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Every Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times includes a Highway 1 section devoted to car stuff. Today it features an article by Dan Neil titled "A car show for a city that never walks ... Overshadowed by Motown, L.A.'s expo struggles to shine in its own right".

After some introductory info, he provides a critique of certain cars, namely the Lotus Elise, Maserati Quattroporte, Morgan Aero B, Porsche Carrera GT, Acura TL A-Spec, Aston Martin DB9, BMW 645Ci, Ford GT and Hummer H3T (in that order).

"Lotus Elise: Finally. The car I fell in love with in Europe almost seven years ago on a windblown heath worthy of the Bronte sisters is at last coming to America. This mid-engine, two-seat, bare-knuckled sports car - not quite the size of a Toyota MR2 - provides a G-force-filled experience unlike anything outside the Huntsville, Ala., astronaut training camp.

It has taken until now to make the car emissions legal for California, and to do that Lotus had to swap out the Rover K engine used in the rest of the world's markets in favor of the Toyota Celica's 1.8-liter variable-valve screamer producing 187 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. To stir the pot the Elise also uses the Celica's six-speed manual transmission.

The Elise is one of the world's most stripped-down street machines, though unlike the original models the U.S.-spec car will come with air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, dual front air bags and a few other niceties.

This car is about intensity - sweaty, heart-pounding fun on the street or track. Double wishbones front and rear, Eibach springs, Bilstein shocks, AP brakes and a 10-pounds-per-horsepower weight-to-power ratio make the car a shifter cart for the morning commute. The factory claims zero-to-60-mph times in the sub-five-second range, a top speed of 150 mph and combined fuel economy of more than 30 miles per gallon.

And don't worry, you will be noticed. The second generation of the Elise - restyled by designer Steve Crijns to accomodate outrageous moon-shaped evacuators, scoops and vents - looks like a Japanese anime robot, half-bat, halft-locust. Coming to the United States in late spring, the Elise will go for about$40,000, and the queue is forming early for the 2,200 units expected to be imported to the States annually."
 

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The article also includes a photo of the Magnetic Blue Elise with the caption: "SPACESUIT OPTIONAL: Bruce Cornelius checks out a 2005 Lotus Elise, a Euro-rocket finally cleared by air officials for the U.S. market". Not as big as the Maserati Quattroporte photo, but prominently placed.

Dan Neil can be reached at [email protected] if you wish to comment on his article.
 
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