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Tire clearance measurements

1579 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  z06fun
On Monday I went to see the Elise with the Sport package at the Pittsburgh show. I checked all the different tire clearances I could along with a few other things.

For the front tire I took a "tread width" type measurement, measuring where I thought the tread would rub the inside liner to where the tread would rub on the outside at the fender. It was about 7.75". The front tire section width was about 8.25". These seem to be wide compared to other 195's.

For the front tires, with the wheel at both locks I measured the clearance between the tire and inner liner (by seeing how many fingers of clearance existed) or wheatever seemed to be the closest point to the tire on the inside. The minimum tire to wheel well clearance seemed to be at the rear of the front tire. So for example if the wheel was turned all the way to the left, the drivers side front tire clearance to the wheel well was 2 fingers (about 3/4"). I could not really tell what the outside edge clearance to the clam would be when the wheel scrunches up into the fender. But it didn't look like there was a lot of extra room on the outside. So we may not be able to gain clearance by using a spacer since the outside edge may rub first.

Looking at the Kumho V700 205/45/16 specs, the 205 is 8.1" section width, but thats on a 7" rim. On the 6.5 rim that will be less. It looks like it may be very similar in width to the 195's on the car. Also the 205 has a 5mm shorter sidewall which will help too. So I dont see any reason that tire would rub, unless there is a whole lot of compliance in the A-arm bushings. The Hoosier A3S04 205/45/16 is listed as having a section width of 8.6", also on a 7" rim. That tire may fit but its hard to know how much clearance is needed for bushing compliance and sidewall flex. If it rubs, it seems like it would only mildly rub since its only ~1/4" wider per side compared to the stock LSS tire.

The rear tire section width I measured was about 9.25". The minimum clearance I could find on the rear tire was about 1.5 fingers, so maybe ~5/8". That was about midway up the tire, near the top there was more clearance. I think the rear has less of a clearance porblem in general because there is a lot of clearance on the outside edge. A 1/4" spacer could be used if needed. The Kumho V700 225/45/17 has a section width of 8.9" on a 7.5" rim, should be an easy fit with no spacer needed. The 235/40/17 has a section width of 9.5" but thats on a 8.5" rim so it would probably fit easily with a 1/8" spacer using the 7.5" rim. The Hoosier A3S04 225/45/17 has a 9.5" section width on a 7.5" rim so that too should work with a 1/8" spacer.

Also I noticed that the car had been lowered so much that in the rear there was only about 3/8" of travel left till the bump stop was contacted (that was with no one in the car). Unfortunately I didn't think to check if the front had more travel. Its nice having the shocks inverted allows you to see this very clearly (aside from the unsprung weight benefit).

The car had the soft top on and, due to the bowed shape of the top, there is a lot of headroom, I had 5+ fingers of clearance. That's slightly more than what I get in my Z06 or S2000. I will easily fit with a helmet. I am 5'10" but have a longer torso than your average 5'10 person.

Also, the front sway bar was not adjustable, it only had one hole for the endlink. But, it has a nice long flat end so it looks like you could easily drill an additional hole in front and in back of the hole that is there. This would give a stiffer and softer setting if needed.

I measured the trunk insides and it looks like you would not be able to fit a 205/45/16 tire in there even if you could get it through the opening. There is a small bump on the front most wall of the trunk (for exhaust manifold clearance in the engine bay). The distance from that bump to the very rear was ~22". A 205/45/16 *may* fit with the trunk slightly open. The trunk depth was about 9".

Also, a while back someone had asked how the Ardent red compares to the porsche Guards red. It just so happened that right across from the elise was a Guards red boxster. The Guards red looked slightly lighter to me, like it had a very slight orange tint compared to the Ardent red elise.

One thing I forgot to measure was the steering turns lock to lock, but hopefully the car mags will provide that soon (unless one already has and I mised it).

After finally getting to sit in the car, I can not wait to take it on a run!
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The show cars (at least for LA were lowered slightly from standard ride height)
Excellent work, thanks for posting this!

In addition to the point Chris made, wasn't there also doubt that the show cars actually have the LSS suspension pieces? From the information I saw, it sounded like they might only have the wheels, and were lowered.
I do remember reading that one of the Lotus reps said at the LA show that the cars had been lowered. I was thinking the reason they were able to be lowered was because maybe they all had the LSS pieces since the standard suspension is not listed as being adjustable. I was just mentioning how low the one I saw was because, if it had the actual Sports Pack parts and it could be set that low, I don't think that setting would be useful since there is very little travel. Although I suppose you may be able to trim the bump stops...
Reportedly the LA show cars were lowered as far as the adjustable suspension would allow, which isn't much. For an LSS equipped car, the lowest notch would only lower it another .4". for a standard car, it could be lowered .6".

Both suspesnions are adjustable, but only the LSS comes with the adjustable steering rack to avoid changes to the bump steer curve if the suspension height is changed.
I have a set of 205/45-16 A3S04s mounted on 6.5" wide wheels. They are monstrously wide. I'm pretty sure that they are wider than my 215/45-16 Falken Azenis on the same wheels, and they are nearly as wide as the 215/40-16 A3S03s, if not just as wide.
John thats great news, can you measure the section width? Since you have it on the 6.5" rim it will at least give us an idea of how much extra width will need to be accomdated. The up side to the Hoosier being wider is that the outside edge of the tread will be somewhat rounded on the 6.5" rim, compared to the stock 195.
I would be happy to buy a 205 V700 and take it to Lotus in Atlanta to test fit. Think they would go for it? Who would I call/email?
Update - I finally have my Autox tires and wheels and I was able to take some measurements to compare to my initial guesses about the actual widths of the Kumho Ecsta V700 R compounds.
I have them mounted on the SSR wheels (LSS sizes).
The front is a 205 and its section width is 8.0" mounted on the 6.5" wheel, so it should not rub.
The rear is a 235 with a section width of 9.25" mounted on the 7.5" wheel, so it should not rub either.
Both of those are very similar to the stock LSS tires in section width and they are shorter sidewall so I can't see them rubbing. The fronts are about $130 each, the rears are about $150 each. I don't run hoosiers simply because they don't work well in cool or cold conditions combined with not-so-grippy lots where you can't build heat in the tire.
When I actually get my car I can actually verify that they don't rub :)
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