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My Owners Diary February 2001

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1st February 2001

Apparently the preferred term for the new Elise within Lotus is Series 2 or S2. If I order an Elise S2 now, I can realistically expect delivery in July according to the dealers. Unless my financial position changes drastically, I'm looking to pick up a new Elise around September 2001. In order to guarantee one I may have to put a deposit down next month. I may wait until March 2002 and avoid the winter period of ownership. The Race Tech (£26,393.50 on the road) and Sport Tourer (£26,193.50 on the road) options are better value for money if they meet you requirements but the basic specification that I want comes in at £24,468.50 on the road (no hardtop included). This a basic spec Calypso Red, cat 1 alarm, driving lights, cloth seats car, 2 speaker radio kit, plus a few options like cross-drilled brakes, very similar to my last Elise in fact.

The delays in production and development have also meant that the higher power variants of the new Elise are delayed. Lotus knows that this gives the aftermarket companies an opening into the lucrative upgrade market but, they are working hard to limit this window of opportunity and the new ECU amkes it harder for aftermarket companies to offer upgrades. I predict 145bhp and 170bhp variants will be announced by about September time, the power output chosen to differentiate the new models from the old. A 200+bhp race track version is also a certainty and it will be interesting to see what wheel and tyre sizes make it onto the higher power models. Only Rover K-series engined Elises are likely to appear in 2001/2.

2nd February 2001

As a member of the Official Lotus Club (OLC), I get access to the Lotus Life bulletin board. This is an excellent forum which justifies the membership fee on its own. Currently, Nick Adams (Elise S2 lead designer) is a guest editor and is providing some excellent responses to the questions posed. Not only that, he is responding openly and with technical detail, to every question within 24 hours.

It would appear that the new Elise engine management systems monitors the Elise catalyst efficiency. Replacement of the catalyst with a straight through pipe will cause the 'check engine' warning light to come on, so it looks like the latest legislation is starting to catch up.

5th February 2001

The new OLC members magazine arrived this morning. Rebranded as Lotus Life, it now features a lot more interesting articles and very few adverts. Very little info on the Elise S2 though. A missed opportunity in my view.

6th February 2001

The March 2001 issue of EVO MagazineRemote site features a giant sports car test which includes the Elise S2. I don't usually hold much credence with TV or magazine reviews but, EVO is currently the best one of the bunch and this is a comparative set of tests. These comparative tests tend to negate the effect of the varying skills of the drivers. For copyright reasons I can't reproduce it here and anyway the rest of the magazine justifies the cover price but, the Elise basics follow. The set of tests result in an EVO Performance Rating (EPR) and include time exposed to danger (as copied from Driven), 0-100-0 mph, a slalom, lateral g and a wet and dry circuit timing. This test is of particular interest to me as it includes the Subaru Impreza WRX, the new version of my Impreza Turbo. Like the Elise, the new Impreza has a new look. It is heavier than my 2000 model by 150kg. The test also features a Caterham R500, Porsche 991 turbo, Maserati 2300GT, HSV holden GTS-R, Mitsubishi Evo VI, Renault Clio V6, Sport Clio 172, Impreza WRX, Celica 190, Peugeot 306 GTI-6, BMW X5, Ford Puma 1.7 and VW Lupo GTI.

The 0-100-0 is a hard test on any car, especially one with 4WD. Not transmission friendly at all. The Elise gets to 100 in 18.9 seconds and shows it lack of power slightly. The Impreza does 18.3 and I'm sure my Impreza is quicker by virtue of its lighter weight and more 'in-your-face' power delivery. The quickest by a fair margin is the R500 at 8.8 seconds! I'd like to try that. 100-0 mph is never going to be a strong point with the Elise, especially when all the competitors (bar the R500) have ABS. It takes an exceptional driver to beat ABS in all conditions. Sacrilege I know but, there will come a time when the Elise also has ABS. The Elise comes last at 5.2 seconds, with most coming in around 4.7-5.0, the Porsche winning it at 4.3 seconds.

The TED test is politically correct in that it starts at a rolling 45mph and it just so happens that most cars are doing 60-70mph by the time they've passed the lorry, also travelling at 45mph. In reality, we often have to start at 60mph and end up at the 100mph mark before pulling back in. The Elise does pretty well at 5.3 seconds. The Impreza (5.7 seconds) is actually beaten by most of the other cars, partly down to the Turbo lag, but also it's weight. Political correctness aside and with a 60mph start, the Impreza would be in front of the Elise.

That the Elise wins the slalom is testament to the improved handling and balance. Quicker than the R500 by virtue of light weight, balance and poise combined. This is the sort of test that justifies my buying an Elise, as it is close to the B-road driving that I do, where top speed is not an issue. I quote, "It's a mark of the progress Lotus has made with the new generation Elise that it posts the fastest time. The old Elise's lift-off tail-happiness has clearly been eradicated, as the new car feels tight, nippy and nimble. There's a great balance front to rear. Superb resistance to understeer makes it less sensitive to turn-in speed, and it's easy to tighten your line and shave a few fractions of excess speed when required. The steering weight significantly increases on the limit though, and you need a strong pair of forearms to work from lock to lock."

The lateral G test is another interesting one as it again shows that the car has balance and greater grip than the out going model. The Elise comes third with 0.79g behind the R500 and Porsche. The Impreza is well down the list at 0.72g, due to it's weight. "The Impreza is utterly stable to the point of being inert". In the wet this still applies thankyou, and I'll take the Impreza every time!

The dry handling circuit had the Elise second but a few cars were not tested (R500, Evo VI) at 41.66 seconds, behind the Porsche at 40.66 seconds. The Impreza was down at 43.92. They liked the new Elise on the track a lot. Overall the Elise came fourth behind the R500 (1st), Porsche 991 Turbo (2nd) and Evo VI (3rd). The one factor thay did not take into account was cost and if they did, I'm sure the Elise would prove the most cost effective fun from this group.

For me this review, again shows that the Elise has dynamically improved and that it would do so much better in tests like these, with a bit more power. I'm not happy with the quoted 0-100mph time though. The close ratio gearbox ought to have more effect and the old model was quicker according to EVO's figures, despite being a few kilograms heavier. Let's see what a 160bhp version scores in a six months time.

7th February 2001

It would appear that my suggestion for yellow LEDs on the new Elise instrumentation has been passed on to Lotus after sales for evaluation, to see if it can be offered as an option. I'm sure I can't be the only one to have suggested this but, it would be excellent news indeed, if something came of this, and the link between customer recommendation and production line improvement was proven. This is the only real criticism I have with the interior of the new car, since it is a safety issue. The rest are down to styling and personal taste and although not ideal, I can live with them. Interestingly, all of the responses I've had to date suggest that you turn the Stack, blue lighting down to minimum, so that you can better read the dials. Kind of proves my point I think.

It would appear that the Vauxhall badge has had one positive effect on the VX220, it is an insurance group lower than the Elise at group 16. At least VX220's will be delivered to customers soon. The latest reports suggest that the first pre-specced Elises will now appear mid May. Delivery of Elises not pre-specced are likely to be 6-8 weeks later. Some dealers are already quoting September delivery on orders placed now. Expect some good deals soon on Exiges, as they are piling up at the factory apparently.

9th February 2001

If plagarism is the most sincere form of flattery, then I'm flattered by this siteRemote site. And this oneRemote site!

12th February 2001

Interesting article on the Association of British DriversRemote site website on the 'Speed Kills' debate. Don't you just love statisitics!

Is it me, or is the official line from Lotus on S2 engine upgrades, a little too practised? The cynic in me is thinking that official denial is exactly the approach that Lotus would take, right up until the day they launch it. Offically, nothing is even planned yet. I don't buy it myself.

13th February 2001

Switched on my OnDigital box last night to find Granada Men & MotorsRemote site reviewing the top ten budget sports cars. Needless to say the Elise came top.

16th February 2001

Planning to test drive the PTP EliseRemote site upgrade next month along with the Strathcarron SC-5ARemote site, as soon as I can find the time. My brother is trying to persuade me that the CaterhamRemote site Superlight R500Remote site is what I'm really after and that I should test drive one before I buy another Elise. If only I could. Looks a little extreme, even by my standards. 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds sounds like fun though.

He's currently finishing off his Sylva StrikerRemote site which offers the comparable weight and power as the Elise but, in a DIY kit form and for about £15k less! I wonder if Lotus will ever offer a self build kit based on their aluminium S1 chassis?

Looks like the manufacturers of performance upgrades are in for a hard time in the future with the latest EU ECD3 regulations on emmissons now in effect. The Elise S2 looks like it is going to be fixed at around 120bhp for a long time according to the information from Nick Adams on the Lotus Life BBS. At least until Lotus come out with an official model with more power. The stage I upgrade is just a new air filter and sports exhaust and won't make that much difference to power output. Cat replacement pipes are a thing of the past.

21st February 2001

Drove up to the Lotus Life club meeting at the factory this evening. Felt a bit blasphemous turning up at the Lotus factory in an Impreza Turbo. It was a great chance to meet some of the Lotus people and other owners. Had a good chat with Dave Minter, Nick Adams, Deb Marsh and John Morgan to name a few. There can't be many car companies where you get to meet the designers and test drivers of your new car! A very good night and well worth the long drive up the A140. Plan to be at the repeat event next month. My new Lotus Life club card and pack was also delivered to me at the meeting.

As you would expect the topics of conversation were the Elise S2 and the club itself. The club is on a high and getting better. Some people came all the way from Kent and squeezed in a factory tour and Elise service before hand. Some good news is that the first customer Elise S2's should be arriving at the dealers in 2 or 3 weeks time. With dealer fit items and PDI's done we should start seeing customer S2's on the road by end of March. To say that I'll be envious is an understatement. The number of cars coming of the line will be ramping up as quality issues with component suppliers are resolved.

Had a chat with Tony Churly who was also at the meeting. He's still got some spaces on the Stelvio 2001Remote site trip, later this summer. He was showing some incredible footage from the first trip on a PC. Over the 110 mile round trip I averaged 19½mpg!

26th February 2001

My attempt at ASCII art:

 _    //    ELISE S2   \\
  /{^\ ^-____] [____--^ /^}\
  { \_}_\)___________(/_{_/ }
  [    _________________    ]
  |\  (_\-\_________/-/_)  /|
  | \___----[_____]----___/ |
  |__|                   |__|

28th February 2001

Looks like the first of the Lotus dealerships has gone to the wall, which must be partly down to delays in Elise S2. I wonder how many more will not make it into the summer? Kinsey Jones has now gone into receivership.

Vauxhall are already planning a hot new roadster to replace the VX220, which will be built in house. This is to complement the new range of sportier Vauxhall's planned for later this year. Buyers of the VX220 now get a performance driving course included in the price, run by Johnathan Palmer in Bedford. Elise owners have an option of doing a similar course at the Lotus factory but, at their own cost.

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