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I received a phone call from Mike at Symbolic in La Jolla. They had an Elise there and would I like to drive it? I set up an appointment at 1:30pm to give it a spin.

Some impressions-

1. La Jolla traffic is really getting bad. Specially with the construction, allow extra time. :)

2. Symbolic's parking is not easy either. I took some CEO's space.

3. Symbolic is very cool to just go to. I had been by the front before, but there were so many cool cars inside. One of them I was drawn to was an S1 Elise Sun conversion with the Honda engine. I just like the first generation Elise's style.

4. The guys there were great. I had a good conversation with Graham. He mentioned a few things.

A) They are not going to be using hard numbers because speculators will be lower on the list than existing customers, people that are in their territory, those that are enthusiats, etc.

B) I am on the first 5 of the list. Cool.

C) They have sold about 40 of them. They have been allocated 100 of them and I think 100 for the other Symbolic up north. He thinks they will all be sold with minimal promotion.

D) The buzz on the cars will really take off when they are shown at the LA and SD AutoShows in early 2004.

E) They are on track for an April release.

More about the driving next....
 

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I have sat in an Elise before, the one at the LA Auto Show in early 2002. However, this was the first time climbing into one with the soft top on it. It was not too hard, but I can see how it requires a little planning and some limberness. Having climbed into and out of my racing kart, this is not a big deal. I have some real concerns about the wife... but that is a bridge to cross for a later date, right?

Climbing in, I was immediately struck by how close I was to the passenger. Nice enough guy, the Symbolic salesman, but you could feel the closeness, like sitting in an airplane seat. One's elbows shared the same space in between the seats. This sensation was not long lived though, as I pushed the throttle, I gave it no more thought. However, I wonder what it would be like on a long trip. Would it seem normal after some hours? Or would I long for more room?

We rolled the windows down, and that was not a smooth operation. I noted the window cranks seemed clunky and thought maybe the electric windows would be an improvement.

The next thing was the bump getting out of the parking lot. I could hear the door, or what sounded like the window in the door, rattle quite loudly. I don't mind a bit of noise for performance, but I don't like the distraction of a bad rattle like that. I hope the reports from UK about the 2.5 having solved this are true.

Acceleration for the stock Rover engine pulling this light car was quite brisk. Nothing to write home to Mom about, but than this is not the point of the car. I actually could be happy with this car and this amount of HP. It seemed about as quick as the Toyota Spyder is now. I look forward to driving it with some more ponies.

We drove around the village of La Jolla. For those that know the area, it's really not the right place to put a car through it's paces. And with the salesman in the seat, I wanted to take it kinda easy. I only pushed the car moderately hard a couple of times. One on a u-turn to see how the car felt with induced understeer. Very tossable! I was able to easily get the back end to step out. And I tossed it around a corner a bit of speed, mindful it was not my car and there was traffic. :) It felt VERY controllable.

I was impressed with the stiffness. It felt like my car AFTER being set up for racing. No complaints. I like that part.

Visibility was just a little difficult, I had to get used to the kinda funky mirrors. I think this is more me not feeling that comfortable in the car than the car itself.

This was the yellow Elise by the way. As I was talking to Graham, it was driven away by a local Lotus Club guy who was taking it out for an hour or two. Lucky guy! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, I should have taken pics. Sorry. Next time I will. It looked like this one. :)



My conclusion? I really enjoyed driving the car. My few nit picks are indeed minor things that I am hoping are fixed anyway.

I can get used to the closeness to the passenger I think. I don't mind the pedal placement. Storage space is fine compared to the MR2s. Power will be better. I hope they don't soften the ride up too much, but I don't expect they will. And if they, there will be aftermarket bits.

I was pretty pleased and thankful to Symbolic for letting me have the opportunity.

We did discuss a little the potential for the warranty to be voided if Lotus knew I was racing the car. Not sure, but the party line is, I am not racing it. Okay...

Leaving Symbolic's lot, I was struck by how big and heavy my Mercedes felt.
 

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Great writeup. :)

Does it feel like you're angled to the right due to the pedal placement, or does it feel as if you are fully pointed straight ahead?

Also, what you're thoughts for the Elise as a daily driver based on your short spin?
 

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Thanks!

I knew the pedal placement was more centered than "normal" cars but it did not feel strange to me at all. I did not feel I was cocked to the middle. It felt good to me. I could see taking this car on a track. I think I would feel comfortable with it pretty quickly.

So, yes, it does feel like I am pointed straight ahead.

Daily driver. Well... I am used to driving pretty stiff cars for a daily driver. I replaced my racing car with a Lexus SUV and then decided I did not like driving the SUV, even though the heated leather seats and Nakamichi stereo were very nice. I missed the feel of the road. My Mercedes is lowered with a racing suspension, but it still feels disconnected.

I think I will enjoy it as a daily driver. I expect the main difficulty is attention. Which is not always a good thing.

The things I was not thrilled about (including the slightly long and imprecise shifting), the lower power, the noise in the doors, and the funky looking soft top) are all things that either we know are being upgraded, or are rumored to be changed.

The things I expect to NOT change, the stiffness, the tossability, the styling... I can live with. :)

The last thing, this sense of feeling crowded when a passenger is in the car... well, that might bug me. On the one hand, most of my trips around town are done alone, so it's not a big deal. And I think if I am taking a long trip in the car, it's with the wife... and we are used to being that close. :)
 

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Randy,

Thanks for the insight on your test drive (lucky guy).

I have a deposit on the Elise here in New York but unfortunately the dealer does not have an 111S to test drive.

Can you tell me if my 6'2" frame will fit in this car. I am told by the dealer and others that it will be no problem as the seat sits very low and has plenty of movement back. My dealer is actually taller than I am and was able to drive the one they had at the New York Auto Show in April. He said he was surprised at the amount of headroom and legroom he had.

Any thoughts?

TIA :)
 

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Thanks for the write up. Supposedly when it makes it north, that's the car we'll get to check out. The old GM was OK with a longer test drive into the hills. Hope the new guy is OK with that as well.
 

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Great drive report, Randy, it sounds like the same car that I drove this last February, at the Symbolic in Beverly Hills. Was it the lemon yellow (that is, lighter than the more traditional orangey sort of yellow)?

Fantastic to hear that April is still the target delivery date !

TIA, I'm not a tall guy, but from what I've heard, 6'2" shouldn't be too much of a problem, except that some of those with long legs have said that they can feel kind of bunched-up, with their knee interfering with the steering wheel/shifter area. I do think the Elise is one of those rarities nowadays that is more in proportion with those of us under 6', though.
 

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Thanks mikester,

Hopefully I'll be ok in the car...my height is more in my torso than in my legs but until I actually sit in the version we are getting for the States, I guess I will not know for sure.

Sure hope it works out as I have loved this car for years and it looks like it will finally be a reality next year.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It was the lighter yellow one with Georgia plates.

I feel like I fit perfectly in the car, but I am a little less than 6'2". :) The question may also be about the different top on the USA model.

I feel confident that the leg room will be fine for taller people. I have read elsewhere that people around 6'2" were happy in the car in UK.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If he is right, and it does not slip, and indeed we are looking at an April launch, that is pretty soon. Since I decided to buy this car in December of 2001, it's been a long ride/wait. And the slips in schedule.

But April is only around 10 months away. And we will be seeing some interesting things.

The announcement of the drivetrain from Lotus. July?
Some press releases from Lotus..
The revamping of the Lotus USA website to reflect the Elise
The unveiling of the car at the Los Angeles Auto Show
Details on what colors we really can get. Cosmetic changes. Options.

I am excited about this. This is going to be a wild ride by early 2004. And after a number of us get the car, it will be a blast arranging meets/drives/track events/etc.
 

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It's going to be an exciting 10 months, that's for sure !

As Glenn Frye (sp?) would say, the H is O ! (Old Saturday Night Live sketch) ;-))

Anyway the LA Auto Show is going to be THE big event on my social calendar for January...kind of sad, I know, but like a lot of you, I've been waiting for a loooooong time for this.
 

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A few months ago the local dealer had said delivery was slipping a month (to May). April or May no big deal. For us that are early on the list hope they start out at full production, if not that might add another month or two to the wait. Then again putting in the order a few months before should make it seem real enough (and harder to wait). Haven't been waiting as long as most of you, but it will be nice to have the car fleshed out & even better to own it :D
 

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HI All,
Couple points. I don't think ANY S2.5 cars are in the US. The cars making the rounds are for the most part S2 111S models, these have the 156hp Rover K motors (I've driven a silver and blue one). I suspect the car to be shown at the Palo Alto Concours is one of these.

These cars do not have bumpers and badging is standard lotus lettering in the back.

The target price still remains to the best of my knowledge $38,500.

Also, of interest. posted a couple weeks ago in Autoexpress were "Spy Photos" of the US Elise showing the exhaust (a twin pipe and single were shown) exiting out the bottom of the diffuser. I've yet to see this magazine and have been trying to get my hands on it.

Rumor floating around on the boards is that the engine details will be released sometime in July. (hoping for this!!)


Chris
 

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The Lotus dealer showing the car did say it's the 156hp motor. Also admitted once they unload the car they'll know for sure what they've got. So we'll have to wait & see.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes, but take pics even if it's not. I regret not bringing a camera for my test drive.

But if it's a 2.5, take a LOT of pics. :)
 

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Pictures are up at Symbolic's website and from the looks of it, they were taken at the BH store.
 
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