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Didn't Lotus do some pretty major suspension changes around 1986? I'd like to see a comparison.
 

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Myself as well! There is an on ramp from one major highway to a toll road I take almost every day. It is one of those flyover types, long curve to the left, up hill at first and then down.

In the past I have driven it in:

1990 300ZX Twin Turbo; fully modded suspension, 425 HP: Best speed on it was around 90 if memory serves

1989 Porsche 928 S4: Best speed on it was around 85ish, completely stock

1994 Lotus Esprit S4: SPAX shocks, no other suspension mods other than Eibach springs up front. Best speed: 98 MPH and was not feeling squirely

And as disclaimer, ALL attempts were in daylight, dry conditions, no other vehicles in sight on the ramp, etc.

So at least in my comparison Esprit won hands down.

The Z wanted to slide the rear around very badly. The 928 simply "wallowed", felt heavier and heavier. The Esprit, feels very planted, little body roll, as if it could do more.

Granted someone with better skills than I might have different results...
 

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I owned an 84 Turbo Esprit (88's and later were Esprit Turbos), and I can see how they came to their conclusions.

It was a great touring car, handling was ok, but not outstanding. Actually I damn near killed myself when I first got it, taking my favorite winding road deep in the eastern shore of MD. (a mini tail of the dragon stretch). I had driven that stretch dozens of times in my S2 Europa. Tried to drive it the same way, expecting the same limits as the Europa, and nearly lost it.

In an edition of R & T in 1984, they did a test of the Esprit and drew a lot of the same conclusions and C & D. Dan Gurney drove it back to back in a comparo with the 308 Ferrari on a track. He actually said the Lotus would be a little quicker except of fuel starvation on tight turns, but he noted the softer ride than the Ferrari.

In that very issue, they also tested the then brand new Honda CRX. The cover of that issue had the Esprit and the CRX, and the text saying: "CRX, more g's in turns and faster slalom than an Esprit and $40K less!"

Indeed, the CRX did pull more g's and had a considerably better slalom showing than the Esprit.

My impression of those early G bodied Turbo Esprits is that they were not meant to be a tossable 'best handling' car.

I'm surprised it was at the bottom of the comparo, but not surprised it wasn't near the top.
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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There is a difference between HANDLING and ROADHOLDING. Lotus always knew this.


Roadholding is how many Gs a car can achieve on a skidpad. The diameter and surface of the pad are giant variables.


More importantly, Handling encompasses roadholding and the ability if the driver to USE it's potential. C6 Corvettes generated great skidpad numbers but were difficult to drive at 9/10ths on a track.

The fuel starvation issue mentioned, is telling....
 

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I think the lack of weight in lotus vehicles makes them unstable at highspeeds. My exige just doesn't feel planted sometimes.
 

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There is a difference between HANDLING and ROADHOLDING. Lotus always knew this.


Roadholding is how many Gs a car can achieve on a skidpad. The diameter and surface of the pad are giant variables.


More importantly, Handling encompasses roadholding and the ability if the driver to USE it's potential. C6 Corvettes generated great skidpad numbers but were difficult to drive at 9/10ths on a track.

The fuel starvation issue mentioned, is telling....
Agreed about the difference between handling and roadholding, but they are interdependent.

Frankly, the CRX getting through the slalom more quickly was probably a function of its smaller size as much as anything else.

Was simply pointing out that in two components that help define handling characteristics, the first Turbo Esprits were not world beaters.

About the fuel starvation...I don't have the article in front of me, but I seem to recall it was on right handers. Gurney felt it was a function of the carbs.
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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I think the lack of weight in lotus vehicles makes them unstable at highspeeds. My exige just doesn't feel planted sometimes.
That's aero. (and somewhat, it could be alignment settings)


My wingless Esprit feels stable @ 130 MPH...but I still have the OE 12mm spacers in the back springs that give it a "rake".
 

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Audi Quattro vs. Porsche 911 and Six Others – Archived Comparison – Car and Driver


Check out this article from the 80s. I was shocked!

Please post your thoughts
If you see the rank of 8 out of 8 cars for the Lotus Esprit Turbo (1984 - it should be Turbo Esprit), you'd think the Esprit was outdated or outgunned in a tough crowd.

But looking at the C/D "Test Results" - how can a car that finished LAST have FOUR out of TEN #1 ranks in the columns? :scratchhead:

#3 smooth skidpad
#1 (tie) bumpy skidpad
#4 900 ft slalom
#1 lane change MPH
#1 braking into corner MPH
#7 acceleration out of corner MPH
#2 SCCS Pro Solo gymkhana
#5 (tie) Willow Spring track Turn 5 MPH
#1 Willows Springs lap average MPH
#2 (tie) objective score

Ah - silly me - the Esprit was a DISTANT 8 of 8 in the SUBJECTIVE SCORING! Of course that makes PERFECT SENSE! :scratchhead:
 

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Did you also notice the bottom 3 cars were:
Lotus Esprit
Ferrari 308
Porsche 911

Nice company!
 

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Something to note about the 80's Esprit's with 15" wheels front and back. The rear sidewall height is a lot taller than the front. This causes windup in the suspension.

I have an '88 Esprit and it was very disconcerting to load up the G's in a corner. The car would twist sideways thanks to sidewall deflection before breaking traction. If you went over a bump and broke traction, hang on! I subsequently switched to 16" rear wheels from an SE model. The lower rear sidewall reduced sidewall windup and created a driving experience that was much more balanced. In spirited driving the rear end will still break loose, however, it is communicative and easy to catch.

Just my $0.02
 
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