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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Overview
The regional engineer from Lotus gave us an unplanned demonstration of the hilarity involved in getting in and out of one of the company's Elise convertibles.

When he dropped off our press loaner this month in Manhattan, the car washed away any chance we had of missing it as he drove by--a Camry from Toyota Motor (nyse: TM - news - people ) will dwarf the Elise when idling next to it at a stoplight--thanks to its deep, fierce aubergine purple paint (about which we received several comments from pedestrians, such as "Oh man. That's the right color, bro").


HIGHS:
Among the best-handling cars you'll ever see. Lightweight body + high-revving Toyota motor = lots of fun. Gets a ton of attention.

LOWS:
Among the worst city rides you'll ever experience. Comically uncomfortable. Requires no personal insecurities about size.

When the engineer pulled up at the curb, he opened the driver's door of the tiny, go-kart-like toy. He threw one leg over the enormous ledge that runs between the seat and the door. Then he changed his mind. Then we saw fingers grabbing at the roof of the vehicle, and a couple of surges outward from the guy's feet and knees, then another retreat back into the vehicle.

The next thing we saw was an upward-pointing head emerging from the top of the driver's window, the way a mechanic's head comes forward when he slides out from underneath a car. Presumably using his legs as a lever to project himself outward as such, the engineer unfastened the Elise's black, manual-folding cloth convertible top, rolled it toward the center of the car to expose the cockpit to the chilly November air, and then--finally--he was able to turn around, open the door and somehow catapult himself past the ledge and on to the street.

We knew then that one's wife--or mother, for that matter--would never look appropriate entering or exiting this vehicle. A weekend of testing the car confirmed that once you're in it, you will need at least 30 to 60 seconds to get out of it--and no, there's no way to look cool while you do it.

Since it introduced the Elise eight years ago, Lotus has sold more than 10,000 models of the car worldwide, even though it only went on sale this summer in the U.S. Waiting lists are long for the 2005 convertible, for which some U.S. dealers began taking orders in 2001.

Group Lotus, the legendary British race- and sports-car manufacturer, seemed in the 1990s to be headed for extinction. It left Formula 1 racing in 1995, and Lotus Cars USA has been barely visible in the U.S. in the last few years, selling only the V-8-powered, ultra-low-volume Esprit supercar.

But serious automotive enthusiasts bring Lotus up in serious conversations about the best sports-car manufacturers of all time. Having been bailed out of some financial troubles by the Proton Group, a Malaysian carmaker that acquired it in 1996, Lotus now has a chance to expand, thanks to the higher-volume Elise. The company will bring another vehicle to America in 2006.

Lotus builds the Elise by hand in a new, high-tech factory at its headquarters in Hethel, England. The factory will allow Lotus to bring more cars at higher volumes into export markets such as the U.S. Read on to see if this is news about which you should be excited.
http://www.forbes.com/2004/11/22/cx_dl_1122test.html?partner=daily_newsletter
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Forbes.com page 2 of 4

Test Drives
Page 2 of 4 from 2005 Lotus Elise
Dan Lienert

Is it a toy from Santa or an urban nightmare? You decide.
From The Driver's Seat
We have to evaluate the experience of driving an Elise from two perspectives: as sports car enthusiasts and as human beings.

From the latter perspective, we can't justify spending over $40,000 on a car that is this impractical and has such a primitive, almost punishing interior--especially considering that General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) sells the faster, more powerful and more comfortable Chevrolet Corvette for a few thousand dollars more.

One 6-foot-3-inch member of our editorial staff was excited to drive the Elise, but could not reasonably fit into the driver's seat in order to operate the vehicle. His knees were touching the steering wheel when he gave up and got out before ever putting the car in gear.

The cramped seats fit into a vehicle that has all the creature comforts of a shower at a truck stop. Electric windows are not standard, and electric mirrors are not available. The trunk barely holds a courier-style bag, and might not fit a backpack. The pedals sound and feel as if they're being held together with mousetrap springs.

Worst of all is the optional "performance suspension," which makes for smooth sailing on the track but makes the car ride like a buckboard in New York City.

"As soon as you hit a pothole," the engineer told us, "you'll learn to avoid them at all costs."

So we learned to hunt for well-maintained straightaways and corners, where the Elise thrives--and where sports car enthusiasts salivate over it. The main attraction in terms of performance is a vehicular layout that feels like that of a go-kart. Talk to instructors at racing schools about which new vehicles excite them, and they'll mention cars like the Elise and BMW's Mini Cooper. This is because they love handling--response to steering forces--and tiny, nimble cars like the Elise deliver it better than any other kind on the roads.

The rear accommodates the engine--and virtually no cargo.

Like that of a go-kart or a race car, the Elise's engine is behind the passenger compartment. The Lotus uses a Toyota-built, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine with 190 hp. That's a lot of power for a small engine, and when you put it in a vehicle that weighs 550 pounds less than a Toyota Corolla (1,984 pounds versus 2,530 pounds), you have a fun time. According to Lotus, the Elise accelerates from 0 mph to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

The delivery of that acceleration is exhilarating. The Elise's pedals don't have a smooth-as-velvet feel like those of, say, a Volvo from Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ), but their speed, efficiency and responsiveness compare favorably to those of race cars. Working the gas, brake and clutch pedals in the Elise feels as if one is pressing computer buttons that execute textbook applications and transfers of the car's power.

The Elise revs high. Its power does not peak until 7,800 rpm, at which point it growls as if it had a V-8. (Stay tuned to see if that Celica motor hold ups long-term under race car-like applications.) Indeed, the car's thrilling exhaust noise is at all speeds surprisingly low-pitched for a four-cylinder car.

Turns are the best, though, where the Elise's compact but efficient steering wheel from specialist Momo is dead-on at all times. As the Elise sticks to its arc the way a race car does--like a magnet--you, the steering wheel and the engine have a feeling of oneness that one seldom experiences in a car. For a similar feeling in a totally different car--a four-wheel-drive sedan--try Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution, another toy, but a cheaper one, with a $28,000 base price. But read on...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Forbes.com page 3 of 4

Should You Buy This Car?
The problem with a toy car is that, as with all toys, you don't want to put it away. In the case of the Lotus Elise, you don't want to get out of it because, almost literally, you can't.

Buy this car if you are a newly divorced dad who already has three cars and is looking for another one to take to the track on weekends. A couple of other target audiences probably exist for this vehicle, but that's the main one.

Buy a different type of sports car--for example, a two-door coupe (Corvette) or hot rod sedan (Lancer Evolution)--for more comfort.

Don't buy this car if you're going to be driving Mom around all the time. Or if you're going to be driving in New York, or in any city for that matter. Or if you're really tall. Or claustrophobic. Or crave a more refined interior. Or...you get the idea.

Where does that leave us? With enough, say, doctors in Northern California and other potential Lotus customers to keep the company in business and back in the popular consciousness--and to keep the Elise sold out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Forbes.com page 4 of 4

Specs
Manufacturer Contact: Lotus Web site.

MSRP: $41,725, including $795 destination charge

Color Options: ardent red, saffron yellow, arctic silver, aubergine purple, Aztec bronze, Bordeaux red pearl, magnetic blue, nightfall blue, racing green, starlight black, storm titanium, chrome orange, graphite gray, krypton green

Suspension Type: not available. (As part of a $2,480 option package, buyers can get Bilstein shock absorbers with adjustable perches and Eibach springs.)

Acceleration: 0 mph to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds

Engine Type: 1.8-liter I-4

Horsepower: 190 @7,800 rpm

Torque: 138 pound-feet @6,800 rpm

EPA Mileage: 23 miles per gallon city/27 highway
 

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Re: Forbes.com page 3 of 4

m3phil said:
Buy this car if you are a newly divorced dad who already has three cars and is looking for another one to take to the track on weekends. A couple of other target audiences probably exist for this vehicle, but that's the main one.
Did they really print that? How offensive! They can go on about the car's tradeoffs and deficiencies all they like, but if they're going to insult the people who buy them, that's an entirely different thing.

Aside from the irresponsible/negligent connotation, a divorced "dad" is precisely someone who isn't likely to afford such luxury "toys".

How about a happily married guy with no kids and some saved income? Must be the Wired demographic instead of Forbes.
 

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Re: Re: Forbes.com page 3 of 4

That article is proof why 98% of the car buyers are looking for a car that does a little bit of everything but excels at nothing. Sometimes, I think people are too willing to compromise.

Here's the speech I'm going to give my friends when my car arrives and they start asking for rides:

A lot of people will like the Elise because it looks cool. But, Lotus forces you to accept its philosophy of performance by light weight -even at the expense of comfort.

If you can't accept that philosophy, then you will not like the Elise. That's how Lotus separates the enthusiast from the person who just wants a cool looking car. Unlike a lot of other sports cars, this car is uncompromising and pure in it's intent to be the best handling sport car in the market.
Despite my little speech, I expect their first ride to be their last -which is just fine with me because they're just adding dead weight! :D
 

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After reading all these reviews I find that Im am apparently COMPLETELY different than 99% of other auto owners, especially females. Im ok with that. :D
 

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Wow. Instead of reviewing it for what it is, they judge it by what it isn't designed to be.

It's like criticizing a pickup truck for not having a trunk.
 

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Re: Forbes.com page 2 of 4

m3phil said:
(Stay tuned to see if that Celica motor hold ups long-term under race car-like applications.)
Does this mean they intend to track the car and report back on the long-term durability of the engine after extended track use?
-OR-
Does this mean they want their readers to wait on early owners to report back on the engine after extended 'race car-like applications'?
-OR-
???
 

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Every time I see an article like this, It makes me all the more certain that the Elise is the car for me. And yes, I'm happily married. :D

John
 
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