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  • Birthday January 16

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  1. Well, I was very well looked after by Paul Yip today, brand manager for Lotus at Wearnes, who have been Singapore's agents since just last year. After checking in for the usual Covid procedures here - location tracing check in using a QR code - I was directed to the 5th floor of one of the showroom buildings (Wearnes are agents for a number of marques), and met with Paul by appointment. The small showroom contained two cars - a solid orange painted Exige with its hardtop on, and a solid red Elise 220 Sport with its hardtop off. What a presence these cars have. It was my first time to even look at the cars in the metal. First impressions - low, squat and purposeful design. The cues are all there that this is serious stuff, and not for-show. That impression was amplified when I opened the door. I had read all about how Lotus cars are light, and I know the curb weight of this Elise is under a tonne, so I suppose I expected a door with less substance. It felt solid, and opened and closed with a reassuring clunk. While open, you see immediately too the special aluminium tub structure, and the whole thing feels solid, rigid. Now, I have watched a few videos on getting in and out of this car on Youtube, so with that and a few tips from Paul, I managed to get in first attempt (admittedly roof-off on the Elise). The standard sports seat was snug around my (admittedly not exactly svelte) bum, but I got used to that. I was impressed by the cockpit feel of the driver's position, and the simplicity of it all. I'm 183cm - just a bit over 6' in old money, and I found just the very top of the rev and speedo numbers partly obscured by the fixed position steering wheel, but I suppose you get used to sitting just a touch more slouched into the seat. That open gear lever gate is fun, and the gears felt very positive. Next I got in to the solid orange coloured Exige, with its roof on. A little more human folding required! But having had a go on the Elise I managed the extra contortion required by the solid roof. I was happy to find that there was at least a small amount of head room. "Okay?", said Paul, "shall we go for a drive? I have an Exige ready in the garage on level 3." Oh wow! So, down we went in the lift, and there it was - a 2019 Exige Sport 350 in 'Porsche Riviera Blue' livery, full alcantara, and colour pack with a black pack roof. I got into the driver's seat. OMG! The throttle blip when this fires up. Doesn't that get the pulse quickening a bit? And my first task is to negotiate the car out of its parking slot and circle down two levels to the carpark building exit. Steering at low speed in the carpark? No problem. Lighter than I expected. Clutch was lighter than I expected. (The clutch on my Alfa 164QV was a workout, all those years ago). Gear shift lovely. Gently down the exit lane of the dealership, and time to merge into traffic. I wait for a generous gap and off we go. Within two or three gear changes up and down and I feel atuned already. Everything is so intuitive and direct. I had adjusted the three mirrors before we set off, but still, some lane changes made me nervous - acres of blind spot it seems, but I suppose you start to become 'third eye' aware of what's around you. Light turns red and I'm in front. Green - I decide to give it a 'medium' sort of push, and wow, a good positive shove into the seat back and we are off. Even from around 1500 rpm the car will accelerate so easily, but, it felt to me, predictably. Within 15 minutes I felt very comfortable, as if the car had wrapped itself around my brain. Braking was good too. At one point a guy in a car wanting to turn into our road just gawped, but while gawping, just pulled in front of me (when he should have given way), while continuing to gawp. Braking felt positive, and no problem. Paul took me to a twisty little road that apparently had once, many years ago, been part of a GP circuit. Not much rise or fall, but good tight corners, so I got to experience that bit of increase in weight on the steering in the corners. That, and the view over the wheel arches, and positioning the car felt easy. So, just 30 minutes or so in the car, but what a treat. I had an absolute blast, even at city traffic speeds. (I was careful not to speed - this is Singapore!). So, conclusions from this next step in the process? Firstly, it's everything I hoped it would be, and I haven't even been out at highway speeds, or on some winding hill climb yet. I can already see that a city drive could offer a really positive experience. The car felt really well put together, with great feedback, and I love the simplicity of it. It's amazing that you can still buy into this new in 2020. Secondly, the V6 is amazing. I can see why even street drivers get the Exige (or Evora) just for this. What a thrill. I wonder if the temptation to really let it open up gets too much. I suspect the Elise engine would be enough for me. If the Elise drives like the Exige (minus some of the shove and symphony) I think I could live with that deficit. The way it drives is already rewarding enough. I was open with Paul, and said that it would be a longshot to buy this in Singapore. I'm more likely to buy in the UK at some future point. But, let's see. 😉 There's always that warning - never meet your heroes - and I did have a little of that trepidation today. I had put a lot of time into reading, and watching videos on these cars, and there was the niggling doubt - what if I don't like them as much in the metal? So, I'm pleased to say that that concern is comfortably dealt with. There is always a chance of course that my more likely target - the Elise - will leave me wanting the Exige. But if so, so be it. What I can conclude for sure from today is this: a Lotus - at some point and in some place - is on my horizon. I need a few more driving experiences first to draw enough of a conclusion to choose the model, but I can see what the fuss is about, and becoming part of it is very tempting. Thanks everyone here for the welcome, and for the advice. I can tell already that there is a nice community here. Thanks, Linden. Photos - (I have obscured the licence plates, not sure if that is etiquette here for cars you don't own, but no harm in doing it) - first sight of the Exige in the dealership carpark. the beautiful 'Porsche Riviera Blue' paint is well framed by the giants either side. And then a smiling me right after the test drive.
  2. Thanks for these three suggestions Justin. I have been in email conversation with Jamie Matthews at B&C. He has been very helpful.
  3. Thank you Batmobile, RRSSS, Bibs, and jep for your replies and advice. First step comes in the next few days - I'll be off to see Paul at Wearnes in Singapore. He has an Elise and an Exige in stock. No Evora. But this will give me my first in-the-metal impressions anyway. I don't own any car here, and haven't felt much of a desire to given the cost, great public transport, and lack of interesting driver roads. So owning one in Singapore is a long shot, but never say never. My intention is to own one in the UK. Of course the pandemic is in the way of many things (most of them far more important than my first-world problems like travel), including the practicality of owning and running a car in a country where I don't currently live. But I think part of this process is about having an eye on the future - and a move back to the UK is likely at some point, and my intention is to settle on a sports car and own it for the long haul, rather than to flip. There are good arguments for the various model options, and I'm early in the (fun) process of discovery. Let's see what the visit to Wearnes Lotus yields...
  4. I've been living in Asia for quite a few years and London prior to that, and haven't felt the need for a car, but lately my mind has been turning toward a sports car. In my younger days I owned the following - - 1952 Morris Minor Low Light in BRG, (beautiful), then... - 1980 Mini in beaten up faded red, (loved the go-kart feel), then... - 1992 Alfa Romeo 164 QV in red and black. I loved that Busso engine! (and first job to pay for it as a 6 year old car), then... - 1991 Jaguar XJS HE in gunmetal grey (loved the luxury, but ironically missed the sportiness of the Alfa), then... - 2002 Holden Commodore SS (brief ownership brand new due to a bulk-buy large discount, admired but never loved like the previous cars). Here is what has been on my mind and what has led me here. purpose and focus. Some marques you just feel they make everything for everyone. Sometimes well. But I want a sports car, so that doesn't matter. I've become increasingly concerned about the layers and layers of tech in cars, for a couple of reasons - 1. it can make you passive as a driver, and 2. it moves the car more in the direction of the iPhone: great now, but unusably obsolete past a certain point. I do admire some of the supercar exotica, and have considered some, but worry about specialist parts and labour costs multiplied by all that burgeoning complexity (if it moves it breaks, etc). If I went down this route it would be c1990s, or older. I don't want all the power and torque that are being headlined today. It can be a double-handicap I feel: you break the speed limit in second gear heading midway up the rev range; you paid for all the rest you won't use. I know my own tastes tend to make me head a bit left of field normally. I want a car that will outlast me. So, I have begun my research - Youtube videos from Carfection, Chris Harris, 'JayEmm', etc. It's amazing how much you can soak up after a fair few of these. Here's where I am in my quest to date: Elise 220 Sport, new or near new. This is the likely candidate. All the final tweaks in the 25 year history, reliable engine, more power than I need, some fun elements (open gear stick box, etc), a good lack of useless gubbins, seemingly lots of fun to drive, a little bit of safety, lol (airbags, ABS), and a lack of things that will become useless long before the car does (satnav, etc) messing up the look of it. Exige, any. The main draw here is the V6, not (for me) for its power, but for the feel of it and the sound of it. Different to the Busso I used to have, but delivering an equivalent (probably more so) thrill. But the rest for me are downsides, making this a less likely choice: less practical, the more overt racetrack or supercar looks are less for me, and the rear louvre's restriction on rear visibility is a concern for me (though I have seen there are older Exiges without this). Evora. I mainly tell myself that if its the V6 it should be the Exige ('add lightness', etc), but there is an argument for the Evora. I think its a fine looking car, I would probably use it more than the Exige. My impression is that it is a little more into the real 'exotic' territory - i.e. more things to go wrong, and more expensive to fix/maintain. But I admire it. Outlier option: something much older - Elise or Elan Sprint, and live near a specialist garage ;-) At this stage it's all been desk research, but in a few days I'm going to have the chance to look at an Elise and an Exige. Let's see what an experience in the metal does to my thinking on all this. While I think this will be a long process, I thought I'd introduce myself here now at this point, and as I get further along I'll update progress here. I appreciate all the expertise and experience represented in the membership here - thank you to those who have taken the time to write those up here. As I've gone down the rabbit holes of other hobbies over the years, I've always found the enthusiast community forums really useful (as well as fun). Nice to be here.
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