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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
[Note that both of these messages are personal emails by Roy forwarded with permission. We sent them to the lotus-cars and elise groups on yahoogroups.com. Also forwarding here and the LCU message board. Chris also got to drive S3 and already posted his impressions here. -- Jeff C.]

Recently a few people who have been allowed to drive prototype
Lotus Elise S3s in the U.S. have been cleared by Lotus to share
their driving experiences with the rest of us. Here is one
report. I'm asking the other author if I can forward his
comments also. This is forwarded with the permission of the
author and of Lotus Cars USA. If you forward it further please
make note of the permissions in your forwarding.

Roy owns an Exige and drives it on the track. Exige is a 190
hosrespower racing version of the Elise S1, based on 340R
running gear.

Two key questions were about the torque characteristics of
the remapped Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine and the understeer. Since
both drives were on the street, there was not much chance to
test the handling limits, unfortunately. Track tests await.

Thanks,

Jeff C.
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This is a forwarded message
From: Roy W. Olivier
To: Jeff Chan
Date: Saturday, October 11, 2003, 7:11:47 AM
Subject: Prototype US Elise test drive

Hey Jeff,

You are welcome to post this, I'm not a member of the list...

I wrote this in response to some questions from another guy about the
powerband and gearing of the Toyota:

I did not have any problem staying in the power band. I have not driven a
Celica but the Elise seemed geared right and had plenty of power. A Celica
weighs 500+ lbs more, which would make a big difference imo. Keep in mind
that the ECU was programmed by Lotus so they designed it for performance. I
was told that the Toyota engineers who drove the car were very impressed
with what Lotus did with the ECU. While I did not get over 110mph in the
car, I found the gearbox to be good; I did not notice a big drop in rpm
shifting or that one gear was a big jump from another. I did notice that
the car did not feel as fast as my Exige, however, my Exige is modified and
is 1702lbs wet in its current trim and has the same hp (up to 230hp next
week). The car was cold when I took it out and I was told that the ECU will
not allow the cams to kick in until you get some temperature in the motor.
As a result I drove the first few miles under 6K rpm and frankly, it was
fine; typical around town driving imo. On the highway, I was about 2,800
rpm at 60mph (8.4K redline). You could motor around all day below 6K and
not notice. Over 6K it felt like a wild animal, like my Exige.

Handling is really excellent. I only took a few corners hard and it felt a
lot like my Exige when it was stock. The great thing about that chassis is
that you can go a lot stiffer and really shock big dog cars on a track. The
suspension was great for a street car, a nice compromise in ride quality and
handling. I did get the car almost airborne at one point and it did not
"crash" down; it had plenty of suspension travel. I would like it stiffer,
but I stiffen every car I have owned:)

Brakes are amazing. They bite immediately, much faster than my Exige (when
the brakes were stock). I ran up to 100 and braked pretty hard, it came
back down fast.

Only bad things were ingress and the seat. I damaged my right knee in an
ATV accident (rolled down a mountain in Costa Rica:) and getting in really
hurt my knee. I have a removable wheel in my Exige, I would need one in
that car if I were to drive it a lot, or get my knee fixed:). The seat was
also very narrow for my big ass (36" waist). I mentioned that to Arnie
(CEO) and he said that other guys had said that. They may look at some seat
options, who knows (as a side note I don't have that problem with the Lotus
seats in my Exige).

Overall I was really impressed. With the right seat, I'd use one daily and
dump my 996 Cab for it. Really a fun car. I will say that I find most cars
boring, even my 996TT. They just don't do much for me from a "driving
excitement" perspective. I have owned some pretty fast iron, but that
doesn't mean they are fun to drive. The best driving car I have owned is my
Track preped Exige, the Federal Elise is right there as well. I think they
did a great job of preserving the DNA of the original Elise while adding
refinement to the package.

Please keep in mind that my drive was short and I would like to take one on
track before giving my final thoughts on the drivetrain. It's tough to get
a clear view of gear ratios on the street unless you have a clean run and
can really focus on it. The stock gearbox in the Exige is not tight enough
for track use, you need to shorten the gearing. The Fed Elise felt great
but I'd like to have it on the back straight at Road Atlanta, or exiting
some of the corners there to comment further.

I think people will be very happy with the car unless you are a drag racer.
On track, you'll embarrass a lot of people; I've had many cars spin off
trying to keep up with my little Exige. On the street, the car felt great
imo!

Enjoy
Roy
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Here's an additional comment from Roy to a fellow Exige owner
who was carping about the increased refinement Roy reported
about the S3.

Note that the Exige is a relatively raw racing car. The stock S3
(or at lease the prototype thereof) is much more of a street car,
but the engine sounds more flexible, and the suspension sounds
like a good compromise of performance and comfort.

Before you complain about "compromise", be aware that everything
in engineering is compromises. The art in engineering is finding
the best compromises to meet the design brief. There is a great
deal of knowledge, experience and judgement tied up on those
design decisions. Lotus is certainly one of the car makers best
equipped to make such judgements.

Jeff C.
__

This is a forwarded message
From: Roy W. Olivier
To: Jeff Chan
Date: Saturday, October 11, 2003, 1:04:32 PM
Subject: Refinement

Jeff and Chris,

In addition to the other posts, feel free to use part or all of the message
below. It was a response to a fellow Exige owner who lives overseas and
said he almost puked when I said the car was refined. He felt that the car
should remain "raw" and wanted to know why I was critical of the Exige and
Elise Sport 190 as a street car. He further took issue with the "surge" in
power from the motor which I also addressed. He preferred the flat power
delivery of the K series motor...

Good luck...

Roy

-------------------------------------

No offence taken. Let me explain what I mean by “refinement”.

My car has Dynamic suspension, no AC, no radio, a roll bar etc. When I have
driven them in the mountains, great stuff. When I did a 100-mile run on one
of our highways, I wanted to shoot myself. It was very hot that day, no
radio, and every expansion joint on the highway produced a "womp" that got
old pretty fast. Our roads are much different than the roads in the UK. We
also spend a lot of time on highways, on long drives, and some minimum
comfort is helpful. I drive a 996 daily so maybe it's just making me soft:)
The new car had AC and a nice radio, I liked that.

My other point on "refinement" is based on my driving style. Traffic in
Atlanta is not quite as bad as London but it's close. The nature of my Sport
190 and Exige is such that you have to work to stay in power, the car has a
limited ability to just put it in x gear and go. For example, in my 996,
during traffic, I can put it in 3rd and go down to 1K rpm, motor up, go
down, etc without shifting all the time. In driving the new car, it felt
just like my Exige in terms of driving position, handling and suspension.
Where it was different was in the power plant. You could just motor along at
a low rpm and not worry about bogging the car down. It seemed to pull well
from low rpm without the car fighting you. I also consider that
"refinement", and I liked that.

I term of torque hike, I personally don’t see that as a big problem. A lot
of cars now have variable cam timing, which causes a noticeable “surge” at a
certain rpm. A lot of new Porsche owners think there is something wrong with
their car because of the 3k-rpm surge. It doesn’t bother me but I’m used to
it. I would not be below 6K on track anyway (unless the gearing is wrong).

Is the car different, yes. It is a lot heavier imo coming in at over 1900
lbs. You can feel the weight and of course you lose some of the “rawness”
there but overall it’s a great car. Just drive one before you form a solid
opinion…

Just my .02 worth.

Roy
 

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Hi Jeff,
Thanks for posting Roy's comments, his points are all valid and well thought out!!

I've had the pleasure of meeting Roy on a number of occasions, a true car enthusiast.
Chris
 

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Their's alot of controversy over the S3 name. Most of the people in the UK feel this car is not different enough for the S3 designation. It also be a departure for them to have this be considered a major redesign, which they only do about every four to five years.

IMHO< don't think it'll be called an S3, I suspect they'll reserve that for the major series upgrade probably in a couple years. Could be wrong though.
Chris "who doesn't care what it's called just get the d**n thing over here in my garage in ardent red"
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
It's got a totally different engine (at least when they get the Toyota engined car in Europe). It should have a different series name like S3.

I guess it doesn't really matter what they call it, but I like S3 the best since it tracks the history the most accurately. In any case it's clearly one of the world's great cars.
 

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Hmm interesting. we're not due to get Toyota engined cars for another 2 years as the supply contract with Rover for the K Series is still in force.

As pointed out above there isn't a big styling change, and the Toyota engine is, in the short term, just for the US market to meet regulatory requirements, so I'd say it's still an S2 (or as they are known S2.5).
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
There were plenty of S1, S2, S3, etc Esprits, Elans and other cars that had similar bodywork but different engines. So I think there's a precedent for a car with a different engine to get a different series designation.
 

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I'm surprised this thread hasn't had more comments. It is far more interesting than other threads of speculative nature.

Thanks! Makes me excited.
 

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Vantage said:
I'm surprised this thread hasn't had more comments. It is far more interesting than other threads of speculative nature.

Thanks! Makes me excited.
When anybody else reads it they get so pi$$ed that it wasn't them they have to go to another thread to calm down:D
 

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L8BRAKR said:
When anybody else reads it they get so pi$$ed that it wasn't them they have to go to another thread to calm down:D
I'm sort of glad it wasn't me. Can you imagine how tormenting the wait would be after that? That particular gentleman has an Exige so I'm sure he's not missing much, but for me, it's a different story.
 

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Vantage said:
imagine how tormenting the wait would be after that?
Can it get any worse? As soon as my dealer gets the demo I'm gonna be on the doorstep. I know it's not the same but it's close enough. I have only ever seen one Elise and it's the S1 they have now (mustard yellow).
 

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Yep,
But the good thing about driving the one of the US prototype Elises is "knowing" what we're getting!!! A feeling I'm quite happy with!!!!

Chris -who will slide back into his out of the way corner and gloat a bit!!:p
 

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It was quite reassuring to hear that Chris and Roy were so happy with their test drives. It's hard to add much to what they said.
 
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