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Got a chance at my frist test drive Monday am at Mid River.
Made and appointment the week before and drove for about four hours to get to dealership. Got meet the Elise parked out front all clean and pristine, each time I see one it assures me of how wonderful of an auto they are!
After crawling through every nook and cranny of it I was ready for a test drive. Steve Brown, the Lotus boss, started her up and suggested how to enter and exit the car and said lets go!! We went out the back roads of St Pete which was an excellent drive and nice way to get used to an unkown auto. Sevral curves and a nice straight section. This car is unbelievable to drive at any speed! Yes any speed, going slow or fast it just wants to be driven. The ride was very smooth even on a few potholes which was not exspected. The curves, what curves you could drive at what ever speed you were comfortable with. It just grabbed the blacktop and gave no sign of letting go! Not even a whisper from the tires!!
Steve had me read a statement from Lotus before we drove and explained the breakin and that we could for a short blast open her up to about 6500 rpm. :clap: :clap: :D We did this on an open straight and hit 80 mph in second and third gear!!!
We continued on the backroads for about 25 minutes and then went up on I370 and back on 170 to shop. This car is so incrediable to drive! Even at high speed you can still talk inside with the top off.
I would like to thank Steve for an excellent drive!!!! I then on the spot finished my order and now have to wait till mid winter for my car:(
The test drive was one of the best I have had. Totalled about 30 minutes and a great set of roads. Made my eight hour driving worth every penny!!!!
 

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Thanks for the report! It's my turn this afternoon. :D

I know that a lot of us were worried about the ownership change at the dealership. But I must say that so far things are still looking good. Steve called me with an update on delivery times a few weeks ago, and last week to make the appointment for the test drive. I have been quite impressed with the way he handles things.

The only change I heard about was somebody (I think it was Tom) here mentioning that vacated spots would be sold for market price, instead of moving deposit holders up the list. I don't have a big problem with that, even though I would obviously prefer the other approach.
 

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Yup, that's what I was told by one of the salemen (Mike Walsh). BTW, is Larry Clark still there? He was the first guy I talked to and I liked dealing with him but it didn't look like he was in on Monday when I stopped by.
 

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sonza68 said:
Yup, that's what I was told by one of the salemen (Mike Walsh). BTW, is Larry Clark still there? He was the first guy I talked to and I liked dealing with him but it didn't look like he was in on Monday when I stopped by.
Larry is still there, spoke to him on the phone a couple of weeks ago. This bites, I don't get to go there until mid Aug for my drive, hell my first look at an Elise!
 

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im just looking for some reassurance. i am also at behlmans but have never met any of the folks & have never had them call me. i have called them and they have been nice took my order said i would have car (new latest guess) by end of october (im #11). i just want to hear opinions from people that have actually met them. i guess im paranoid about getting my position in line jacked around since you cant get any difinitive answers anywhere. to quote frank burns " you would be paranoid to if everyone was out to get you."
 

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Larry Clark is the saleman I've dealt with most. He seems to be an honest straighforward guy, and didn't push too hard on selling the car. He seemed genuinely excited about the Elise coming in and brought me back into the office to show me the pics they had taken of the yellow car that stopped by on the way up to the Chicago Auto Show. The other people I met at that visit seemed nice as well.

Mike Walsh, the salesman I talked to on Monday, seemed more like your typical car salesman. He was more agressive on trying to get me to buy a car (any car) and that turned me off.

Those are the only two guys I've really dealt with that are still there. The new ownership doesn't appear to have made any drastics changes which is a good thing.
 

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Ok, so here are my test drive impressions. The good, the bad, and... well, there wasn't really anything ugly, and much more good than bad.

The good:
  • Driving position feels great. Not cramped at all.
  • I like the seats. Firm, but I think I would be comfortable in them for longer drives, without missing additional adjustments.
  • Steering wheel is great, too, nice and small.
  • The pedal spacing shouldn't be a problem. I drove it with regular shoes (around 9.5 size), and slightly grazed the brake while hitting the throttle the first time, but was fine for the rest of the drive. Driving shoes are probably a good idea for hard driving, but not strictly necessary.
  • I like the interiour, very tasteful, not too flashy.
  • The ride feels very compliant. Not harsh at all. Larger road irregularities obviously come through. But there's absolutely no bounciness, highway seams are perfectly absorbed.
  • I didn't miss power steering. It requires more effort than other cars, but it's a good kind of effort. :)
  • Getting in and out isn't that hard, at least with the top off. Getting in is a piece of cake. I'm sure that I didn't look very graceful climbing out the first time, but it was much better on the second attempt already.
  • Car looks awesome. It does create attention, one car pulled to our side on the highway, and gave thumbs up and big smiles.

A couple of negative things:
  • The shifter throws are very long. Feels more like rowing a boat than shifting a car. I might be able to get used to it, otherwise it's easy to fix. On the plus side, thanks to the low driving position, the shifter is close to the wheel, and very easy to reach.
  • Staying mostly under 4500 rpm (break in), the engine doesn't feel strong. Enough to keep the car moving during normal driving, but it looks like anything spirited will require reving the heck out of it, and shifting frequently. Shouldn't be a surprise, I guess, but I still expected a bit more low end. I was allowed to open it up once, and things definitely change when the high cams kick in.
  • Steering response wasn't as immediate and quick as I had hoped after reading all the tests.

In summary, I'm glad I ordered the Sport Pack. The standard suspension feels very comfortable to me (I daily drive an autocross prepped car), and I'll be more than fine with a harsher ride. I hope that the stiffer setup and tires will make the car more responsive. I can't say much about the overall handling, I never took the car even close to the limit. We were stuck behind a minivan for much of the drive, and I didn't want to do anything stupid on public roads and during a test drive anyway. I was also asked to follow break-in rules, and of course did. I can't wait to drive one in anger, though!

I would like to thank Steve Brown from MidRiver Lotus, he did a great job setting up the test drive, including a carefully planned route (the minivan wasn't his fault ;) ). I also talked to him for a while, and things sound good at the dealership. He is determined to keep his customers informed, and getting the cars delivered as promised. I saw the original waiting list that they will follow.

Some details for the locals: Larry is still there, he was very cheerful, and excited about the car. They have a new mechanic (Don?) who will be Lotus certified within the next few days. Tom Cullan still works for them part time.
 
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