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Exige S - Dealing with understeer


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I've spoken with some people who know about this sort of thing and race their cars. Their feedback is that the car is setup for the 'average' situation out of the box and there are ways of getting less understeer on tighter corners, however it's not without it's compromises.

 

For more turn in bite, increasing the (negative) front camber will achieve this and removing a 1mm shim and resetting the toe angle is the way to do this. The more negative camber, the less understeer and this is ideal for a dry and relatively tight track (eg Brands Indy). You do however lose some high speed stability so on a circuit like Donington with high speed corners you'll want less negative camber for the Craner Curves for example. Too much negative camber and the car will want to pivot rather than flow. Also, it's worth knowing that the car will tend to 'track' and wrestle with you for the wheel with more negative camber so will make normal driving hard work. 

 

This is of course only really ideal in the dry and for wet conditions you'll want less camber and more tyre on the road for grip, hopefully that goes without saying. 

 

Also, it's worth noting you'll be looking for a hot tyre pressure (after 5 laps) of 30psi. Make sure you check again on the way home and reinflate the tyres or when colder you'll be driving at something like 24psi which will lose stability, an electric pump will be very handy for track days.

 

To go a little further, like with the Exige Cup/Cup R you'll be looking at adjustable dampers. If you soften the front dampers and make the rear dampers stiffer, this will result in less understeer and also you can drop the front ride height and/or increase the rear for the same effect. More rebound in the front dampers will also help with understeer. 

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Great info for V6S owners.

 

Easier option is to just get a V6 Cup  ;)

 

I can confirm that tyre pressures make a huge difference and need to be adjusted throughout the day as the track temp increases. Not everyone bothers doing this but in a corner designed specifically to induce understeer like Rivages at Spa, adjusting the pressures makes the difference between 'lots' of understeer and 'none'.

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Pits - I genuinely have a lot of respect for you and the information you share on the Exige, but it is getting a little tiresome that every post you seem to write ends with 'should have got a Cup' its clear (Jokke for example) that pretty good times can be achieved from a V6S with minor upgrades :)

Bibs - Thanks for sharing this info, I do find quite a bit of understeer on track, Pits is absolutely right in tire pressure seems to be a very critical factor and needs constant checking through out the day.

I would be interested in thoughts on the Nitron upgrade, there seems to be three actual flavours, two available from Nitron themselves (One Way vs Three Way) and then of course the kit from Lotus direct which I believe is Two Way adjustable.

Anybody got any views or recommendations on the three different flavours available? From what I can see the cost of the Three Way kit from Nitron direct doesnt seem that much more expensive than the one from Lotus. I always think a three way is also better than two ;)

www.alias23.com

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It's really not the case that every post I write ends with 'should've got a Cup' and I did use the 'wink' emoticon in this instance to show I wasn't being serious. In fact, I have done nothing but praise the V6S at every opportunity. If anything, it's getting tedious the amount of times I have stated that the V6S is the better car for road and occasional track use.

 

Personally I find the 'understeer issue' to be greatly exaggerated, in my opinion there isn't one at all. The same was said of the S2 Elise but with the most basic adjustment to driving technique I enjoyed an afternoon of glorious drifting around Anglesey in mine which convinced me that the rumours were not well founded. It was Ron Simons' view that there is an issue with his car but qualified that by saying it was only relevant at '9-tenths and over' on a track. Some early test pilots were claiming to have encountered it around roundabouts on the road which I find faintly preposterous. I have yet to experience any understeer whatsoever behind the wheel of a V6S.

 

However, from a purely financial point of view, there must come a point where modifying a V6S to make it go faster around a circuit no longer makes sense. Much like 3-way adjustable dampers. If you don't seriously know what you're doing it's very easy to tie yourself in knots with the set up. I can't imagine how skilled and committed anyone would need to be before they could benefit from anything 'better' than the Nitron 2-way kit, but I do know that the factory rate the Ohlins TTX damper very highly.

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Hey Pits no problem buddy.... Thanks for the response and balance... In terms of Nitrons, I think your right I may be getting tied into knots and the rationale is largely due to the costs...

For example:

Nitron One Way = £1,794

Nitron Lotus Motorsport = £2,999

Nitron Three Way = £3234

Between the one and two theres near £1k differance, where as between Two and Three literally £235...

If your going to spend circa £3k isnt it just worth spending the extra? Personally it feels that the two way should be £2300-2500 in reality but appreciate the ExigeV6 tax!

www.alias23.com

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Agreed, £235 doesn't sound like a lot more for the 3-way dampers.

 

I might be being a complete sucker but I'd like to believe that there must be some advantage to using the dampers that were developed by Nitron just for the Exige. If nothing else, Lotus have exacting standards when it comes to suspension so their influence in the design and spec can only have been a positive one. Also, the 2-way set up has an advantage for me with a limited understanding of car set-up in that I can quickly and easily adjust them, even when time is short such as on a track day.

 

Adjustable dampers are only as good as the guy doing the fiddling so I know that I'd need someone much more skilled than me to get a 3-way set-up working properly. That means paying for someone's time, whereas I have a leaflet from the factory with Gavan Kershaw's recommended settings to refer to for free. I'd hate to think what he charges per hour! Maybe that's what the V6 tax is for!

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I've not played with tyre pressures much but haven't noticed and stability issue when they have been down by 7psi or more all round. That was on the way back from Spa and it was fine however when I took the wheels off to clean them I would say they had worn a little uneven and attributed this to the low pressure so won't be doing that again. Now I'm running 32 front and 38 rear and have always said I thought there wasn't much grip from the front but that is at road speed. Once on track it doesn't appear to be an issue as my driving style loads the front on the way in and the front feels very balanced. I put it down to not driving hard enough on the road so not too bothered. Car is way better than me so just how I like it :-) I may try two clicks softer on the front for road and report back.

Trevor.

I'll get around to it at some point.

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Bibs - thanks for the feedback re: pressures.

 

Interesting re: your point of 30psi all round.  Everything I've read has suggested slightly higher pressure at the rear to compensate for the extra weight.

 

I'd previously been running 32F/38R (Hot pressures) when at the track, but definitely think this was too high, so was planning on 30F/32R.

 

If your suggestion is that the car should be the same front/back, I'll make sure i give that a go too.  Am out at Phillip Island (one of .AU's best race tracks) this weekend.  Can't wait!

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30/32 works well but if the track temp keeps getting hotter and you're driving harder the optimum target hot pressure for racing is 2 bar for the trofeo tyre. Might be different for the corsa.

Naturally the resulting cold temps will be all over the place as the outer tyres will do more work on the track. Going back to 32/38 before road use is a really good idea.

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G'day Pits,

 

Thanks for the note.  Yeah - I'm running the Corsa's, although will be switching to semi comp's as soon as these are up for replacement.

 

Yeah - good point - The pressure deltas between hot/cold I've found to be as much as 8-10psi, so bumping the pressures back up is always a task for the way home :)

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I just went out to the track and found serious understeer. Pirelli says, working temp. of the Trofeos is 2,0, but with a lighter car like the Exige you can try to work with 1,9 bar. Never use pressure less than 1,8 bar, because this could cause damages because this minimum pressure insures the tyre on the wheel shoulder.

 

During a track test with the Exige, the german Sport Auto measured a camber angle of 0:40. This is nothing on track. My feeling would say to go to 1:30 or 1:45 for a better and tougher feeling.

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I haven't been on track in mine (although I've one quite a lot of trackdays in a DC5 and RX-7s), but I definitely feel understeer on the road. I'm used to aggressive diffs in FWD cars (I've driven Japanese-market Honda Type-Rs for over a decade) and LSD-equipped RX-7s and I'm wondering if it's my driving style as Pits says - I usually chuck it in, wait for it to settle and then accelerate round the corner until I start to push wide (if that happens at all) and modulate the throttle accordingly until the lock starts to wind off and it's foot to the floor time.

 

With no LSD and a completely different weight distribution, perhaps this isn't a suitable approach? I get a lot of "nibbling" from the steering wheel in the Exige when pushing round a faster corner and often feel I haven't put enough lock on in slower corners as it's understeering. Is that what others here are 

 

I'll try to adopt a more "slow in, fast out" approach next time out in the Exige to see if that makes a difference. That does seem a bit at odds with a lightweight car (well, lighter than most) that apparently has such sublime handling and grip (and don't get me wrong, it really does grip!), but maybe that's how to do it?

Edited by Ian Lockwood
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Personally I find the 'understeer issue' to be greatly exaggerated, in my opinion there isn't one at all. The same was said of the S2 Elise but with the most basic adjustment to driving technique I enjoyed an afternoon of glorious drifting around Anglesey in mine which convinced me that the rumours were not well founded. It was Ron Simons' view that there is an issue with his car but qualified that by saying it was only relevant at '9-tenths and over' on a track. Some early test pilots were claiming to have encountered it around roundabouts on the road which I find faintly preposterous. I have yet to experience any understeer whatsoever behind the wheel of a V6S.

 

Just thinking, could it be that many of those complaining about understeer are coming from Porsches? Obviously (and fortunately) the Exige has a much lower tendency to oversteer when driven at the limit than the infamous rear engined slaughterhouse.

 

As you said, once you familiarize yourself with the Exige's ride you will probalby be happy with the neutral setup it has.

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Well the very notion of 'having loads of grip' is at odds with the reports of understeer. A car with loads of grip will be having to go very fast to before it runs out of grip at the front. Obviously a driver can exacerbate understeer and cause it to happen sooner but anyone using the full cornering potential of the V6S on the road needs to think about slowing down a bit and saving the heroics for the track. 

 

I haven't driven a V6S on the track unfortunately but I would be amazed if it had what I consider to be an understeer problem. I know how much faster Lotus factory drivers can get the V6S around Hethel than I can go in my V6 Cup. I just don't see how that's possible if the S had loads more understeer.

 

I'm not saying there's no understeer at all (like the freakish Evora which simply refused to understeer even on a wet skid pan!), only that Lotus drivers seem to know how to get the best out of the car, so I would look at visiting the Lotus Driving Academy before I started messing around with front camber angles.

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Ian,

 

As I said in an earlier post, I had understeer on the road but loading the front on the way in under braking at the track I found the understeer disappears in most corners apart fom the off camber downhills like Rivages at Spa (as in Jonny's post)

 

Trevor.

I'll get around to it at some point.

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Right, that's what I'll try - my style is more "get the braking done, then enter the corner on a neutral throttle", so the car has perhaps settled back before I start to turn. If I stay on the brakes a bit later, I'll see if I can get the front to bite. Makes sense with the layout of the car - I'm used to having some weight on the front from the engine (and transmission in the case of the FWD cars), so the lighter front end of the Exige is perhaps working against me in that sense.

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Ian,

You are the opposite of me then :-) and probably why I don't gel with front wheel drive cars so much. My first track day car was an Integra Type R and I destroyed a new set of tyres on my first day with understeer. Live and learn but not easy to change habits.

Trevor.

I'll get around to it at some point.

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Ian, I am with you.

 

My Porsche doesn't has understeer and I do not accept this on a Lotus, because this is a modern sportscar.

The camber setting is like at Porsche, to keep unskilled people alive with getting understeer reaching the limit.

For skilled drivers (or the ones they feel alike) this is kind of boring and a funkiller.

 

My former Boxster Spyder has got finally 1:30 camber setting on the front and this is the way I will go with the Exige. With the current setting I am not able to follow a Porsche with a sport setup and this makes me kind of angry.

 

Surely, with more camber you deal with other troubles on legal roads, but it's not possible to find a one-fits-all setting.

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Ian,

You are the opposite of me then :-) and probably why I don't gel with front wheel drive cars so much. My first track day car was an Integra Type R and I destroyed a new set of tyres on my first day with understeer. Live and learn but not easy to change habits.

Trevor.

 

Funnily enough I had the same experience - first trackday was in a DC2, but it was at an airfield (Elvington) and the terrible surface was the reason it ate tyres. I've only been to proper tracks since then!

 

I used to quite happily leave M3s and Boxsters behind through corners in my (admittedly modified) DC5, so it's certainly not true that FWD is always worse in corners than RWD - for me the limitation is ultimately the amount of power you can get down in a FWD car rather than the handling.

 

Anyway, yes, understeering Exiges... I'll post back when I've had a go at adjusting my cornering style.

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Still places available at the Lotus Driving Academy this Saturday here.

 

If I hadn't already done it I'd be going myself. It's a great experience and unique opportunity to talk to people who really know about the cars and how to drive them.

 

Way more fun than fiddling with camber angles too!

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  • 1 year later...
On 25. September 2014 at 08:31, The Pits said:

30/32 works well but if the track temp keeps getting hotter and you're driving harder the optimum target hot pressure for racing is 2 bar for the trofeo tyre. Might be different for the corsa.

 

Naturally the resulting cold temps will be all over the place as the outer tyres will do more work on the track. Going back to 32/38 before road use is a really good idea.

Does anybody know the right hot tire pressures for the corsa for track use? Also 2 bar as for the Trofeo?

 

I am preping for my firsr track day with the Exige but couldnt find it anywhere...

 

thanks

 

 

Norbert

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Sorry no idea about Corsa.

I would warm them up and let some air out if the keep the pressures rise above 32/38psi. The tyre will still work well at the recommended road pressures so I'd try the car out like that first.

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