View Full Version : My Elise - owner's experiences

12-05-2003, 08:53 PM
haven't spotted anyone here writing about their experiences of owning a Lotus Elise, but see lots of rumours and queries, so I thought it might be useful to jot down a few notes of my experiences owning this sublime vehicle.

First, I've only had mine a month, so it's still early days. But I am using it daily to get to/from work.

Mine is a series-1 1999 model; Rover K16 engine with Turbo-Technics supercharger fitted and the catalysor-replacement pipe. This delivers about 195bhp. 0-60mph in 4.6secs and top-speed of about 145mph. So far I've only used it on public roads and haven't taken it beyond 125mph - though even at that speed it was still pulling well.

Yes the roof is a bit more fiddly compared to many modern ragtops, but it's nowhere near as difficult as many seem to believe. It takes about a minute and a half to fit once you know what you're doing. You can have the canvas on and the interior protected from rain in about a minute; the rest is snapping studs into place and tightening. Removing it is about the same. And I have a series-1 model. The series-2 had improved fastenings/design which should make it even quicker.

Getting in and out requires some practise unless you want bystanders to dissolve into paroxysms of hysterical laughter. The door-sill is very high and wide. It's not such a problem when the car is open, but with the roof on it becomes a bit of an art. The roof is very low and the gap through which you have to thread your body is about 18inches high. Tip: always push the seat back completely when getting out. It is also possible to buy a removable steering wheel which would make it easier too. If you are thinking of a hardtop, there's a British company which manufactures a gull-wing design for the series-2 (series-1 in development) which should also make it easier (open the wing in the roof before getting in/out).

I also have a Mazda MX-5 ("Miata" in the US) but driving the Lotus Elise is simply not comparable. The MX5 feels spongey and a real "pretender" after some time in the Elise. In many ways, driving the Elise is like playing a video-game. It goes exactly where you point it, and takes off effortlessly when you accelerate. The handling is superb. I've driven Lotus before (Esprit & Eclat), and the Elise inherits the phenomenal cornering agility that characterises every Lotus. But since it is so light (mine's 730kg) and (at least, in the non-US spec) "raw" (i.e. no creature-comforts or driving aids such as ABS, power-steering,...) the thing makes you feel like you're part of the road. It's impossible to describe. You have to try it.

I've had one problem with it so far, namely a cracked exhaust-manifold due to excessive exhaust heat caused by the supercharger. Pure bad luck, but now permanently repaired. No other problems, not even minor ones. The roof does NOT leak contrary to many reports - so long as you fit it properly in the first place (doh!).

Anyone thinking about buying this car shouldn't. Just do it.


12-05-2003, 10:54 PM
Actually, even having never actually seen one, it's one of my favourite sports car.

Many of us here in North America wish they would have been federalized for sales over here.. but alas... we're forced to read tales of the experiences of others over in England and Europe (a topic discussed many times previously in the Lotus Forum here).

Anyway, enjoy yours...

Oh yeah and shortly it is finally available over here, I'm wondering if I'll see any of them up here in Canada...

[ 12-05-2003: Message edited by: Sherlock ]</p>

12-18-2003, 10:29 AM
Thanks for the insight on a great sports car that is strongly rumored to be coming to the USA ...(finally)

Happy holidays