It’s noisy. It’s hard to get in and out of. It’s British so it’s always broken. Everything squeaks and rattles. These are common misnomers. Wait, did I say misnomers? I meant common actualities.
I have officially owned this car for four weeks now, and I have absolutely loved every. single. second. I would like to start by discussing some common concerns I have heard about the Elise / Exige.
Lets start with my favorite; Everything rattles:
Yes. This is true. The car is made of bonded aluminum with plastic bits fastened to it, a stiff suspension, and anything that could dampen or muffle rubs or squeaks was never installed in the name of weight savings. If you have an aversion to squeaks or rattles this is not the car for you. Just know if you will likely spend hours chasing down a noise that is normal and not a concern because if you don’t, it will be the one time that noise is an expensive repair.
I have heard this a lot from people who either own, have owned, or have ridden in Elises or Exiges. I have even heard of people stock piling ear plugs in their cars. This is one I will tentatively bunk. Do you get a lot of wind noise with the top off and / or the windows down? Duh. Is there wind noise with the top on and the windows up? Yes, much like a Wrangler with a soft top, but not so unbearable that I would want ear plugs. Well maybe they meant exhaust note. For a stock exhaust it audible in the cabin, but at normal driving I can easily hear and talk to others, even at WOT its not bad. Now here is where I may have to concede my point. Once the exhaust is modified, depending on the noise levels of that exhaust, it may become very noisy.
It’s hard to get in and out of:
As a profesional contortionist I have to call this one as false. Just kidding. even for a professional contortionist its hard to get in and out of. In all honesty, its not that bad. It takes a few tries when your still new to the car, but once you find out what works best for you, its easy.
Okay. So enough of the misnomers. What do I really think about the Lotus?
It’s the best car I have ever owned or driven.
Over the course of 14 years of driving, this is the 21st vehicle I’ve owned, which have ranged from base line Accords, to Jeeps, and even a Ferrari. Combined various driving experiences, high end rentals, and one of the perks of my job having the ability to take all sorts of vehicles out for varying periods of time, I’ve likely driven just over 100 different vehicles over the years. So for me to put a 15 year old, 190hp, Toyota powered rattle trap at the top of my list says something.
Now thats a bold claim to make without reason.
I’ve been into building and tuning cars most if my life, as I’ve grown, so has my taste in cars. Each time I’ve built something I’ve gotten to the point where my goal is either not possible or cost prohibitive. I eventually progressed to the point of buying cars that were capable of the performance levels I desired. The problem with these types of cars is that they are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, and even more expensive to modify.
When Lotus designed this car, it was designed for one purpose. Driving.
Everything was designed and placed to make this car go faster. Much like what you get when you pay for a Porsche, Lamborghini, or Ferrari. Unlike the Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, the Lotus comes with an engine sourced from Toyota.
When I owned my Ferrari, I had to pay someone to do my oil changes. Why? Not because I am incapable. Not because I didn’t have the tools. But because if I didn’t, it would lower the value of the vehicle. I also had to have the oil changed at the recommended intervals being every 2 years, or 2,000 miles. Because I had pay a Ferrari certified technician to change my oil, and because they are parts made from Diamond dust (not really), an oil change cost $1,100 (give or take). This past weekend I did an oil change on the Lotus in my garage for $35 worth of oil and a $9.99 oil filter.
When you buy an exotic you buy into exotic costs. For your average exotic car a cat-back exhaust system runs anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000, and thats on average. Finding a good tuner or any form of aftermarket parts is often nearly impossible. Then you have to pay someone to install those parts, because if you install them yourself and you mess up, that a $40,000 engine replacement job.
The Lotus, is again, powered by Toyota, which means theres a ton of relatively inexpensive support out for the motor. And if you break something a replacement motor is all of... say $2,000.
If you’re still with me to this point, the only complaint I have is that this car is small. I mean its small enough that people forgot to see it. They change lanes in front of you. They pull into traffic directly in front of you, while looking at you. They go head on at you while slack jawed staring at you. And they almost rear end you when you’re stopped at red lights because brake lights and stopping distances are hard.