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Kansas City Star Elise Review

1583 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  shay2nak
In today's paper (Saturday April 17th, 2004):

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thanks for the article!
Thanks for the article , this is the first I had seen warranty mentioned.
Job well done!
Warranty?! Awesome! Thanks for the post. Great article.

My wife just doesn't get it. But at least she won't be fighting me for the keys:D
i must say, after spending 3 days driving an mr2 spyder on the tail of the dragon- and hanging on the bumper of a very talented s2k driver- i am more ready than ever to sit in my elise. this guy sure writes a better review than ms. michigan.

Lotus Elise
One of the Sharpest-handling sports cars is finally heading our way.

Birmingham, ALA - Sports car lovers, your prayer has been answered. Lotus is finally going to bring us it's two-seat Elise, which has charmed buyers in England and the rest of Europe for nearly 8 years.

But, since only about 2000 of them will be imported in the next 12 months, you should put in a good word with the god of sports cars if you actually want to buy one. The first year's production is already spoken for.

The Elise has developed an almost cultlike following among enthusiasts since it was introduced in 1996. It has won more than 50 awards for engineering and performance. Sales of 17,000 since 1996 make it the best-selling Lotus in the company's 52-year history. After driving one, I can see why the car is so popular.

The Elise, which has a base price of $39,985, is a close to a telepathic sports car as you are likely to find. Think and it reacts, in large measure because it is a paradigm of contemporary sports car design and the embodiment of Lotus founder Colin Chapmen's philosophy of performance through light weight.

The bare-bones chassis, made from sections of extruded aluminum bonded together with aerospace adhesives, weighs a scant 150 pounds. The total curb weight of 1,975 pounds, including air conditioner, power windows, anti-lock brakes, and dual airbags, means that even a small engine, in this case a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder from a Toyota Celica, yields startling performance. Elise bolts to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed of 150mph. It will go from a standstill to 100 mph and back to a standstill in 17.5 seconds. Couple that with gas mileage in the range of 30 miles per gallon and the Elise is a genuine iconoclast capable of kicking dust in the face of cars costing twice as much.
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Elise is tiny. The 90.5 inch wheelbase, and the overall length, is roughly the same as a Mazda Miata's. Cargo space is very limited. It's best if your passenger isa good friend because you rub elbows with every gear shift.

It takes a certain amount of agility to slither into the Elise because you have to slide across the side sill and drop into the seat. Large drivers will have more trouble than smaller ones. Once you're inside you will find the car fits like a glove. Elise converts to an open-air car with the removal of a small top over the seats.

The Elise is meant for spirited driving, so amenities such as cup holders, and power mirrors are notably absent. The tiny, thick-rimmed steering wheel feels like a race car's, and the pair of simple gauges sits in a pod behind the wheel and delivers basic information. A stereo is included, but the majority of buyers will entertain themselves by listening to the engine as they run through the gears.

Handling is the strong suit of the Elise, and the best place to sample it's agility is on a track. Lotus chose the lovely Barber Motorsport Park in Birmingham for a handful of auto writers to get familiar with the car. I missed out on track driving, but I did spend a considerable amount of time exercising the Elise on a small handling track liad out in a large parking lot. Egged on by a factory engineer who was my passenger for a few laps, I explored the Elise's incredible grip and braking in the rain. The Toyota engine and six-speed gearbox are ideal because the engine has two personalities. Keep the revs under 6,000 and this DOHC four-cylinder is docile; let the revs soar to 8,000 and it screams like a banshee. Elise is light enough to make this engine feel much larger than it actually is.

The Lotus U.S. profile has been low in recent years, but the Elise is bound to change that. Lotus has 100 or fewer Esprits V-8s to sell this year, so adding a couple thiousand Elises will bring considerable change. Not only is Lotus Cars USA moving into a new headquarters in Atlanta and adding staff, it is looking to expand it's dealer base after the initial dust settles. Currently, Lotus has 38 dealers in 29 markets, and none are in Kansas City. The closest dealer at this time is in St. Louis. Arnie Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Lotus Cars USA, said the company would like to add a dealer in Kansas City.

If your pulse quickens at the thought of owning a road car that handles almost like a race car, then the Elise is bound to on your shopping list. Be patient, however, because demand is likely to outstrip supply for the immediate future.
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At a glance-
Point: The Elise is like a go-kart for the street. The twin-cam, Toyota engine gives it more muscle to humble bigger, more powerful exotic cars, and it's handling is telepathic. Brakes too are impressive.
Counterpoint: Trouble is, only a couple thousand are headed our way, and most are already spoken for. The cabin is small and the interior is underwhelming.
I really dont understand what the big deal is with the interior. It doesnt seem that bare to me. Carpet, leather, plastics, and the aluminum that shows looks good if you ask me. People complain that the interior is too plain for the price. Ever seent he interior of a Viper? It reminds me of the interior of a 350z only without any aluminum trim accents. (for those unfamiliar, it is solid black with plastic everything except 2 leather seats)

originally posted by zcar222
It reminds me of the interior of a 350z...
I think the Elise has one of the best interiors available for a car today. The 350z has the nastiest interior. I don't mind simplicity and a bit of cheapness, but the Z's dash and door trim is horrible. It reminds me of a basketball, you know, the pebble grip pattern. Plus the steering wheel looks ugly and is used in all Nissans and Infinities now. Where's the uniqueness. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't buy one. I drove one and it was OK.
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