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I drove the S2111s at Huntington Motorsports CT (these guys are great) last month. IMHO the suspension is very forgiving. After my demo I made a mental note to opt for the Track suspension. If the Fed Elise will be softer then all the more reason to get the performance suspension. As long as it is not $3500. I'd certainly be willing to pay 2k if it came with a wheel/tire upgrade and adjustable coilovers. I plan to drive it at least half the time on the track so it makes sense for me.
 

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Jen & others -

Have you watched the TopGear S2 video? The S2 seems to have very nasty understeer (until the Lotus chassis guy forces some tire-wrecking oversteer)... this because the S2 is fitted with narrow front tires to make the car easier to drive for the average meat-head.

They say that substituting wider front tires brings the handling back to neutral. I'm assuming that the suspension upgrade takes care of this... yet another reason to spend the bucks and make the car right. I'm fairly annoyed that you have to do this to get a neutral handling car. The whole "dumbing down" for the mass market seems against the whole Lotus philosophy. Yes, I understand why, but sheesh.

Thomas

P.S. Insomnia s*cks and so does understeer.
P.P.S. After further consideration... let them make the car understeer. It will keep insurance rates a bit cheaper. As long as it doesn't cost me much to remedy the understeer, that's fine.
 

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Let's not get carried away accusing Lotus of things they have not done yet, at least to the Federal Elise (but it is never to early to speculate for fun and argument :D.

I watched the Top Gear video and Lotus has done the same thing BMW did to my E36 M3. The early cars (1995-?) had equal size tires all around. My 99 has staggered front tires to increase understeer which I am replacing with equal size tires. And Audi had to go to the extent of a recall in Germany after early TT cars were being spun off the road. Unfortunately I think it is the reality of the market. This change is a lot less detrimental than other changes fostered on us by the market/goverment which are difficult to impossible to correct. If all we have to do is change the tire size that is not a big deal.

We clearly do not know what the Federal Elise stiffness will be like, but I hope it is similar to the 111S that I drove (at Hunting Ridge, so it is likely the same -red- one that Eyelise drove). I too will be disappointed if they soften the suspension, but realistically Lotus cannot make a one size fits all car here. I want a street car that may seem some track use. If I was Eyleise and planned on spending 50% of my time on the track, I too would want a different suspension set up. This is what Porsche (and Ferrari now) do with their cars.

We should be happy that Lotus offers us two Lotus tuned suspensions, one for road and one for track day use. Let us just pray that both will be very effective in their element.
 

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Perhaps the sports suspension will have less unsprung weight. I recently read a service manual (a few years old) which said the Elise has steel A-arms, which kind of surprised me. The lighter the car the more important unsprung weight is, so I was just assuming they'd be aluminum. Of course, I don't really know anything about this topic, so perhaps properly done steel can be as light as aluminum?
 

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Yes, steel has many plusses for use in a suspension. First steel is about 3X the strength of aluminum and about 3X the weight. But steel has ductility (i.e. is bends and stretches instead of fracturing), and does not fatigue like aluminum.

If you alook at an aluminum bike they go to very large tube diameters to make a part as strong (actually as stiff) as steel with lower weight. This would not be a good solution for a suspension piece because these large diameter tubes are very susceptible to dents.

Airplanes are aluminum, but they are large diameter shells and they are carefully inpsected every year for fatigue cracks. High stress parts like landing gear contain a lot of steel.
 

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HI and,

Lotus encountered problems with durability and longevity of alum suspension components as well as the alum rear sub frame/engine mount. in tests, they switched over to steel.
Chris
 

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Ahhh...thanks for the explanations, folks. I've noted it use in other high end cars and was wondering..
Alan
 

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Yes it is used in high end cars and even in Audis. I've had to replace four of my Aluminum control arms (A4 has 8) and that is with less than 45K miles. Lighter is not always better- OOPs forget I said that, just forget it.
 

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It wouldn't be terribly difficult to make A-arms with double butted Cr-Mo steel tubing and add some carbon composite reinforcements. It'd add some cost for sure, but they'd probably weigh what the Al ones would (or less) and would last forever.

I'm a little surprised that they're using Al. It's a pretty wimpy metal for stuff like suspension arms. It's guaranteed to work harden and crack eventually.
 

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Eyelise said:
YLighter is not always better- OOPs forget I said that, just forget it.
Ahh, the ultimate Chapman principle. Lighter is always better, but at some point trade offs are made for stiffness, durability, safety, etc. CABC had a tendency to operate at or just beyond the ragged edge in these regards. As you go lighter you will need to be diligent for cracks and damage. This may be acceptable for a race car that life limits its suspension components and performs non-destructive testing on these components at frequencies that would not be acceptable for a road car.

Like any truly high performance car, we cannot expect components on the Elise to last like a Japanese car. If you want set it and forget it durability this is probably not the car for you. One problem Lotus has always had is their cars were cheap enough that they were available to a wider audience that may not have understood Chapman's principles. There are a lot of sad Elans and Europas out there. The Elise brings this back.

Most people on this board appreciate the trade-offs Lotus makes to create a car like an Elise. Otherwise we would buy a M3, Boxster, S2000 etc and have a no fuss car with excellent durability and reliability instead of the dynamic characteristis of an Elise. That is exactly why we want it :D
 

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Larry,
I hear people screaming bloody murder when they think the cost of the Elise will be $500 higher than originally quoted. Would they actually swallow the extra cost of Crmo (SP?) suspension components.

Just as clarification, the suspension components and rear subframe are steel on the Elise.
Chris
 

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ex-M3 said:
[...]
Otherwise we would buy a M3, Boxster, S2000 etc and have a no fuss car with excellent durability and reliability instead of the dynamic characteristis of an Elise. That is exactly why we want it :D
You make it sound like Chapman would be proud of the phrase, "Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious." Reliability and driving dynamics do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. It seems Lotus is making a big push towards increasing quality standards, with GM (of all companies) and the U.S. market as influences. A Japanese drivetrain has already been inserted, and if you believe the initial S2 Exige reviews and the U.S. Elise hype from Clyde et al, the Elise has improved in performance while probably simultaneously increasing reliability. It sounds like the U.S. Elise may be too reliable for you ;). Day-to-day practicality tradeoffs (entry/exit, lack of storage, lack of bumpers) is a different story.

There is a saying that goes something like, "beware the tyranny of the OR, and embrace the power of the AND." The Elise is already a paradox: ultra performance w/low production AND relative affordability, sub 5 second 0-60 acceleration AND fuel efficiency, ultra handling AND relative comfort. Why not add one more: driving dynamics AND reliability? A car isn't fun to drive if you can't drive it.
 

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My main concern about the stock suspension is the ride height. The US has minimums for the car that are much higher than you find in europe. This is why we have those huge fender gaps in many of our cars. I will NOT pay extra money for suspension that will be as tall as a normal US car.

If it is sold aftermarket, it could have a "Not for street use" designation on it, yet still be properly low to the ground.

I think aftermarket through a lotussport of america type setup is the most likely solution, though it will definitely raise the price of the solution.

Scot
 

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We have a higher ride height as I suspect the average road here is not in as good condition as average UK road. We've got potholes here (especially Northeast) that would swallow a car whole.

I reeeeeeeeeeeeeallly doubt the stock ride height or suspesion set up will be substantially different from the present 111S people have been test driving here.
Chris
 

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I believe the stock US elise will have a HIGHER ride height than the 111s thats driving around.

I for one have been driving around in cars that are much lower than normal street cars for years, and only have a problem when people decide to put those stupid humps in the road to keep us slow.

Potholes are an issue, but I generally just try to stay away from them. They get potholes across the pond too, so I don' think its that big of a deal.

Scot
 

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Dan said:
It sounds like the U.S. Elise may be too reliable for you ;). ...There is a saying that goes something like, "beware the tyranny of the OR, and embrace the power of the AND." The Elise is already a paradox: ultra performance w/low production AND relative affordability, sub 5 second 0-60 acceleration AND fuel efficiency, ultra handling AND relative comfort. Why not add one more: driving dynamics AND reliability? A car isn't fun to drive if you can't drive it.
I certainly hope the Elise is very reliable. I am a mechanical engineer and driver not a mechanic! I certainly agree with your statement that the Elise delivers performance and economy, handling and relative comfort. But realistically, Lotus as a small manufacturer will never equal the quality of the Japanese or Germans. Their budgets simply do not allow extensive testing and quality systems and low volumes are notorious for challenges to quality systems. It is much easier when you make 25,000 per year to invest in tooling, training etc to achieve high quality. Lotus is a hand built car, and is more susceptible to build issues.

As for durability, the weight reduction *may* come at a price. I think the chassis is a game changer, allowing light weight without severe engineering tradeoffs, but if you look at an Elan or Europa you can see that weight was saved at the expense of durability. The thin bodies are a case in point. On the 111S I drove the rear engine/trunk cover would definitely not pass the torture test of a mass production car producer.

The Toyota engine is a good move for reliability and the fact the car has been in production for quite a few years also is a plus, but I still will not be surprised if this car has more issues than average. I won't be using the JD Powers info as a decision factor. I definitely agree that Lotus actually benefited from GM ownership in this area (I can't believe I think GM has done any good for the car lover:)) and their experience with the Opel/Vauxhall versions will make the Elise the most reliable and durable car Lotus has ever made. Chapman would probably deem it over-engineered and take 200 pounds out :D
 
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