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Elise buying dilemma - please help!


flukey

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Hi All

As the title says, I’m currently considering a new S3 Elise as a replacement for my current Audi TT.

This car will be my daily (but don’t worry I’m already convinced I’ll be fine with it and I’m not going to turn this into another “elise as a daily driver” thread!)

Basically right now I’m torn between a top of the line MX-5 (With BBR upgrades) or a sport 220 (with the comfort related extras).

I’ve driven both and loved them both, though I am slightly more drawn to the elise because of the more involved feeling and the fact it feels more ‘special’, I just have a couple of concerns:

 

-          I’m not concerned about the weight of the unassisted steering, but I felt that I was constantly underestimating sharp corners on my test drive because of the additional effort required and overshooting them. Is the rack slow or is this something you get used to? I’m just concerned that I’d be too slow to correct oversteer and end up in a ditch!

 

-          I’ve heard a lot about snap oversteer on the elise due to the mid-engine layout and short wheelbase. Part of the fun in the MX-5 (or any car) is getting it sideways around a nice corner and being able to correct it well (something I crave after 2 years of my TT’s inherent understeer). Is this just a recipe for disaster in an Elise, or just more of an art to get right with the right traction control setting?

 

-          Finally, I drove the elise on a motorway and found that 6th gear sat at ~3.5k RPM which seemed a little high for me, both from an efficiency and engine noise point of view. Do people change the drive ratio for cruising better or am I just being a pansy!?

 

Sorry for the waffle – It’s a big commitment for me and I want to make sure I make the right decision, hope you understand!

 

Cheers - Luke

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  • Bibs changed the title to Elise buying dilemma - please help!

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well, maybe, just maybe, the elise is too hard core for you?

The steering you will get used to. And the feeling it offers (not the speed).

But an Elise is not about drifting.It is possible, but it needs to be a wide roundabout for me to have a go. For me an Elise is about balance. On track you will easily find the right angles and you will feel great, but nobody will see it from the outside.

On  the motorway I cannot comment (different engine), but I have earplugs made for open driving that I sometimes use for the longruns as well.
The feeling of driving a formula car on the road will be difficult to find elsewhere.

Good luck with your decision.

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2 hours ago, Ariaan said:

well, maybe, just maybe, the elise is too hard core for you?

The steering you will get used to. And the feeling it offers (not the speed).

But an Elise is not about drifting.It is possible, but it needs to be a wide roundabout for me to have a go. For me an Elise is about balance. On track you will easily find the right angles and you will feel great, but nobody will see it from the outside.

On  the motorway I cannot comment (different engine), but I have earplugs made for open driving that I sometimes use for the longruns as well.
The feeling of driving a formula car on the road will be difficult to find elsewhere.

Good luck with your decision.

Thanks for the reply.

Actually, after test driving one, the thing that surprised me was how 'uncompromising' it wasn't!

The suspension seemed to skip over bumps better than my TT and the steering was nowhere near as heavy as I expected. There were no squeaks or rattles too, and instead of feeling cheap I felt the interior was actually quite special. 

 

Since I didn't get to drive it on the limit during a test drive, I'm really interested on hearing how easy it is to play with the car at the limit - I'm not expecting a drift missile here haha. If I'm honest I'm a little scared by the numerous videos I've seen of them crashing! I've sort of got the impression that it's either stuck so much to the road it will understeer or spun into the nearest ditch if you do manage to un-stick it!

I'd be really grateful for any input you've got on that

 

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Like any mid-engined car, if you're that close to the limit and lift off you'll get trailing throttle oversteer. Most people's instinct is not to apply the throttle at this point and that just makes the situation worse. I'd like to think if you're driving this hard on a public road you more than likely deserve to be in the hedge backwards as the cars have an awful lot of mechanical grip and the generally need serious provocation to go beyond grip limit. 

 

 

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I concur with the above. If oversteer on the road on a regular basis is what you're after, then the Elise is not the ideal car for you. Clearly a front engined rear wheel drive car will always be able to provide that a lot more naturally than a mid engined rear wheel drive car (Caterham is perfect!). That's not to say you can't drift an Elise, but on the road, in the dry, it's natural grip level will mean you will really have to provoke it to get it to oversteer and it's always going to be naturally more snappy than a front engine rear drive alternative. Think of the Elise as a precision instrument :)

Traction control on the Elise is fairly simple - Normal (default), Sport and Off. You could certainly have fun on a wet roundabout, but proceed with caution! Really though if you want to explore the limits of an Elise, then the road is not the place to be practicing! Get some driving tuition in it from a specialist at an airfield training day or at the Lotus Driving Academy and do a few track days.

There's no reason why you should end up backwards through a hedge in an Elise, unless you try and deliberately provoke it without first having learned how it behaves on the limit in a safe(er) off-road environment. A Lotus Elise is probably one of the finest driving machines that you can buy at any price, but you do have to put in the time and effort to learn it. That's just one of the things that makes it special.

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On 09/04/2019 at 21:26, flukey said:

-          I’ve heard a lot about snap oversteer on the elise due to the mid-engine layout and short wheelbase. Part of the fun in the MX-5 (or any car) is getting it sideways around a nice corner and being able to correct it well (something I crave after 2 years of my TT’s inherent understeer). Is this just a recipe for disaster in an Elise, or just more of an art to get right with the right traction control setting

This is a mid engine, not a back engine (like a 911 would be) so there isn’t really a snap oversteer unless you are on a wet/icy road. I drove it on track pushing it a bit and I was surprised by how much time I had to bring it back in line with the car in sport mode.

the cornering speed and ability to take Latteral G and keep grip I still so much higher than comparable car that getting it sideways on public roads just doesn’t sound right to me. Where the car is completely different is it’s ability to be driven at pace and remain in control. So much more precise than the other cars named here Nd the braking is very different.

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11 hours ago, Neal H said:

I concur with the above. If oversteer on the road on a regular basis is what you're after, then the Elise is not the ideal car for you. Clearly a front engined rear wheel drive car will always be able to provide that a lot more naturally than a mid engined rear wheel drive car (Caterham is perfect!). That's not to say you can't drift an Elise, but on the road, in the dry, it's natural grip level will mean you will really have to provoke it to get it to oversteer and it's always going to be naturally more snappy than a front engine rear drive alternative. Think of the Elise as a precision instrument :)

Traction control on the Elise is fairly simple - Normal (default), Sport and Off. You could certainly have fun on a wet roundabout, but proceed with caution! Really though if you want to explore the limits of an Elise, then the road is not the place to be practicing! Get some driving tuition in it from a specialist at an airfield training day or at the Lotus Driving Academy and do a few track days.

There's no reason why you should end up backwards through a hedge in an Elise, unless you try and deliberately provoke it without first having learned how it behaves on the limit in a safe(er) off-road environment. A Lotus Elise is probably one of the finest driving machines that you can buy at any price, but you do have to put in the time and effort to learn it. That's just one of the things that makes it special.

Thanks for the detailed reply, I just signed up for a day on the lotus driving academy to get a real feel for an Elise's handling on the limit! 

What does the sport mode in traction control do? The dealer couldn't really tell me the differences

1 hour ago, scotty435 said:

I am no driving god, my 250 Cup gave me so much confidence that it made me look like one.

Good to hear, do you find the extra traction control settings of the 250 useful or is it just the extra power and aero that make the car?

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14 hours ago, Bibs said:

Like any mid-engined car, if you're that close to the limit and lift off you'll get trailing throttle oversteer. Most people's instinct is not to apply the throttle at this point and that just makes the situation worse. I'd like to think if you're driving this hard on a public road you more than likely deserve to be in the hedge backwards as the cars have an awful lot of mechanical grip and the generally need serious provocation to go beyond grip limit. 

 

 

Thanks for the details, looks like some people are at least trying to go sideways in an elise! Haha. 

I think my main mistake was to assume that the Elise's limits were anywhere close to useable on the public roads. I guess I just thought that it's nimble handling and small size made it the perfect full throttle back road bomber, though from what you're saying I'd probably crap myself before I got there! 

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I'm sure you'll have a great time on the LDA day and certainly have a better understanding of whether the Elise suits your needs and driving style. I've no doubt you'll leave thinking 'I must own one of these!' :)

Even the 'entry level' car has 220hp these days, and that goes a long way in a 900kg car - make no mistake, it's a very rapid little machine on an A/B road.

Sport mode on TC seems to do two things - it sharpens the throttle response and relaxes the traction control to allow a certain amount of slip before it intervenes. In normal (Touring) mode it intervenes right away if it detects slip. It can't defy the laws of physics though, so if you abuse it, you're on your own!

There are a number of differences between the 250 Cup and 220 Sport - the biggest is the wider front tyres and sticky rubber, plus stiffer damping. The aero is only really noticeable on track. If it's primarily a road car your after, the 220 Sport/Sprint is probably a better option. I was originally after a 220 Sprint, but by the time I'd specced it up it was more or less the same price as a 250 Cup, so I bought a Cup!

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