experience with what I would consider a "fast" street car.

So we have 0-60 for the Esprit being .4 seconds quicker, and the quarter being only .6 seconds quicker. Yes, clearly the dog slow Elise needs over 110 more horsepower to be "acceptable." I also believe an Exige S (220 hp) will outrun the Esprit V-8 in that test...
Break out the bench racing red herrings! First, I did not draw any direct comparison between the Esprit V8 and an Elise, as you imply I did. I said an Elise, not an Exige S, is underpowered and slow out of the box. Moreover, my point was to illustrate the respective baseline performance of the two cars in question. An Esprit needs very little encouragement to be what I consider a "fast" street car. A base Elise needs quite a lot.

As well, my analysis is based on a few more metrics than magazine-published 0-60 times. Torque matters. Midrange power matters. Subjective "speed" as experienced in real-world driving matters. These are things that are typically not taken into consideration by your average bench racer, and no small wonder given that they rarely have half a clue what they're yapping about.

So does that mean the Esprit V-8 is well below acceptable, if a 220 hp Exige outruns it and the Elise/Exige needs 300 hp to be "acceptable?"
That means an Esprit V8 is more fun to drive out of the box, and easier to make faster, which despite your attempts to spin, is what I alluded to originally.

All I can say is I am completely impartial as I own neither car, can you say the same?
Nope, I'm afraid not. I actually have owned both, several times over, and at the moment currently own both, each of which being in a relatively high state of tune. Put simply, I know what the hell I'm talking about as I've driven, built, broken and all-together enjoyed both of the cars in question (including a 4-pot Esprit) for many years.

If your intent was to suggest that your regurgitation of magazine performance figures somehow invalidates that experience, I'd say you've failed pretty spectacularly, and have served only to ruin an otherwise useful and informative thread. Good job. :clap:
 

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i've owned an Esprit V8 (still miss the car) and currently an Exige S. basically, if you want to use the car often, and what matters most is living your dream of owning a Lotus, i would say go with the Esprit -fork out the extra dough for the new dash V8 as the old 4cyl. really looks dated (apologies to the owners) and the visibility is quite difficult. i never had any problems with my V8 Esprit.

the esprit is more comfortable, faster and looks damn good. the exige is a handling and feedback monster (no other road car can match) but just too small and uncomfortable for daily driving. i rarely bring out my Exige except for track events.

my esprit had upsized 3pc. wheels and leather sparco bucket seats and slightly lowered suspension. i kid you not when i say that 'till this day i find the car so sexy and wish i still had it.

but i cannot complain as well with the Exige S as i've never driven anything like it. but for more common use, i'd stick with the Esprit. good luck.
 

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For you Fuzz... get yourself a Buzzbomb!

So Im still a year... Elise or Esprit?

Does one tend to be more girlfriend friendly? Mine was not liking the looks of the seats in the Elise.

Reliability as well. Compare the 4 cylinders too, not the Esprit V8.
The Buzzer is a newer design propelled by a pretty dependable Rice-a-Roni powertrain. It's a much more basic vehicle than the Esprit but you're a first time Lotus owner so the match will be better. ;)

The Esprit is an awesome sports car and much better looking than our beloved Buzzbomb. Stick with the V-8 models though. My '98 has been working like a hose all these years. Just had a compressor blow out a few weeks ago but since it came off a 1998 Pontiac Grand Am it only cost me $140 or so.

Good luck.


:shift:
 

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i adored my v-8, but when i sold it i could afford to buy a bigger house. this is not an exaggeration. my exige isn't as comfortable, sexy, or fast in a straight line, but it has been completely reliable, and i find myself laughing out loud almost every time i turn the steering wheel.
 

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Then you've found your match compadre!

I find myself laughing out loud almost every time I turn the steering wheel.
Sports car ownership is so very subjective. The bottom line is if the vehicle makes you happy. Reading how you describe that Scheiss-eating grin... you are there! rotfl



:up:
 

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Besides TonyK’s, and another local's v-8, I’ve never sat in an Esprit, but I think you’re really going to have to try them yourself DeepAmpeg before you can come close to a decision. I only have Lotus experience with my Elise but even compared to my MR-2’s, the Elise is such a different car that a test drive was needed to understand what I was getting into.

With the girl friend friendly issue, my Elise has gotten mixed reviews, and I think it is all going to come down to the attitude of your girl. I used to date a thin athletic woman who was younger than me, and she hopped in and out of my Elise with no problem at all. But most women I know usually think the exterior of the Elise is cute, but only one (who defiantly has a more adventuresome spirit than most) actually seems to enjoy riding in the car. My current girlfriend has commented that she does not feel safe in my Elise, and prefers that we drive her Rav-4, or my old Toyota Paseo, unless we are going somewhere where she specifically wants to show off a bit.

The Esprit and an Elise seem like such different beasts to me (one a clasic super-car, the other a modern roadster) that it is going to come down to the qualities that you personaly want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow thanks for all the replies guys. Gives me a lot to consider. Like I said ever since I saw that 89 esprit as a kid I told myself I will have one. Now 20 some odd years later Im at that point. This will be a second car /toy so if something were to happen I will always have my suby. Im a gear head and have no problem fixing cars. Saves alot of money too haha. It will probably simply come down to the best deal I can find as I would be very happy with either car. Still got a year before I get real serious but gives me plenty of time to make a decision. As for the GF yeah Im frikn lucky I found her. Lets me do what makes me happy. She too likes riding in suvs and doesnt feel safe in smaller cars. But she will ride on my motorcycle and loves it. Still trying to figure that one out haha. Thanks again for all the info.
 

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I owned a '99 V8 Esprit for Ten years. Six of those as a daily driver. Loved the car, the design, the speed. I recently took the plunge and traded it for an Elise. It was basically the only car (another Lotus) I would have considered trading it for. It is a completely different car, yet as others have mentioned.... has the same DNA. All I can say is that there is something very special about this Elise, something I didn't expect and something I certainly never had in the Esprit. The Esprit was a great car, but comes from a different mind set. It is a car built for speed. But compared to the Elise, a more muted driving experience. The Elise is in a class of its own, it is not about speed, it s about the driving experience. As others have mentioned, it is this driving experience, so direct, that I can only compare to riding my motorcycle... it keeps a smile on my face.
Regarding the Esprit, I can say that I didn't have too many issues during my time with it, but when they came, they where serious, and seriously expensive. Both are great cars, one is a sort of a poor-mans ferrari, and the other one an street legal overpriced go-cart.... you gotta love them both though....
 

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Your posts are humorous. Please keep going. Its odd, you are the first person over 6'0" that thinks the Esprit interior is confortable.
OK, I'll be number 2. I'm 6'3" and 225 lbs and an Esprit is exquisitely comfortable. The only time it's "close" is with a helmet on.

Its also funny that you think the cam/rocker issue is more previlent than Esprit engine issues. Im glad yours has not had problems, I would say you are in the minority. I would also say the many Elise owners I know that have never had a single issue with their Toyota 4 cylinder and they are in the majority.
They are. But I also had an Esprit for 9 years and 8 months and spent under $2,500 in TOTAL maintenance costs (planned and unplanned) over nearly 65,000 miles.

All I can say is I am completely impartial as I own neither car, can you say the same? :panic:
Stupid is forever, ignorance can (usually) be fixed. Write about what you know, not what you imagine. :no:

To DeepAmpeg, the cars are so utterly different in character that you must drive both to know which you prefer. The Esprit is a large car, huge footprint, over 1,000 pounds heavier. The Elise is a much smaller car, so much more nimble that driving the Esprit began to feel like driving a pickup truck. Neither car is slow. For Elise owners who need more horsepower, the answer is a supercharger. I have one and the car is just all I could ask for. Check 'em both out, buy the one you truly love. :up:
 

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I have been lurcking here for a while gathering info due to being in your situation..... I wasn't sure elise/exige or esprit. I have decided to go with a exige even though I haven't been lucky enough to ride/drive one yet, only been at drivers schools with modded esprite's. Anyways, what scares me away from the esprite's is the chances of getting a car that needs LOTS of expensive repairs. I originally wanted a S4/S4s however the more I read the more people point to the V8's. Then it's back to breaking tranies (my saab does that & I am sick of $8K trannies) & who knows what else so a exige is what I will do. I will definantly not do a N/A one since they are VERY slow even though their 0-60 mag times are good, above that they die off.

I would just keep reading this site to keep up with issues people are having (good or bad)with both cars & make your decision when the right car comes up for sale.
 

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Depends what qualities you like and what you're used to... my last car was turbocharged, so had a torque all over the place like the Esprit. I was surprised by how long it took me to get used to the Elise - having to get the revs way up to get some decent thrust. I'm still not fully there. Sure, the Elise is faster the my old car when its being driven like a race car, but I find I have to work at it. The last time I drove an Esprit (4-cyl SE), in my opinion, it was soooo much easier to drive fast, even if it was just the sensation. I'm not a racer, so its very likely that group feels differently.
 
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