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Lotus Elise Diary - September 2008

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13th September

Finally managed to get my Fury R1 on track, though the day was not without its difficulties. The biggest problem was that my car is so loud. At 2/3rd's revs (let's say 7000rpm between friends :-) ) it was measured at 108dB! I was very envious of the Elise owners I chatted to, who passed at around 89dB. I ended up swapping exhaust before I went out on track in anger. Full details on my Fury R1 siteRemote site. I even managed to capture some half decent video of the event.

14th September

Drove up to Hethel with my son this morning for the Lotus 60th AnniversaryRemote site. I was glad I left early, as it seemed quite busy getting into the site and it took 5-10 minutes to clear the narrow lane down to the car park.

We started in the engineering areas as there seemed to be a lot more stuff open to the public at this event from the factory floor, to the paint and trim shops and the design studio.

One of my main reasons for going was to see the Evora in the flesh and to make my own mind up about the much debated styling and shape. My first impression was that this is a huge car. I can see why it weighs as much as it does. Don't think scaled up Elise, it's a lot biiger. To be honest, the styling doesn't really work for me. It doesn't flow well enough from one end to the other and there are awkward transitions between elements of the car. Calling it a 2+2 is also stretching the truth. The lack of rear seating space is going to disuade a lot of buyers, who will just go for a two seater. If you really are after a 2+2, then there doesn't really seem to be enough space for it to meet this criteria.

In this car, Lotus have added an engine noise simulator, allowing the driver to choose how the car sounds. I sat it in it and listened to the car as it was made to sound like a Subaru Impreza, an Aston Martin, Ferrari, etc. It uses the interior speakers and can be retro-fitted to just about any car. I've owned an Impreza Turbo so I know it wasn't totally realistic but, it was a huge improvement on the fairly anodyne sound from a typical Elise though. I can see Lotus making a lot of money out of this idea!

The fabrication area interested me a lot. It was good to see some old fashioned, real British engineering happening and not some CAD design work resulting in overseas manufacturing. Lotus still have a department making both custom and production line parts in house. Having built a car myself, I know that sometimes you just have to build an bit and see how it works and for one-off 'developments' like this, you need the skills and tools locally.

OK, so the M250 is looking a bit dated compared to some of the latest Lotus offerings but, it flows better overall than the new Evora.

I love this colour scheme and it is in its own right a rather cool car, running on three different fuels. It is also producing 270bhp on bioethanol. My kind of sports car.

For °20 you can book a few laps with a good driver around the Hethel test circuit. I reckon this is good value for money.

I left fairly early at 2.30pm and Lotus didn't seem to have thought about how cars were going to get off site. Potash Lane was now a one-way system! We were sent down some farm tracks and fortunately my satnav got me back onto a main road.

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