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My Lotus Diary January 2004

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3rd January 2004

It would seem that the Americans are getting almost as excited about the new federalised Elise as we were about the original S1 Elise launched so many years ago. I'm going to have to start following a few US sites to get an insight into the new car, until we get it over here as an official model. Some sites worth reading:

Manufacturing is apparently scheduled to start in May, with the first cars being shipped in May too. It would be a first if it happens. The US dealers don't know how many cars they are getting yet and they don't have to sell their allocation at the recommended retail price either. The final specification has also yet to be published. Toyota dealers will not be able to service the Elise and it will be hard work for some to get to their nearest Lotus dealership in the US!

The weight has been confirmed at 891kg. That's a lot of Elise. To put it in perspective, the old Peugeot 106 only weighed 830kg. Despite the weight penalty, a 0-60mph tome of 4.9 seconds is claimed. The new car has twin air-bags, anti-lock brakes, a starter button, climate control and a bigger fuel tank. It will be interesting to see what impact the brake servo system has on brake feel and whether the steering has the same level of involvement.

This model is quite a departure from the original Elise brief. If the original development team were told that their baby was going to hit 891kg in the future, they would not have believed it. Actually, that's an understatement. They would be horrified. Having said that, the main market for the Elise is now very different so whether you view this latest incarnation as being better or worse, depends on your intended usage. Personally, I think it is a great car. It is now a much better weekend road car and occasional track day vehicle, with the emphasis shifted away from the track just a little. If I am being honest, it has lost some of its track appeal to more extreme machinery. The development and larger engine have given it more credability though and the safety enhancements broaden its appeal for road use. As someone contemplating a seriously extreme weekend car, this new Elise suddenly has more power and appeal. It is a car that better spans my intended usage and that of my wife. If only they would launch it in the UK. She's sold on the idea of one in Aubergine.

On this subject, it looks like the UK launch of the Toyota powered Elise will be at about the same time as the first US customers take delivery (June-July 2004). This assumes no production 'issues' along the lines of the S2. The new Esprit will be promoted late 2005, with first public outing likely to be Geneva (March) 2006. The delayed M250 will sit between the 'Esprit' and Elise and should surface around 2007. This means that an S3 Elise isn't going to happen this side of 2007. It would appear that K-series engined Elises are already being discounted by dealers to clear the decks for the UK Toyota powered Elises, likley to have the 111S moniker. This implies that the VVC K-series engine has been dropped or will now become the base model.

10th January 2004

From what I've heard, you can now order a UK specification Toyota engined ELise and expect delivery in February. It would appear the base model will remain with the 120bhp K-series, the VVC 111S will also remain (145bhp) and the 111R will be the 190bhp Toyota engined Elise.

25th January 2004

My nearest Lotus dealer, the http://www.strattonmotorcompany.comStratton Motor Company has a new 111R demonstrator.

29th January 2004

Lotus only sold 1305 cars in the UK in 2002 and this dropped to 935 in 2003. That's a 26% drop in UK sales. The start of sales in the USA might just turn things around for Lotus in 2004.

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