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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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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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