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My Lotus Diary February 2002

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1st February 2002

Looks like a few people have got fed up with waiting for the new hardtop for the Elise S2 and are designing and developing a gull-wing hardtop themselves. Priced at £1250 it's going to be popular. Full details can be found on the British Cars BBSRemote site (click on the "Lotus BBS" and then the "Elise General" section).

Lotus have recognised that lots of people are struggling to insure the Sport 135 upgrade for the S2. That's the problem with making it an aftermarket upgrade and not a homologated car. To circumvent the problem Lotus Esteem have agreed to insure the Sport 135 with a 5% premium over a standard car. Whether they were good value in the first place remains an unanswered question though. Probably worth a call though, just in case.

3rd February 2002

Hard-tops are the topic of discussion for the week it would seem. The Elise S2 hard-top is still no where to be seen and a few independents are finally looking seriously at the opportunities. A gull-wing sounds great but, from an engineering point of view, I don't think it's realistic. A stowable two or three piece would be a much better prospect in my opinion. Have Lotus taken on too much in promising a gull-wing design and at what point will they recoup their development costs? Another supplier of S1 hard-tops enters the market, Kelvedon Lotus are now selling a S1 hard-top for 825 (inc. VAT).

6th February 2002

Following the same theme, ReverieRemote site are producing a carbon fibre, gull-wing hard-top for the 340R. If they can get enough people interested, it will come in at £3850!

EVO Magazine review the new MG TF in the March issue and it comes second to the Toyota MR2 which doesn't bode well for it. Their long term test of the VX220 comes to an end and it sounds miles more reliable than their new MINI. Shame abouut the depreciation though, nearly £7000 in 5 months!

20th February 2002

Lotus have announced the after-market Sport 135 upgrade pack for the S2 and it is a tad too expensive for most. At £1750 (inc VAT) plus 8 hours fitting, it is going to cost about £2500 by the time you add the sports exhaust. The plus side is that it is Lotus approved and warranted, comes with a Lotus ECU that should meet future emmissions test.

Personally, this is the one to have despite the associated costs. If only there was a fully approved S2 Sport 135 model available directly from Lotus. If I was in the position to do this upgrade I would negotiate hard with a dealer to reduce, if not remove the fitting costs.

24th February 2002

Well a new S2 hardtop will be official shown at the Geneva motorshow in March and it's going to be idential to that on the VX220. No gull-wing design but a simple one piece hardtop weighing in at a respectable 9½kg. Shame it's not a stowable item on board though. As always mention by Lotus, the new hardtop will require a new roll-bar cover and hence a new soft-top. These latter two items will become standard fitment on new Elise cars. It's a bit worrying that Lotus state the new hard-top will take six minutes to fit! So what will a new hard-top, roll-bar cover and soft-top cost?

More controversially, the show car will also feature the new air-conditioning option. Still, it is an option! Weighing in at 15kg, it features new vents and an improved heating system, this latter item becomng a standard fitment to the S2 car. In some ways this supports the previous customer feedback suggesting that the S2 heater was not up to the job. Can't say I like the new interior updates to accomodate the air-conditioning unit and the radio has been moved to pretty much sit in front of the passenger. The PistonheadsRemote site web site has a few pictures. There must be some good deals on the 'old style roof' S2 cars in the dealer network to be had.

25th February 2002

Turns out that someone round the corner from where I live owns a bright red VX220. Had a good chance to look over it at the weekend and my original opinion from the Motorshow still holds true. If you can look past some of the more controversial detailing, the VX220 is a better looking car than the Elise S2. It is a more balanced design with a more purposeful appearance and stance. I would still buy an S2 but it shows that Lotus could use the next Elise face lift as an opportunity to make a stunning looking car as well a stunning driving machine.

28th February 2002

Looks like the VX220 is not selling too well. Only 450 have been bought in the UK since the launch in August 2000 (target was 1000). Lotus are reducing production and now only 2000 will be built (original projection was 3000). The base model will stop being produced in December and the remainder will the 180bhp turbo-charged version with an Elise beating 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds. Another reason why the base Elise should be hiked up to 140bhp. I wonder what a 180bhp VVX220 will cost? VX220 owners now also have their own official Vauxhall Sports Car ClubRemote site.

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