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Found this in the newspaper this morning.

have fun

Nick

Lotus Elise a pure, but flawed, performer

By Tom Incantalupo

Newsday


Depending on their build and agility, people develop their own styles of climbing behind the wheels of their cars. A popular one is the ``butt first'' method, in which one backs into the seat, then makes a graceful swing of the feet into the foot well.

Also popular is the ``one leg first'' method, in which one leads straight-legged with the right foot, sits down, then bends the left knee and brings the other foot aboard.

There's the ``Dukes of Hazzard'' method -- you don't see this one much -- of entering both feet first through an open window.

A method for dashing, adventurous types is the ``Hertz'' technique -- named after a TV commercial decades ago in which a driver sailed feet first into the seat of a convertible from above, but this one's tough to do if you don't have access to a crane. Much safer is to crawl head first into the front seat, then carefully twist, sliding feet onto pedals and butt onto seat.

Whichever style you prefer, this is to formally advise you that it won't work on the 2004 Lotus Elise. This is an exotically beautiful, composite-bodied roadster that, unfortunately, has been produced for those willing to put up with vexing and even ludicrous inconveniences in a $41,000 car, along with some sloppy assembly.

The new Elise is, at its heart, a delightful weekend toy whose four-cylinder, 190-horsepower Toyota engine produces an exhaust tone that's almost as pleasant to hear as the words ``no charge for this'' from a mechanic.

The Elise is very fast, with an under-five-second zero-to-60 mph time and a 13.6-second quarter-mile time. Its near-race-ready suspension connects the driver to the road as in a go-kart. Its good looks, I can testify to, will collect enough neighbors for a block party the first time you bring it home.

The Elise's structural design, guaranteed to please your chiropractor, forces driver and passenger to step over huge side frame rails to enter. The seats are virtually on the floor and are thinly padded -- certainly unsuitable for the hard landings of the Hertz entry method.

Once inside the Elise, driver and passenger also will find that, even for a base price of $41,000:

• There are no side air bags to help protect them from the 99.9 percent of vehicles whose bumpers are higher than those frame rails.

• Foot room is severely limited by the inward tapering of those frame rails toward the front of the car.

• The loose-fitting plastic center console looks like a cheap afterthought purchased from an auto parts discount store.

• The driver's seat has just two adjustments: fore and aft and lumbar support. There is no height adjustment or even one for the backrest angle. Nor does the steering wheel adjust.

• The stereo has tiny controls best suited for the deft fingers of a neurosurgeon.

• The accelerator pedal's narrowness and location very close to the brake pedal is an open invitation to unintended acceleration.

• Installing the soft top is a multi-step process that takes pages to explain in the owner's manual. A hardtop is available for $1,475.

• There's no glove box, no coin holder, no cup holder and no trunk to speak of. The last is behind the mid-mounted engine, which is behind the cockpit.

But, numerous as they are, those flaws tend to shrink into near-insignificance when the day is sunny, the road is clear and the Elise's tachometer needle reaches about 6,000 RPMs -- at which point the Toyota variable-valve-timing system delivers a surge of power almost like that of a turbocharger.

The engine's rumble becomes thunderous, driver and passenger are pushed backward into the seats, and all is right with the world.

Peak horsepower is reached at a high 7,800 rpms. This engine needs premium gas, which is stored in a 10.5-gallon tank.

The Elise's steering isn't power assisted and requires considerable effort at parking speeds but feels just right on the road, although the tiny steering wheel kicks a bit at high speeds. The Toyota-sourced six-speed stick shifter snicks precisely through the gears, the clutch is easy to modulate, there is no body lean in corners, and the powerful brakes and huge tires inspire confidence.

On sale since July, the Elise has been the only Lotus offered here since production of the $95,000 Esprit was discontinued late last year.

The test car stickered at more than $47,000, with options that included $590 metallic paint, a $1,350 touring pack, a $2,480 sport pack and a clear protectant, for $995.

At less than 2,000 pounds and 149 inches bumper to bumper, the Elise is one of the smallest cars in America, sized between the smaller Mini Cooper and the larger Mazda Miata.

There is no federal government crash test data on this car -- and probably won't ever be because of its low sales volumes. It's the same story for reliability info: Nothing available on Lotus or its cars from Consumer Reports or J.D. Power and Associates. Caveat emptor.

Even for $40,000 plus, this Lotus gives us terrific performance without the practicalities that add to the experience.

Lotus says it expects to sell about 2,300 Elises a year in the United States and an equal number elsewhere. Lotus raised the base price of the Elise on the 2005 model by 2.3 percent, or $945. It's now $40,930.
 

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OK this guy "gets it",he just doesn't "get it";)
 

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>>>There are no side air bags to help protect them from the 99.9 percent of vehicles whose bumpers are higher than those frame rails. <<<

Side airbags don't provide this protection. Common misconception even amongst those in the automotive field such as this writer.
 

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>The Elise's steering isn't power assisted and
>requires considerable effort at parking speeds

Eh? When sitting parked (speed = 0) I find it very easy to rotate the wheel full left and right. 'considerable effort' is BS.

-doma
 

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Every time I see an article that outlines the Elise's "shortcomings" it makes me all that more certain that I've made the correct choice. :)

John
 

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doma said:
[B When sitting parked (speed = 0) I find it very easy to rotate the wheel full left and right. 'considerable effort' is BS.[/B]
You can't turn the wheel with your little finger, unlike most cars...:shrug:
 

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Stan said:
>>>There are no side air bags to help protect them from the 99.9 percent of vehicles whose bumpers are higher than those frame rails. <<<

Side airbags don't provide this protection. Common misconception even amongst those in the automotive field such as this writer.
Stan, could you elaborate on your comment? Or, are you referring to side curtain air bags?
 

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I'm guessing that Stan is referring to the fact that airbags do not protect the occupants from the primary impact, but are designed to protect the occupants from the secondary impact where the interia of the occupants throws them into the interior of the vehicle.

In the case of side airbags, if a large vehicle were to hit the side of a car, the airbags would not in anyway stop the big ass vehicle from smashing into and penetrating the passenger compartment and making mush out of the occupants.

It might however soften the blow when the vehicle that's hit suddenly goes sideways and the occupants are still travelling straight, thus the occupants bodies are thrown into the side.
 

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khamai said:
I'm guessing that Stan is referring to the fact that airbags do not protect the occupants from the primary impact, but are designed to protect the occupants from the secondary impact where the interia of the occupants throws them into the interior of the vehicle.

In the case of side airbags, if a large vehicle were to hit the side of a car, the airbags would not in anyway stop the big ass vehicle from smashing into and penetrating the passenger compartment and making mush out of the occupants.

It might however soften the blow when the vehicle that's hit suddenly goes sideways and the occupants are still travelling straight, thus the occupants bodies are thrown into the side.
The reason I was interested in what was behind the comment is that in the tests performed by the IIHS, side airbags and side curtain air bags provided very significantly increased protection for the occupants in their side impact crash tests. They also cited empirical data that matched their own experience. It also seems pretty logical that a cushion between your body a rushing hulk of steel has to be good, just as the front airbags are in a frontal collision.

http://www.iihs.org/news_releases/2004/pr100304.htm
 

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Boy, that guy Tom must weigh 350 pounds and have the upper body strength of a second grade girl.

Hard steering? No trunk? Huge tires? Unintended acceleration? What is this guy smoking?
What a dope.

Tom I'd like you to meet Anita... now go get neutered. :p
 

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if the car was to have side air bags, it'd probably need some type of airbag in the middle to keep driver and passenger heads from colliding also. ().:eek:.().:eek:.()
 

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>>>There are no side air bags to help protect them from the 99.9 percent of vehicles whose bumpers are higher than those frame rails. <<< Side airbags don't provide this protection. Common misconception even amongst those in the automotive field such as this writer. > Stan, could you elaborate on your comment? Or, are you referring to side curtain air bags? <

Exactly Khamai.

FWIW we have VERY beefy aluminum side imact beams in our doors....this is why our door hinges are so massive...and the door latch pins on the door jams connect right into the beefy steel rool bar. This is far more important than the prescence or absence of side air bags. The beams appear to be taller than the height of the hinges.

Lotus is more of an *active safety* as opposed to *passive safety* sort of company. As in avoiding the accident in the first place via the handling and braking.
 

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From this author's comments and those by the Fortune article's author, I doubt that either of them spent much time in the car. They don't understand the ergonomics of the seat and that you'll be less likely to visit your chiropractor sitting in the Elise's seat than in most adjustable seats out there. (however, they might just be klutzes and hurt themselves getting in and out of the car, but a good stretching regime would take care of that problem).:rolleyes:
 

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My wife brought this article home today - it appeared in our local newspaper and her coworkers gave her a copy. I still take exception with the title ... 'flawed' ... I think the car is great at what it is for. anyway. *grumble*
 
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