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Discussion Starter #1
Hi... Just got back from SEMA's International Auto Salon (rice central; it was actually very disturbing). But Lotus of Newport did have an Elise there; a Federal car, apparently, though I'm not sure how this could be, given that dealers haven't received their cars yet, right?

At any rate, the saleswoman -- just back from from the dealer launch -- was kind enough to let me sit in the car, try ingress/egress a few times, and start the engine. So here are some notes for anyone who's dying for *any* type of information while the wait continues:

- I was not prepared for just how low the seating position is to the ground. I don't know about the actual ground clearence from road to tub, but when your're in the car, you feel like your ass is right on the road. I must admit, the sensation threw me. I've driven a Z3 coupe, a Miata, a 911 993 and a 911 996, and this was by FAR a different ball of wax altogether. The car didn't feel any smaller than a Miata -- it just felt insanely low.

- I felt that once you're inside the Elise, you actually have more room than what you experience inside a Miata. More foot room, and more elbow and knee room. My elbows feel restricted in a Miata. No such feeling in the Elise.

- The pedal spacing was absolutely A-ok. I was wearing my widest sneakers (4.5 inches at the widest part), and for my heal-toe style (I straddle the two pedals, and don't pivot at all), the spacing was just fine. I would even hazard to say that the space between the brake and gas is *wider* than my E36 M3's.

- Getting in was vexing; I actually found getting out to be easier. And I didn't find getting in/out any more difficult with the soft top on (which, by the way, took about 90 seconds to install). FWIW, the saleswoman got in/out quickly, so I think it's just a matter of mastering the art.

- The car had a stock exhaust. My, it sounded grrrreat! Deeper, sportier, and more growly than the aftermarket exhaust on my M3 (I have a Dinan). I was really impressed, and I wouldn't be surprised if I eventually kept the stock exhaust and parlayed my money savings into a lifestyle color. The only thing about the stock exhaust is that it is essentially invisible unless you really get down and look beneath the car. So if exterior statements mean something to you, I think you'll need to upgrade.

- The red leather for the Touring pack looks fantastic. Really, really deep, dark and sophisticated; it compells me to pick an exterior color that allows for a red interior.... we shall see.

- The steering wheel was microscopic. I have sat inside a Lancer Evo, and I thought *that* steering wheel was small. Well, this one is even smaller. Incredible.

- Build quality from top to bottom was production-car smooth. Nothing about anything alarmed me, or made me think kit car.

Overall, a fantastic experience. Personally, I don't think this vehicle could be classified as a sports car. So many things about it are different from what I have ever experienced. I have never been in a single seater, but this car made me think I have.
 

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Christine told me that she'd be there. She was able to talk Lotus into letting her bring one of the Fed Elises to the SEMA IAS show.

Getting into and out-of the Elise is a bit of a challenge with the top on. It's much easier to get in and out without the top. Christine has vivid memories of me trying to squeeze my way into the Elise and having to fall onto the pavement to get out. I've since learned to push the seat all the way back!

Great write-up and report!

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's her name! Christine (though I think her biz card says Christina). She was great. She let me inside the ropes even before seeing my press badge; that was spectacular. I still have ugly memories of the SF auto show, where the SF Bentley woman wouldn't even open the door for me so that I could peer inside the footwell from 10 feet away. But Christina let me do everything but drive the car away -- and she knew full well that I have a deposit with another dealer. So I appreciated her generosity. She was a good ambassador for Lotus.
 

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JonM3Coupe said:
Personally, I don't think this vehicle could be classified as a sports car. So many things about it are different from what I have ever experienced.

??? sounds a very unusual statement
 

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Be aware that if this was the Bordeaux Red car (and I'm guessing that it was), then it's a pre-production test mule, failrly close but not exactly the same as the U.S. version. It has the Toyota lump but the interior is european spec, not U.S. It's got the european interior (non-airbag steering wheel, vents on top of dash facing up, alcantara etc.). Really the Bordeaux Red car is more like a 111R than the U.S. car.

The federal cars will have a slightly larger diameter, MOMO wheel with a nice small airbag. A very nice wheel, you'll love it if you like the origina Elise wheel.
 

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This IS the sports car Jon - the others are pretenders to the crown using chassis generally not designed for the purpose...

My boss is the reigning UK Classic Formula Ford champion and has won it 14 times... He took the piss out of my Elise as a pretend sports car.... right up to the point when he drove it.

:D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Unusual statement? Then maybe I didn't take the time to explain fully. Let me try again: The "sports cars" I've driven include a 68 Camaro, an E36 M3, a Z3 coupe, a Miata, and three 911s. I've also sat in tons of "sports cars" at car shows: RX-8, 350Z, Lancer Evo, Suby STi, to name a few.

None have had such an incredibly low seating position. As far as seating position, all the other sports cars I've driven were in the same category, more or less. They didn't feel measurably different from, say, a Neon or Civic in respect to the driver's position relative to the road. But the Elise was not in this category. I felt like I was sitting on the ground. I don't know of any other way to articulate it. Obviously, on paper, the Elise is a sports car. But once you sit in one, you'll come to the conclusion that it nudges into some type of netherworld between sports car and race car. But, again, I have never sat in a true exotic, so maybe the seating position isn't all that special compared to an F-40 or a Diablo.

The car was not Bordeaux Red. It was Arctic Silver, and Christina described it as fully federalized car. As for the interior, I can't remember what it looked like, save it had the tourning pack's red leather. She said the only anomoly was that it was a touring pack with rollup windows. She made no mention of the steering wheel, and I didn't ask.
 

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JonM3Coupe said:

The car was not Bordeaux Red. It was Arctic Silver, and Christina described it as fully federalized car. As for the interior, I can't remember what it looked like, save it had the tourning pack's red leather. She said the only anomoly was that it was a touring pack with rollup windows. She made no mention of the steering wheel, and I didn't ask.
Ah, okay then as Emily Nutella (sp?) used to say on SNL, "Never Mind". :p The silver car you describe is the same one that was at the LA Auto show, most likely.

P.S. 68 Camaro (or any Camaro) - Sports Car ?? I guess everybody's got their own definition of what a sports car is and isn't, but I'd classify that more as a muscle car, no ?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
ACCCKKK! I knew someone would say that about the 68 Camaro!!! Listen, I would never really call my 68 Camaro a sports car, but I included it in my description because other "sports cars" are arguably not "sports cars," and that a 68 Camaro is actually closer to an M3 in seating profile than an M3 is to the Elise.

Is a 911 a sports car? Or is it a GT? Is a Lancer Evo a sports car? Or is it a family sedan that's been tuned to hell and back?

I figure that if Sports Car International covers a car with track testing, et al, I can use the term "sports car" if only as a general descriptor.
 

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The car at the SEMA IAS show was the same Silver Elise that was at the LA Auto show. It was, indeed, a Fed Elise... except that it had the roll-up windows as JonM3Coupe noted.

Bob
 

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Afraid I don't class most of those cars as 'sports cars', they have too many seats on the whole! They are 'sports' variants of other platforms. Just stuffing in a big engine doesn't qualify. The 911's I'll acknowledge and note that they are probably lowest of all that you mention but not as low as the Elise.

A Z3 never, ever was a sports car, it's a roadster, I class the Miata similarly.

The Elise was specifically designed as a modern day 7 and therein we find its roots, seat height, and amusing ingress/egress.

At 5'9" I hop in and out just fine - 90% of it is technique!!!

:)
 

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Are you saying roadsters and sports cars are exclusive. Man don't ever run into a Miata gathering or run with that banner over your head. :D ...I think a roadster can still be a type of a sportscar. It's just another way of saying it is a convertible and not what group of car it is. Too put a heavy car (Z3) in the same grouping as a light weight tossible (Miata) is really not understanding these cars at all and what a sports car is suppose to be. A Miata is more of a pure racecar then almost anything in the US today.
 

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I guess it's down to what one has grown up with I suppose.

In the UK the Miata (MX5) preceeded the 2nd Elan by a year or so. The way things went was that the racers bought the Elan and the wannabees bought the Miata. Then the Elise came along and that was the end of that. The Elise (or 7) was the mans car and the Miata the womans.

Just for 'orientation' here... Caterhams are COMMON in the UK - like you WILL pass one on the way to work.

Before you all flame away, the Miata in the UK is 'frequently' seen as the poor mans Lotus, 'cos if you're serious about sports cars you buy a Caterham, Westfield (or one of the MANY 7 rip-offs) or you just buy an Elise and be done with it. It's not money either - you can get into a 7 for a few grand as a matter of course.

So the Miata is often seen as the 'lightweight' of the crowd... e.g. for the person who wasn't 'THAT' serious about getting a sports car and wimped out. In the UK that is just the way it is. Miata's are common as shite and something of a joke 'cos in that company they don't really compete (thus far).

Don't get me wrong, I love the Miata. In fact when it came out I shouted loud at Lotus "You missed it guys, THAT'S the car you should be about to roll out". Of course it was too late by then, that untalented, over-rated **** Peter Stevens had his way and the obese ElanII was the result. So to many of the serious folks in the UK the Miata is a damn fine roadster but it ain't a sports car (in that kinda company).

Over here - I admit, my experience leads to flawed thinking, 'cos the Elise is among the first of breed over here and 7's are like rocking horse ****.

Of course it's the mixture of all these kinda things that give you this great country.

:)
PS - I'll add that the Se7en brigade in the UK take the piss mercilessly out of the Elise as being a 'hairdressers car'... which from their POV it is!!!! Caterhams are actually quicker too - so they have a point!
 

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JonM3Coupe said:
Hi... Just got back from SEMA's International Auto Salon (rice central; it was actually very disturbing). But Lotus of Newport did have an Elise there; a Federal car, apparently, though I'm not sure how this could be, given that dealers haven't received their cars yet, right?

At any rate, the saleswoman -- just back from from the dealer launch -- was kind enough to let me sit in the car, try ingress/egress a few times, and start the engine. So here are some notes for anyone who's dying for *any* type of information while the wait continues:

- I was not prepared for just how low the seating position is to the ground. I don't know about the actual ground clearence from road to tub, but when your're in the car, you feel like your ass is right on the road. I must admit, the sensation threw me. I've driven a Z3 coupe, a Miata, a 911 993 and a 911 996, and this was by FAR a different ball of wax altogether. The car didn't feel any smaller than a Miata -- it just felt insanely low.

- I felt that once you're inside the Elise, you actually have more room than what you experience inside a Miata. More foot room, and more elbow and knee room. My elbows feel restricted in a Miata. No such feeling in the Elise.

- The pedal spacing was absolutely A-ok. I was wearing my widest sneakers (4.5 inches at the widest part), and for my heal-toe style (I straddle the two pedals, and don't pivot at all), the spacing was just fine. I would even hazard to say that the space between the brake and gas is *wider* than my E36 M3's.

- Getting in was vexing; I actually found getting out to be easier. And I didn't find getting in/out any more difficult with the soft top on (which, by the way, took about 90 seconds to install). FWIW, the saleswoman got in/out quickly, so I think it's just a matter of mastering the art.

- The car had a stock exhaust. My, it sounded grrrreat! Deeper, sportier, and more growly than the aftermarket exhaust on my M3 (I have a Dinan). I was really impressed, and I wouldn't be surprised if I eventually kept the stock exhaust and parlayed my money savings into a lifestyle color. The only thing about the stock exhaust is that it is essentially invisible unless you really get down and look beneath the car. So if exterior statements mean something to you, I think you'll need to upgrade.

- The red leather for the Touring pack looks fantastic. Really, really deep, dark and sophisticated; it compells me to pick an exterior color that allows for a red interior.... we shall see.

- The steering wheel was microscopic. I have sat inside a Lancer Evo, and I thought *that* steering wheel was small. Well, this one is even smaller. Incredible.

- Build quality from top to bottom was production-car smooth. Nothing about anything alarmed me, or made me think kit car.

Overall, a fantastic experience. Personally, I don't think this vehicle could be classified as a sports car. So many things about it are different from what I have ever experienced. I have never been in a single seater, but this car made me think I have.
Excellent points ... 100% agree with everything

BTW, the feeling of sitting low is enhanced with day to day driving. I have pulled up along side low cars [ie boxter] and they "tower" over the elise. Its funny sometimes [unless they dont see you!]

And the build quality is really excellent - I was expecting "typical english rattles" etc, but the new Elise is really solid on the road. Much more solid than my Nissan 200sx. No rattles or squeaks, although hearing the clutch/steering [cables?] is new to me.
 

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I can totaly understand where your comming from. Knowing where your from puts things in perspective as to your thoughts. I guess my contention really is that although a Miata or other light weight sports cars may not be the level of the cars you mention. It doesn't mean it's not the same type of car "sports car". I certainly don't think the Miata is a Lotus Elise, hence me being here. However, I don't think having the best of any car grouping means the lesser able cars are not in the same catagory. Is an Olympic runner who places second or third not a runner. The spirit of a Miata is in line with the Elise, light weight, driver feedback, not brute force. Yes it is a poor man's Sports car but nontheless it is a pure sportscar. Not so for a z3 (cringe), vette, evo's, wrx etc, etc. Just my 2 pennies :cool:
 

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Re: Re: Quick impressions of Elise at IAS

NevB said:
BTW, the feeling of sitting low is enhanced with day to day driving. I have pulled up along side low cars [ie boxter] and they "tower" over the elise. Its funny sometimes [unless they dont see you!]
Is the Elise horn nice and loud?
 

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1FASTMX5 said:
I can totaly understand where your comming from. Knowing where your from puts things in perspective as to your thoughts. I guess my contention really is that although a Miata or other light weight sports cars may not be the level of the cars you mention. It doesn't mean it's not the same type of car "sports car". I certainly don't think the Miata is a Lotus Elise, hence me being here. However, I don't think having the best of any car grouping means the lesser able cars are not in the same catagory. Is an Olympic runner who places second or third not a runner. The spirit of a Miata is in line with the Elise, light weight, driver feedback, not brute force. Yes it is a poor man's Sports car but nontheless it is a pure sportscar. Not so for a z3 (cringe), vette, evo's, wrx etc, etc. Just my 2 pennies :cool:
I go by what my insurance company classifies them as because this is when it really matters. If you go by this logic the Vette, Z3 and Miata would all be considered sports cars. I think the WRX and Evo would be considered sports sedans not sports cars. The M3 is a GT car.
Come to think of it I think the Liz should be classified as a 4-door sedan. I would save a few bucks that way.

The E-Type is one of my favorite sports cars, I don't think it was that lightweight but nonetheless still a sports car. What about the Ford GT or the Enzo? Both are pretty heavy compared to our Liz, but they still are certainly sports cars.

There is a difference between a sports car and a lightweight sports car. The Elise has raised the bar for what can now be considered lightweight in the US.
 

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I don't believe that there is any precise definition of a "sports car". I found one that suits me: generally a two-door, two-seater vehicle designed for high performance and handling, often (but not necessarily) a convertible. Personally, I would classify the Miata, Z4 and Honda S2000 as sports cars. And many other cars besides the traditional English sports cars fit my definition.
 

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I don't remember which one, but one of the big (as in one of the major "name brand" and very thick) un-abridged dictionaries has a good definition of "sports car". But, most importantly, the picture that accompanies the definitions is a Lotus Elan. I guess they are going to have to update the picture to an Elise...;)

Tim Mullen
 
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