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Hello, all. I've been lurking on this board off and on for several weeks now. I've finally test driven an Elise a few days ago, and I'd appreciate some comments from the lotus afficionados.

I'm looking at the Elise as a fun street car and a street legal track car.

My hesitation with the Elise comes from the "tarnished" reputation of Lotus when it comes to reliability. One owner and devotee I've met at the track describes the Elise as "Absolutely wonderful as a track car, when it's running".

Before I get flamed, let me hasten to add that I love the car, have money down for a car for delivery next year. I just want to get a little more info on what I'm getting into.

Is the poor reliability rep completely bogus? If not, does it mostly relate to the Rover engine and therefore a non-issue? I was on track with an Espirit that caught fire, and one self-proclaimed expert said that electricals are a problem with Lotus. True, or did the guy have his head up where the sun don't shine? Any maintenance issues I should be aware of?

Thanks in advance.
 

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Palting,
Reliability issues with any hi perf. car are always a concern. Many of the issues with reliability of the elise stem from the Rover engine and gearbox combination (head gaskets and water pumps are one area). I most of us are hoping a lot of that will go away with the use of the Celica engine/gearbox combo which has proven reliability. Additionally Lotus did a new ECU for the car and they added twin oil coolers (gives you 7.5 liters of oil now) the celica engine because of oil starvation issues in the celica at hi speed cornering.

Additionally, knowing how particular americans are about their cars they've made huge efforts at build quality on the US and the 111R. I looked at one of the early US cars side by side with and 02 111S, drove them back to back, no comparison in terms of fit and finish.

Is the car perfect, no but I wouldn't hesitate to turn the key and drive the car cross country tomorrow. Randy's done that.

Keep in mind these ARE handbuilt cars so this makes them liable to have some quirks. Some of the issues that have come up with on the first customer cars have been dealt with very rapidly by the dealer and LCU.

I know my posts sometime sound like I'm on LCU's payroll but the car has met ALL my expectations so far!
Chris
 

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I expect this car to have the same reliability as a toyota. It has the engine and transmission from the Toyota. No lucas electrics!
 

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I agree with Chris, for the most part. I also love Lotus cars and in no way mean to "bash" them...

This being said, Lotus cars can be very frustrating in terms of reliabilty. While the addition of a Toyota drivetrain will improve quality in this area of the car, the car is still hand built by a small company. The handbuilt aspect is, of course, part of the car's appeal for most enthusiasts. Embrace the idea of maintaining your Elise more than you would with a "normal" car.

Keep in mind that the parts used in a Lotus are sourced from many different places, some with less than stellar quality. You'll find that, unfortunately, most of the problems that you have will be other than the engine/transmission. Please note that if you do have an engine/tranny problem (again, I doubt this will happen), no Toyota dealer is going to go within ten miles of your Elise -- don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

The bottom line is: be prepared for the little things that break, and you'll be fine. If/when something goes pop, try to look at it as part of the hobby of owning a true exotic.

For the record, I have owned a Lotus in the past... :)
 

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This is my 5th lotus btw, guess I've been lucky, the only time any of my cars left me stranded was when a ground wire worked it's way loose.

Even my europa served me well as a daily driver for three years.

Goose is right tho, handbuilt cars can have their quirks!

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the frank informative replies. This is a great site!!!

I hear you about cars hand built by small companies. The completed cars will vary just a bit. Here's to all of us getting cars that are built exceptionally well!
 

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I fully expected a lot of rattles and minor problems when I bought this car. But in the few weeks I've had it, I've been amazed at how tight it is, and how well built. From what I've seen thus far, outstanding quality.
 

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Palting said:
I love the car, have money down for a car for delivery next year.
Perhaps you will be happy that you will get it next only year.

In the meantime Lotus hopefully may have modified some little items.;)

(111R problems because of oil starvation :huh: )
 

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I think it is safe to say that Lotus cars were always known for issues around realiabilty or rather the distinct lack of..... however things changed when the Elise S2 went into production and then further improvements with the 111R/Fed car.

The S2 went into production at the same time that Lotus built the Vauxhall (GM) VX 220. GM required quality that in some ways was something new to Lotus. Much time and resource went into sorting out niggles before cars were realisied from the factory. This called for improvement in quality which then passed onto Elise production.

The Elise S1 had a 1 year warranty which was limited to 10,000 miles or so. The S2 was introduced with a 2 year warranty.. limited to 20,000 miles. I think this was Lotus making a statement about reliabilty. I got a call from my dealer lat week to inform me that the warranty details has changed.. Lotus have lifted the 20,000 mile limit. I think this is Lotus demonstrating a greater belief in the end product.
 

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I understand the Fed Elise factory has received ISO 9000 certification. That's a good thing
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ruedigger, don't the 111R/US Elise come with dry sump, therefore oil starvation at high G's shouldn't be a problem? Or is ther another oil starvation problem?

Sorry for the ignorance. What's ISO 9000 and why is it significant?
 

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Palting the US elise has twin oil coolers to prevent to oil surge/starvation problem reported in the celica, this gives an oil reservoir of 7.5 liters. I'ts not a dry sump however. I seem to recall the manual saying not all cars were equipped with the twin oil coolers, does the 111R have it as well or just the new Exige?
CHris
 

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To increase the oil inventory IMHO is a rather strange alternative for dry sump lubrication even when the oil coolers remain tight.

The Porsche Carrera GT has ten oil pumps to cope with lateral accelerations of more than 1,2 g. But this is not a must . A windage plate or an Accusump may already be very good value or money.

If I had a 111R I would ask my dealer before I race my Elise with sticky tyres on a race course having fast long corners.

May last some time until you get a new engine from Lotus.
 

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I had read somewhere that the oil starvation problem was already addressed by Toyota a few model years ago. I don't have any links or solid info to back this up, sorry.
 

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MJC123 said:
I understand the Fed Elise factory has received ISO 9000 certification. That's a good thing
really?! Wow, I'm impressed (seriously).

Good work Lotus!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
zvezdah1 said:
Palting the US elise has twin oil coolers to prevent to oil surge/starvation problem reported in the celica, this gives an oil reservoir of 7.5 liters. I'ts not a dry sump however. I seem to recall the manual saying not all cars were equipped with the twin oil coolers, does the 111R have it as well or just the new Exige?
CHris
Thanks for straightening me out. I was thinking of the Super 7, one of my prior options. I do agree, though, that twin oil coolers and increased capacity is a poor substitute for a dry sump system.
 

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In theory, Oil coolers are there to control engine temps. Dry sump to control/manage oil feed (thus pressure). So, yes - oil coolers are not a substitute for dry sump.

Having said that, added capacity many help with oil starvation during g-loads if the situation is that the oil is being pulled away from the oil pick-up in the sump. Were that the case then the oil in the coolers would act as a remote "tank" and continue to feed the system. This is similar to what Accusump does.
 

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>>>I do agree, though, that twin oil coolers and increased capacity is a poor substitute for a dry sump system.<<<

Well I think Lotus REALLY wanted to have those oil coolers for whatever reason. They hate adding *any* weight to a car. I read that the twin coolers upped the weight by 29 pounds. That's a lot!
 

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I had a 99 Esprit that I put 12k miles on in 1.5 years with no problems except the calipers sticking on the freeway after I had sold it--classic!

Just got the Elise on Saturday. In general very solid, but the "bits" are not that impressive in terms of quality. First time I flip the sun visor up--the mechanism that keeps it from just hanging down broke--this was at delivery of the car! No other problem and I now have about 300 miles on it.
 
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