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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
SVAG demo is in. For the COM a few pics. For the locals go and get your test drive. Make sure they take you on the same loop we went on Kennedy Rd. Good for 12-15 min of up/down hill 2nd and 3rd gear turns.

MattG and I took the afternoon off it was a bit premature but we were eager. Stopped off at the service center meet the Lotus tech and service manager. The car was still going though PDI. Headed over and waited at the dealership for a while. From the pics it you can tell it wasn’t detailed yet. It was a fun test drive. Really needed a reminder of what I’m waiting for.
 

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shay2nak
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Thanks, Larry!!

Damn, CO is awesome. do you happen to have more pics? (larger ones, too?)


today has been an awesome day!!!
 

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See Larry, I told you they'd want lots of pictures! ;) Sorry everyone, I had my camera but left it in my car. It wasn't the best setting for pictures (all those Italian cars in the way ;) ).

As Larry mentioned, we stopped by the service department first. Talking to them about the clear bra was interesting; they have their own local installer who can perform the same service, with a little more coverage for a little more money (or so he said...only details I remember is that their kit includes headlight coverage, and full coverage on the mirrors). He wasn't impressed with the quality of work of the port-installed clear bra, and I must say I agree. One of the most noticeable defects was numerous 'air pockets' at the edges where there was not good adhesion between the plastic and the paint (specs of dirt trapped, perhaps?). The plastic was not as smooth as it should have been; lines/creases were evident if one stared closely. That said, I still think it's worth having some sort of clear bra installed. We saw the work their installer had done an a Vanquish, and I must say it looked a lot better than the Elise's clear bra (and the Vanquish was a 10k mile example).

The Chrome Orange looks fantastic up close, the way the metallic flakes help scatter the light, creating shades of yellow along the body lines. From ten feet though, it's just a flat orange. Still looks great, but you gotta love orange to want that car, it's BRIGHT. The car is impossible to miss...talk about a ticket-getter. Keep it slow!

The drive: I kept it under 5k, spending most of the time around 3k in 2nd and third gear, as mine was only the second test drive the car had been put through. Even taking it easy and keeping rpms low, the car was fun, comparable to a naturally aspirated MKII MR2 pushed hard. The steering is of course fantastic, felt like the European S2 (as it should)...that's probably my favorite aspect of the Elise. Didn't care much for the brake pedal, it was really soft but I think that's just something I'll get used to. Clutch was easy to adapt to, typical Toyota friendliness. Starting from a full stop was easier than in my 1.8T Jetta; the Elise's low end torque and light weight surely being the key. Rearward visibility is worse than I remembered, it's as if the rear spoiler grew! During the drive, there was an intermittent beeping every minute or two...we didn't really know what that was so just ignored it (no idiot lights were on). Seats are wider...not as snug as I'd like around the midsection, but I doubt I'll be sliding around at all so that's not a big deal. Getting in with the hardtop on was interesting! Suspension was nice, car rode smooth, though I think I'd prefer a slightly stiffer setup and one bump seemed to bottom out one corner and create a good thunk. I'll be happy with stock suspension, but think LSS is not going to be nearly as bad as Lotus was warning back at the LA Auto Show. Engine sounded great; the stock exhaust was louder than I expected though I may have been confusing that with intake noise, as there was plenty of that too (keep in mind, this was touring pack car, supposedly with more noise insulation, right?). The engine is very free-reving...not as much rotational mass as many I've driven. Reverse was a little difficult to engage fully, but then, it's a new tranny, so can't fault that. The hardtop left plenty of headroom; I have an average 6' frame and had 3-4" of headroom left. Should be enough room for a helmet.

Keeping it under 5k, I still enjoyed the drive. If redline were set at 5-6k, and there was no VVTi, I'd still buy the car. I can only imagine what it must feel like above 6200 rpm.

It was a fun drive, and a great way to help me find some much needed patience to tide me over until my car arrives...
 

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A couple more thoughts...

Larry, being the first to test drive the car, got a firsthand lesson in starting the Elise. After setting off the alarm a couple times, he and the dealer rep finally got it figured out.

I wore my size 11 Adidas tennis shoes, and was surprised to find I still had issues with pedal spacing. Granted, it's a wider shoe than most (side support at the front). I had minimal clearance between my right shoe and the brake pedal. The clutch dead pedal was difficult to use efficiently due to the proximity of the clutch pedal itself (but I expect this is something we'll all get the hang of over time). That footwell is just really tight. I bought some of the Puma SpeedCat shoes, and expect that to be a wise investment.
 

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Matt, Larry: Any notes on how they're arranging test drives? I talked to my salesman last week, and he said the test car was imminent -- but he didn't offer to arrange a test drive or anything, and I didn't push him. Plus, I want some miles on the car before I drive it. (But then again, on the flipside, I have this horrible vision on someone shunting the car before I get my turn! :confused: )

Did you drive alone or with a salesman in the passenger seat?

What was your total driving time each?

Are you guys going to eschew the clear bra at the port, and have SVAG do it instead?

Any specific news on dealer installed options?
 

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JonM3Coupe said:
Matt, Larry: Any notes on how they're arranging test drives?
Schedule this with your salesman.


Did you drive alone or with a salesman in the passenger seat?
The salesman we're both working with had to leave right around the time the Elise pulled up, so he sent us out with one of the service guys instead.


What was your total driving time each?
I'd estimate 15 minutes? When I drove the Euro S2, I was led on a short route up into the hills nearby (turn right off of Bascom, go up a bit, turn around and come back). This time, I was led along a longer route that joined up with that same road (you probably know which one I'm talking about).


Are you guys going to eschew the clear bra at the port, and have SVAG do it instead?
No. I've already orderd the port-installed bra, and as my car is due in port any time now, I do NOT want to change my order and potentially create any delay whatsoever with my car. Since the port-installed bra has a warranty, I feel like whatever defects it may or may not have can be dealt with via that method.

Now, if the timing were different, I would have SVAG install the clear bra instead, no question about it. It costs more (~$300, I think), but then they're taking ownership of that process and will stand behind the work. The person who installs the bras on all the cars for SVAG knows that the work must be top-quality or s/he will lose the work. I don't have confidence that the port installer has the same incentive. I may be wrong. FYI, the SVAG-installed clear bra has a warranty also.


Any specific news on dealer installed options?
Sorry, didn't talk about that much. The service guy we talked to WAS curious about what sort of accessories we've heard people talking about on the internet, so they're definitely looking to support the Elise as much as possible. We told them a supercharger would be a very popular option, and that they'll probably sell a lot of stage 1 exhausts as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Test drives for now are first come first serve, no appointment per say. Would be best to set it up with your salesperson. Drives are with a salesperson . Total time was around 25 min, with about ½ on the back roads.

SVAG clear bra is $1200, said it was the same coverage as the Lotus plus the headlight. As my time gets nearer will double check into the details, for now my plans are to go with dealer install.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’d talked to the parts manager. At the time he didn’t have detail how-to install info, so no pricing on that. Also nothing new from what I’d posted a month or so ago.
 

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MattG said:
As Larry mentioned, we stopped by the service department first. Talking to them about the clear bra was interesting; they have their own local installer who can perform the same service, with a little more coverage for a little more money (or so he said...only details I remember is that their kit includes headlight coverage, and full coverage on the mirrors). He wasn't impressed with the quality of work of the port-installed clear bra, and I must say I agree. One of the most noticeable defects was numerous 'air pockets' at the edges where there was not good adhesion between the plastic and the paint (specs of dirt trapped, perhaps?). The plastic was not as smooth as it should have been; lines/creases were evident if one stared closely. That said, I still think it's worth having some sort of clear bra installed. We saw the work their installer had done an a Vanquish, and I must say it looked a lot better than the Elise's clear bra (and the Vanquish was a 10k mile example).
This is great news :clap: It means that we are able to get custom paint (whether it be stripes or your choice of tasty bits) applied to the Elise and get the clear bra applied over it (presuming the additional paint is not too thick).
Larry
 

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I was at SVAG today around 2pm and checked out CO demo hardtop and saw another yellow customer car (which was with top down).

Talked to my salesman and he said they'd start giving testdrives Monday. Apparently there is no waiting for this at this time. I'm going to come Monday 5pm for testdrive.

LarryB said:
Test drives for now are first come first serve, no appointment per say. Would be best to set it up with your salesperson.
 

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apkom said:
I was at SVAG today around 2pm and checked out CO demo hardtop and saw another yellow customer car (which was with top down).
I believe that car belongs to an employee of SVAG, so you'll probably see it around there quite often.
 

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[sarcasm]THanks guys for posting to the SVAG thread in the Regions forum!![ / sarcasm]

This is news to me!! I better get down there and get a test drive!

Best,
John
 

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Well, I just got back from my test drive at SVAG, so I thought I'd write up my thoughts on the car -- basically anything that struck me as different than what I've read here on ET.

I was impressed, but not as much as I thought I'd be -- admittedly a tall order after this much waiting.

They had taken the hard top off, and Justin (a salesman) took me out for a test drive, which was probably more than 30 minutes, but included a stop to get gas. BTW, 7 gallons filled the tank!

There was no mountain driving, just route 17, back and forth between their service center with an onramp at each end. I asked about a drive with some turns in it and got a firm no, and was told this test drive was longer than most people got. I have had a deposit down for 10 months.

The brakes are truly phenomenal. They don't require nearly as much effort as people had led me to believe -- about the same as my E36 BMW M3 with leaky master cylinder :). The feel is the best I have felt in any car I have driven. I love the brakes.

OTOH, the non-power assist wheel takes some getting used to. I found it really interfering with the road feedback around low speed corners, though I suppose this just takes some getting practice. Seeing as my test drive included 1/2 dozen corners at most, I'm probably not the best judge of this.

I think I would almost certainly want to order LSS. The standard suspension was very supple and absorbed bumps very nicely. However, the car felt almost (dare I say it) floaty (!!) compared to my aforementioned M3 with poly bushings, bilsteins, 340#/inch springs, camber plates, sway bars, etc etc. I always considered the M3 suspension "just fine" for the street. Perhaps this shows how out of touch I am with what other people consider acceptable for the street.

Back to the Elise: I'd turn the wheel and wait for what seemed like forever for the orange hump of the fender to dive and then grip. Maybe the car got a bad alignment?? I immediately got back in my M3 and drove it after the test drive, and reminded myself that I wasn't making it up... turn in on my M3 was much quicker. Perhaps I'm comparing apples to oranges since one car is stock and the other isn't.

Back in my M3 I really felt like I was driving a bread truck in that I felt I was about 6 feet off the ground. Given it was a bread truck with very nice turn in ;). It also had a lot more torque -- I have the engine that is 321 horsepower/ 260 ft-lbs of torque @ 3100 rpm. I have no idea what it does 0-60 in but it's sure not 4.6 seconds or whatever the Elise is claimed to be. Yet, my M3 felt significantly faster in a straight line. Just goes to show 0-60 is not always the best measure of a car's speed. If the Elise was above the cam switchover, then perhaps they were about the same, but that's just not a practical way to drive a street car.

I guess all I mean is that after hearing comments like "wow oh wow this car is sooooo fast!!" I was quite a bit disappointed. It's quick - and very quick above 6k - but nothing even remotely breathtaking. Perhaps I'm spoiled.

Overall though, I guess I came away with the impression that most do -- the car isn't about straightline speed or even road course speed, but just connection with the driver. It's a very telepathic car that I felt at home in within just a few miles. And it is incredibly easy to drive, and very mild-mannered. I wasn't expecting that. It could really be a daily driver, assuming you have no passengers, cargo, and don't mind the ingress/egress.

I would really like to drive the car on some twisty roads or if I'm really lucky a car with LSS before making my mind up for sure.

For those ready to sign, Justin told me they have a silver and a black Elise coming in soon that are yours for only "$10k-15k over sticker" (his words).

I just wish test drives were longer. The magazine writers get days if not weeks with the cars and they're professionals. We amateurs have to make a judgement on just a few miles of drivng. I asked to go back when things got a little less hectic and was told to "come back in a few months". Nevermind that I have to order a car "by August" according to Lotus.

Best,
John
 

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JOhn,
I guess I don't understand, but why would the fact the steering is not power assisted reduce road feel, would seem it's exactly the opposite with no assist to damp out the road surface.
Chris
 

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zvezdah1 said:
JOhn,
I guess I don't understand, but why would the fact the steering is not power assisted reduce road feel, would seem it's exactly the opposite with no assist to damp out the road surface.
Chris
I guess what I mean is that I am expecting an assist from the P/S pump and instead the wheel gets "jerked" from my hands which is fairly disorienting, and makes me forget about what I am doing and feeling the road through the wheel. My immediate reaction is that the engine has stalled (happens all the time in my M3 with an Al flywheel) ;).

Like I said, something that's likely to go away with practice. I see what you are saying about road surface -- one of the few turns I got to make was a left up a hill to go park the car next to the dealership, and the wheel was very difficult to crank as I started up the hill (and as the car was only feet from, and pointed straight towards a yellow 360 Spyder!!) . I see how this sort of feedback is useful, but in a case like this I found it distracting.

I don't think too many people here have that much experience with non-P/S sports cars, and as I said, my drive didn't involve too much turning. I'm hoping to get a more informative test drive some time before I order.

I drive a car that has a power steering pump intended for the European market -- much less assist than any American market car I've driven. But at the risk of being called a weakling, I just found it very distracting to have to labor so much to turn the wheel at low speeds... I thought the benefit of a more direct mechanical linkage was more evident when you were travelling faster and didn't have to muscle with the wheel, but I'm not by any means claiming to be an expert....

Comments welcome.

Best,
John
 

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suv_bait said:
Comments welcome.
it is just a matter of getting used to it. I've had both & will admit that it is a bit distracting when as you're becoming familiar with it. Even switching from one non-PS car to another will give you a whole new feel depending on how wide the front tires are, how heavy the car is, the steering ratio, the caster angle (I think it's caster that causes your wheels to recenter, right?), etc.

Once you're used to it, it's second nature (as I'm sure you've guessed). Again, once you get used to it, you'll notice more of what is happening with the tires, suspension, & brakes. Granted, I've never driven an M3, but I have driven cars with speed sensitive power assist and they're nowhere as good as just having the rack and pinion. :)
 
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