Have never run a set on the Elise. My experience with the tire on my STR prepped Miata has been very positive. Just a second or two below an R compound. Wish they came in Elise friendly sizes for the front. I don't like running different tires front and rear personally.
I've run Hankook's as my street tires for a few years, RS-2's. Tires have been very good tires. Street grip ( lower temps than track ) has been exceptional. Even the few times I've been caught in the rain, they performed great.
My turn in and feel is more muted, but I'm running a 215/45/16 on the front.
I wish they made my current sizes in the new RS-3.
Lastly, you write that you might try a set for your rear tires. Our cars are pretty sensitive to mix and match tire set ups. Different models tires front to rear could make for squirrelly handling. Different brands front to rear could be dangerous.
It's too bad the RS3's are not available for the fronts. I don't plan on tracking the car. What would you suggest for summer street driving. I get on it a little bit and like to corner fast and push it on the 2 lane curvy roads. The car won't see snow or salt and probably very little rain, at least until I figure out how to adjust the windows to seal the soft top better. Need to read more about that. Once I figure that out I can take it out in wet conditions.
When I had my Elise, I installed a set of Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec. Decent tires for some spirited street driving. Went on a road trip too. ~ $600 a set.
You will have to up the fronts to 205/50/16. Rears stay the same as 225/45/17. The steering might feel a tad heavier cos of the wider tires but nothing to worry about.
As for "sealing" the window better, there's a adjustment screw on the lower bottom side of each door inner panel. I am pretty sure the car manual mentions something about that. Be careful about adjusting this screw. They have known to fall into the door shell.
I asked Hankook about a size appropriate for the front and got this reply:
I am happy to let you know that Hankook Tire America Corp. will be bringing the Ventus R-S3 to the U.S. market in the size you mentioned (205/45ZR16) this year. Anticipated arrival time in the U.S. market is August 2012.
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