2017 British Racing Group West Coast Lotus Meet Registration is now open

March 20th, 2017

The 2017 British Racing Group West Coast Lotus Meet registration is now open!

We are dedicating our amazing 4 days of Lotusing to the memory of Roger Becker.

The 2017 British Racing Group WCLM will be headquartered at boutique Hotel Corque in quaint Solvang, California. Discounted rates have been negotiated for WCLM attendees. Each room includes private parking and nearby trailer parking is available as well.

For the latest news and updates about the 2017 British Racing Group West Coast Lotus Meet please visit our website at http://www.westcoastlotusmeet.com or our facepook page.

Registration
Registration 2017 Lotus Garage West Coast Lotus Meet is now open! Register today and take advantage of the discounted Early Bird fees.

Registration is per person and gives access to all WCLM events except the optional track day. This includes the opening reception, lunches, group drives, autocross, funkana, main banquet, wine tasting reception, museum fees, etc… The WCLM registration fee does not include hotel. All attendees are responsible for booking their own accommodations. The Hotel Corque, Solvang, California is the official headquarters for the 2017 WCLM and we have negotiated attractive room rates for attendees.

Click here to register via MotorsportReg

Discounted Registration fee for Lotus club members – GGLC, LCOSC, CLNW, ELCC, SNLCC, LOCO, LOOP, LCCBC, Lotus Ltd, etc. Register by June 21 for the Early-Bird discount.

BRG-WCLM Sponsors
The 2017 BRG-WCLM would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. These include:

The lightest Elise ever – the new Lotus Elise Sprint

March 19th, 2017

Evolved, energised and even lighter, a significant update for the legendary Lotus Elise has been unveiled ahead of its arrival in showrooms this spring.

Pride of place in the latest Elise line-up is the new Sprint edition, capturing the spirit of Lotus by offering the latest in efficient engineering to deliver a car that sets the standard at under 800 kg. Featuring a host of weight-saving items as standard, as well as the Elise’s distinctive new styling, the new Lotus remains true to the company’s founding principles. Benefitting the range as a whole, all new Elise editions receive the car’s new look and new interior options, and every single one of the Sprint’s lightweight components can be specified on the standard Elise Sport and the Elise Sport 220 variants.

In the biggest weight cut to the car since the introduction of the first-generation Elise, Lotus has returned to its roots by employing the same intense engineering strategy as used on its most recent models. The Sprint edition of the Lotus Elise has removed 41 kg from the previous model, to reach a benchmark dry weight of just 798 kg.

Focusing on driver involvement, to provide an immersive experience, the new Elise reaffirms the company’s leading position in automotive engineering. A benchmark in purity and balance, the Elise is a favourite amongst drivers and enthusiasts, and to date nearly 33,000 examples have been hand built at Lotus’ famous Hethel factory. Distilled from the very essence of the company’s heritage, the Elise carries Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s vision of efficient engineering into the future and arrives as the company continues its return to form with its strongest ever line-up of vehicles.

Integrating a new front and rear aesthetic with Lotus’ established design language, this latest Elise also receives a wide range of cabin enhancements – including the lightweight open-gate gear select mechanism first introduced on the Lotus Exige Sport 350. The Sprint is available in both the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated and 1.8-litre supercharged versions. Delivering an exciting mid-point in the range, it broadens the car’s appeal by including lightweight and carbon components as standard.

Speaking of the new car Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus plc. said, “Once again, the Elise continues to redefine what is possible in terms of adding lightness to a sports car. Whilst other manufacturers try to keep pace with Lotus’ weight reduction achievements, we’ve raised the bar beyond their reach. An agile, lightweight sports car does not weigh just over a tonne. It should weigh substantially less and, it is a fantastic achievement from Lotus in ensuring that the fully type approved new Elise now dips below the 800 kg barrier.”

Jean-Marc Gales continued, “Enhanced by less weight, the Elise now provides even more driving purity, greater agility and higher all-round performance. As we say at Hethel: less weight equals more Lotus.”

The Sprint and the spirit of Lotus

Ensuring that this latest Elise remains true to the company’s DNA, the return for the Sprint badge – as used on historic models including the Elan – is designed to provide a highly attractive super-lightweight option sitting above the respective Elise Sport models, and below the top of the range Elise Cup 250.

The Sprint’s standard lightweight components include a Lithium-Ion battery, saving 9 kg, Lotus’ beautifully detailed carbon race seats, 6 kg, new lightweight forged alloy wheels, 5 kg, while the carbon access panel, roll hoop cover and engine cover, and polycarbonate rear screen save 6 kg. Collectively they cut an impressive 26 kg, compared to the previous Sport and Sport 220 models, and together with the improvements made to the whole Elise range bring the weight of the new Elise Sprint down to just 798 kg (dry). This includes new, optional two-piece brake discs, saving 4 kg, which will be available from May this year and optional carbon sill covers (-0.8 kg). This reduction in weight translates into quicker acceleration (with 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and 4.1 seconds for the Elise Sprint and Elise Sprint 220 respectively), harder cornering and a power to weight ratio of up to 168 hp / tonne (Elise Sprint) and 257 hp / tonne (Elise Sprint 220).

Unlike some manufacturers, Lotus understands the importance of engine note, and Hethel’s acoustic engineers have spent time altering the aural appeal of the more powerful Elise Sport 220 and Elise Sprint 220 models. Providing the perfect soundtrack at any speed, the new exhaust makes the 1.8-litre supercharged Elise the best-sounding 4-cylinder car on the market.

External design touches for the Sprint range include a matt black transom panel, black wheels which come with custom contrasting metal spun rims, distinctive yet subtle side stripes on the bodywork and unique side and rear badging.

Other highlights comprise bodywork keyed colour inserts for the sports seats, transmission console and HVAC surround, along with Sprint badge stitching. The Sprint’s detailing continues inside with an array of optional Alcantara® trim panels on the doors, sills, seats and vents surrounds, all with contrasting stitching.

Less mass means more Lotus

As well as a new Elise Sprint edition, the whole of the new Elise line-up benefits from a range of improvements, which includes a 10 kg mass reduction thanks to a number of new components. Changes to the body including a redesigned lightweight front clam panel, with wider radiator apertures and mesh pattern grille provide a more aggressive aspect and 8.7 kg less weight. The new design of rear transom panel now has two rear light clusters, rather than four, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard so reducing weight by 0.3 kg and visually enhancing the rear design.

Modifications front and back are more than skin deep and have allowed the careful balancing of aerodynamic downforce across the whole car. Rubber elements mounted on the flat underside and ahead of the front wheel, together with an additional diffuser vane at the rear, help modify airflow under the car reducing drag and increasing stability.

In addition to injecting some visual drama into the new Elise’s cabin, Lotus’ beautifully detailed open-gate manual gearbox also provides a much more positive and direct operation – giving more precise and quicker shifting. Both technically and aesthetically appealing, thanks to the exposed open-gate design, it further reduces weight with a net saving of 1 kg. An evolution of the design first used on the Exige Sport 350, but specifically optimised for the Elise, it perfectly matches the Lotus’ personality.

The cabin also benefits from a new centre console, as seen on the Exige and optional carbon sill covers which reduce weight by 0.8 kg and increase the door aperture by up to 10 mm, aiding ingress and egress. The Elise’s instrument panel has also received attention, with new graphics making it easier to read and a new in-car entertainment system, including iPod® connectivity and Bluetooth® functionality, can also be selected when ordering.

Options for the new car include Alcantara® trimmed steering wheel, vent-surrounds and sills. Further enhancement can be specified, including a new paintwork colour: “Electric Light Blue” joining the Lotus core colour range.

The new Elise Sport and Sprint are available in two engine options: the 1.6-litre or the supercharged 1.8-litre. Offering 134 hp / 160 Nm of torque and 217 hp / 250 Nm of torque respectively, they have been specifically tuned to suit the Elise and both help to deliver a benchmark power-to-weight ratio and class leading efficiency. Being so lightweight, emissions are extremely low with 149 g / km CO2 and 173 g / km CO2 for the 1.6 engine and 1.8 engines respectively.

Stopping power is provided by AP Racing twin-piston front calipers and Brembo single-piston rear-calipers – optional lightweight two-piece brake discs are also available. All cars benefit from user selectable ESP driving modes – Drive / Sport / Off.

Retaining the elements that have always kept the Elise ahead of rivals, the car is built around an extruded and bonded aluminium chassis which is both tremendously strong and torsionally stiff – weighing just 68 kg.

The new Elise also carries over the same suspension setup as before, with fully independent double wishbone suspension and a front anti-roll bar, coupled with Bilstein high-performance gas dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs front and rear. Being lighter than the preceding model, the effective spring rate is marginally increased, retaining the compliant ride for which all Lotus cars are legendary.

Designed to continue the legacy of the Elise as Lotus’ most popular model ever, the new range car can be ordered today with deliveries starting from April 2017.

Lotus Exclusive

Every new Lotus Elise customer can personalise their vehicle through the Lotus Exclusive program. Developed by the Lotus Design team, it combines traditional British craftsmanship with the best of modern design. Conceived to inspire customers, allowing them to tailor vehicles to their personal taste, it offers a comprehensive array of options and provides an alluring alternative to an off-the-peg sports car.

To find out more about Lotus Elise range visit: http://www.lotuscars.com/about-elise

Registration for Thunderhill 5-mile event (3 May 17) is now open

March 12th, 2017

Come join the Golden Gate Lotus Club for this open track event at Thunderhill Raceway Park on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. All types of cars are welcome at our events. We typically have about 20 Lotus cars and the remainder is an array of different brands.

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Price is $200 for members and $220 for non-members. You can become a GGLC member for $25 when you register and take the member discount immediately. Register by April 21 and check the box to get the early bird discount of $20.

This event will be divided into 2 different groups on track and will switch every 30 minutes. Open Passing Group for experienced drivers with 15+ track days/racing experience or equivalent and Restricted Passing Group for drivers with 0-14 track days experience. Each group will get seven 30 minute sessions. Sign-up for whichever group is appropriate for your experience level. If you sign up for a particular group and decide at the track that you are not comfortable, then ask a GGLC official to switch groups. We can usually accommodate this.

Open wheeled cars will be allowed only in the Open Passing Group.

We have a limited number of openings for Beginner drivers (zero days experience) who will receive 1-on-1 coaching from an experienced driver. Beginner drivers will run in the Restricted Passing Group.

At this event we will run the 5-mile, 27 turn track in the standard counter clockwise direction.

Staying ahead of the 911

This is a May event. The weather should be perfect for a track day so it is suggested that you enter early to ensure a spot.

We will run the event run rain or shine. Cancellations before 4/23/2017 will receive a credit for a future track day which will be good for one year from the cancellation date. Cancellations after 4/23/2017 will receive a credit ONLY if the event sells out.

We will not conduct a tech inspection on your car. You are solely responsible for the safety of your car.

Open top cars MUST have a roll bar that attaches at four locations on the body/chassis. Decorative, or “Style Bars” are not allowed. Factory installed roll-over protection including pop-up bars are allowed. Drivers of open top cars must wear eye protection.

Passengers are allowed but must be at least 18 years old.

All cars must have numbers on both sides for Identification. Pick any number. Digits must be 6” tall minimum.

Click here to register using MotorsportReg.

Zenos Factory Tour

February 5th, 2017

During our our trip to the UK as part of the 2016 GGLC UK Lotus Trip, we were able to get a tour of the Zenos factory in Wymondham. If you havent heard of it before, Zenos Cars was founded in 2012 by Ansar Ali and MarkEdwards who had both spent time at Lotus and Caterham. I was lucky enough to attend the US unveiling of the Zenos E10S and was very impressed with what I saw. It struck me as an equivalent of the Lotus 211 and had significantly better fit and finish than the average Caterham I have seen in the US. Zenos hates the term “kit car” and stresses that they build the whole car but the reality is that to sell in the US they have to follow the Caterham model and sell them as kits which essentially work with only one specific engine. There are a bunch of reviews on the web for folks who want more details of the cars themselv es but I wanted to talk about the factory tour itself.

We were lucky to have their Operations Director Matt Windel give us the tour and they were extremely open to having the 15 of use traipsing through the shop. There were a couple of things they asked us not to photographs but other than that we had full access.

Assembly station #1
We start off at Station 1 where they essentially build the base chassis by mating the various subframes. As you can see below, the chassis has an extruded central spine that has a rear subframe bolted and bonded to it. The spine leads to great rigidity in the chassis and is also used to carry both wiring and coolant similar to the side sills of the Elise.
Central Spine Extrusion

CF Floor pan held in place by a jig for curing
This is also the step where a jig is used to attach the carbon fiber floor pan which is the first part of the carbon “tub”. They use an innovative process to create panels from recycled carbon fiber and drinking straws to form a honeycomb like structure which had 90% the strength of virgin CF at around 10% the cost. This is what allows them to sell essentially a carbon tubbed car for ~$50,000.

Assembly Station #2
At Station 2 the cars receive the rest of their carbon tub along with the front suspension. The tub integrates side impact tubing which is hidden inside the body and leads to the clean looks of the car. I also like the very Lotus-like design where a single front bracket holds the radiator, lights and front bodywork. They have tried to minimize the part count in general which results in the same part often performing multiple functions. I also like that the front suspension is designed to be sacrificial and a simple shunt will not write-off the entire chassis.

Assembly Station #3 - Engine
Station 3 is all about engine installation. The Zenos uses variants of the Ford Ecoboost engines that range from 200 bhp all the way to 350bhp in the range topper. This guarantees that the engine parts will be very easy to find worldwide though they do use their own locked ECU which is less than ideal for the US market since it will make it harder to use the full range of Ecoboost aftermarket products.

Assembly station #4 - body and finishing
At Station 4 it really starts looking like a real car with the rest of the body going in as well as the installation of the adjustable inboard front shocks.
Inboard front suspension

100th Zenos
The car then goes through the alignment process and a final quality test before being readied for deliver. This beautiful custom painted E10R is the 100th Zenos produced and was to be delivered to the lucky owner the next day.

My thanks to the Zenos crew for talking the time to walk us through the factory floor and answer all our questions. The Zenos is a very impressive car and the closest you will come to a street legal 211 in the US. If this has piqued your interest you should head over to the Zenos Cars North America website and see what cars they have available.

Lotus lets loose two giant slayers

June 24th, 2016

Lotus 3-Eleven

Ready to humble some of the fastest cars that money can buy, two of the greatest, most extreme Lotus models ever produced, the Lotus 3-Eleven, finished in matt and gloss Black colour scheme and the Lotus Elise Cup 250 in Red, have driven off the production line for the first time at the famous Hethel factory.

The two, hard-hitting lightweights represent the latest generation of Lotus sports cars, combining high-output engines with the company’s dedication to cutting mass, and so boosting performance through intelligent engineering. Developed through the company’s Lightweight Laboratory philosophy, every component in each as been assessed, optimised and re-engineered as required.

Surrounded by some of the production and engineering teams responsible for the two cars, Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, commented: “The lucky owners of these will be the first to find out just how special the latest Lotus cars really are. We’ve raised the bar yet again, to produce two vehicles which the competition cannot hope to match. From the outright firepower of the 3-Eleven, to the sublime handling of the Elise Cup 250, these cars, better than any other, encapsulate our ‘light is right’ mantra.”

3-Eleven

Showing clear intent for the Lotus high-performance sports cars of the future, the 3-Eleven is the company’s quickest and most expensive series production car ever.

The 3-Eleven offers a giant-slaying power-to-weight ratio, thanks to a revised V6 supercharged engine developing 460 hp, to provide in excess of 500 hp per tonne. It is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds before reaching a maximum speed of 180 mph (290 km/h).

Designed to deliver a pure, undiluted driving experience, the Lotus 3-Eleven utilises an all-new lightweight carbon composite body, and a bespoke chassis evolved from Lotus’ ground-breaking work with extruded and bonded aluminium sections.

As part of its development the Lotus 3-Eleven spent time at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, where it was one of the fastest road going cars to ever tackle the track, capable of setting a sub-7 minute lap time.

One year on from its global unveiling, this matt and gloss Black 3-Eleven will be on display at this years’ Goodwood Festival of Speed with Bell & Colvill, the most successful and longest serving Lotus dealer in the world. A second giant killing Lotus 3-Eleven will be taking part in the Michelin Supercar run on all three days of the Festival.

Elise Cup 250

With the Lotus Elise recently crowned as Readers’ Champion during the Autocar Awards, this latest version of the legendary car is the faster ever – with a 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 154 mph (248 km/h).

Powered by a new higher-output version of the supercharged, 1.8-litre 4-cylinder engine, the Elise Cup 250 boasts 243 hp. However, in order to make the most of its power, it’s shed 21kg compared to its predecessor, to weight just 931 kg. Customers wanting to cut weight still further, and so boost performance, can select the optional Carbon Aero Pack to reduce the vehicle’s mass to 921 kg.

The hand-built sports car has long been regarded as a benchmark within the industry, providing a level of precision and driver involvement that rivals cannot match. Capable of lapping the company’s test track in 1 minute 34 seconds, the changes and engineering adaptions to the Elise Cup 250 have taken an impressive four seconds off the previous Elise Cup 220’s best time.

The arrival the new cars coincides with the 50th celebrations for the founding of the famous factory in Hethel, Norfolk, when, in 1966, founder Colin Chapman moved Lotus to the purpose-built facility. Lotus is marking this milestone in the company’s history with special edition cars and events throughout the year.

Every new Lotus 3-Eleven and Elise customer can personalise their vehicle through the Lotus Exclusive programme. Developed by the Lotus Design team, it combines traditional British craftsmanship with the best of modern design. Conceived to inspire customers, allowing them to tailor vehicles to their personal taste, it offers a comprehensive array of options and provides an alluring alternative to an off-the-peg sports car.

GGLC Autox Sat July 9th is open for registration

June 24th, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2016 Golden Gate Lotus Club Autocross season!

The 4th event of the season is now open for registration for GGLC members on MotorsportsReg.

Registration is limited to club members for the first week. Non-members will be able to register next week. The entry fee is $65 for GGLC members and $75 for non-members. First time autox’ers (first time at a GGLC event) are eligible for a $10 discount, so invite your friends along too.

This season we have 8 classes that you can participate in. Please read over the details on the club autocross page. The Lotus Street, R-Tire and Race categories will be changed this season and replaced three new classes, Low, Mid and High Performance. The details of the change will be announced later, but for now please register using the existing classes.

For Lotus Elise/Exige/Evora drivers, please choose your class that you want to participate in and also use the classification tool to calculate your index points. For non-Lotus cars, please use the appropriate SCCA class.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this year’s events or any other autox topic.

You can like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GoldenGateLotusClub and check out our event videos (you might see yourself) at http://www.youtube.com/goldengatelotusclub

Registration Now Open for Lotus Laguna Seca Track Days July 18th & Nov 7th

June 9th, 2016

Crossing the Finish

Registration is now open for the Golden Gate Lotus Club’s remaining two track days of 2016 – July 18th and November 7th. Both events will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. We will be running (3) run groups with approximately 20-minute sessions each. Your options will be Advanced Group, Intermediate Group, and Novice Group. There are a very limited number of Beginner slots available. Beginners will run in the Novice Group and will be required to have a coach assigned to them to ride in the passenger seat in order to enter the track. If we can find more coaches, we will send out an announcement for additional beginner slots.

Pricing for each event is as follows:

July 18th: $230 for members and $250 for non-members.
November 7th: $200 for members and $220 for non-members.

You can become a Lotus club member for an annual cost of $25. This entitles you to a $20 discount on all track days for one year.

Please go to MotorsportReg to sign up.

Our Laguna Seca events fill up fast so be sure to sign-up early to ensure you get a spot. Other clubs run four run groups with fewer sessions. We will be running (3) run groups, giving you a total of (7) 20-minute sessions.

Due to the restrictions imposed by Laguna Seca on the number of cars allowed on the track at one time, there will be no sharing run groups as we normally do at other venues. Also, be aware that there will be absolutely no refunds. If you cancel up to two weeks prior to the specific event and we can fill your spot, we will give you a rain check for a future event. Only sign up if you know you can attend. We will run this event rain or shine.

Also, THESE WILL BE 90dB EVENTS! DO NOT RELY ON LIFTING AT THE SOUND CHECK – if your exhaust or intake is loud, take measures to reduce your levels before the event.

Please read your confirmation email as it has been expanded to include the general schedule.

See you at the track,

John & Scott

15 years apart

GGLC Autox Sun May 15 is open for registration

April 21st, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2016 Golden Gate Lotus Club Autocross season.

The 2nd event of the season is now open for registration for GGLC members at MotorsportReg.

Registration is limited to club members for the first week. Non-members will be able to register next week. The entry fee is $65 for GGLC members and $75 for non-members. First time autox’ers (first time at a GGLC event) are eligible for a $10 discount, so invite your friends along too.

This season we have 8 classes that you can participate in. Please read over the details on the club autocross page.

For Lotus Elise/Exige/Evora drivers, please use the classification tool to calculate the class that you should participate in and also your index points. For non-Lotus cars, please use the appropriate SCCA class.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about this year’s events or any other autox topic.

You can like us on Facebook and check out our event videos on Youtube (you might see yourself)

Colm

Lotus Evora 400 first drive

April 5th, 2016

IMG_20160401_151831

Last week Tom Sutton from Boardwalk Lotus invited the GGLC to swing by and take a look at the new Evora 400 which will be begining US deliveries later this summer. This particular car was one of two euro-spec demo cars that have been going all over the US to attend the auto show circuit and had 21000 kms on it. I got the chance to drive it for a few miles and wanted to write up my thoughts on the car. These are all my personal opinions and will be coloured by my experiences from owning an Elise for 10 years and an Evora S IPS for ~8 months.

Exterior
IMG_20160401_144019
When the Evora 400 was first announced I have to say that I was not a big fan of the looks. The sharp lines on the new front and rear looked a little “boy racer” to me and pushed me into getting an Evora S instead of waiting for the 400. However seeing the car in the flesh I have to say that the new front end looks much better in person and works really well in this carbon grey colour. The black line above the splitter kind of merges into the body and removes the thing I found most annoying about the front. The plastic grill replacing the mesh looks quite good as well.

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The rear also looks much better in person and I’d have to say that the Evora 400 looks very modern and contemporary.

Ingress/Egress
IMG_20160401_145816
This is perhaps the single greatest improvement of the 400 over the first gen Evora. The side sills are a lot lower and narrower than those of the Evora S (below) which means it is as easy to get in and out of as a regular sports car – no lotus position needed. Additionally the speaker enclosure in the door has been made smaller and thinner which means your feet don’t hit the door every time you get out (even with size 14 shoes). This has been my biggest annoyance with the Evora as a daily driver as you have be even more careful with your feet getting out that you have to in the Elise.
IMG_20160405_210201

Interior
The first thing you notice about the interior is the extra legroom in the drivers seat. The narrow sill appears to have continued towards the wheel well to give your left leg more room. The manual cars now finally have a dead pedal where you can rest your foot and if feels like there is more footroom in general which came in handy for my size 14 feet. That said my Evora S is an IPS so its hard for me to compare against the manual 400. It also felt like my right knee had some more room though the console didnt appear to be much narrower.

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The next thing you notice is the easy access and visibility of all the switchgear. You no longer have to cock your head and look behind the steering to squint at the controls. Plus they are now black with white lettering which makes them significantly easier to read than the old chrome buttons. The digital parts of the dash are now white on black and people who have been driving the car for extended periods tell me that they are easier to read that the red displays on gen 1. The steering wheel material has changed and feels more “rubbery” than my S – this is one change I would love to make to my car if possible. The side mirror controls have been moved to the dash for easy access while the trunk and fuel buttons have been moved to the door. Extra points for the trunk button no longer requiring the impossible combination of key in ignition, car in park, ebrake on, full moon night, fifth wednesday of the month, etc… to work 🙂

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The other thing I really liked was the HVAC controls are easier to turn and have many more detents instead of the current half dozen or so. The stereo is also different but I did not get a chance to play around with it. The glove box is now manual instead of electric which aligns with simplify and add lightness.

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The seats have switched from Recaro to Sparco and now have side airbag included. The stitching is a little different but they are just as comfortable as the original car. They now have a little leather pull to flip the seats forward which is much easier to reach and IMHO looks a lot cooler. The rear seats are as vestigial as ever.
IMG_20160401_151746

Driving impressions
I only got to drive the car for a few miles in traffic but the ride and handling felt the same as the S. It felt fast but with the lmited opportunities to accelerate it did not feel that much faster than my S. The thing I really liked about the drive was the exhaust which is sportier (louder with better tone) and has a button that controls the noise level independent of the ECU mode. This means you can drive the car in sport mode with the quiet exhaust or be in regular mode with the loud exhaust – the S ties the louder exhaust to the sport mode only which can get a little annoying in city driving. The shifter is also really smooth and felt a better than the other Evoras I have driven and miles ahead of the Elise.

The other thing I liked is that the Evora 400 is better built than the Elise and does not have all the rattles and squeaks you have come to expect from a Lotus. The demo car had over 13k miles on it and felt like a quality item just like my S does after 2 years and ~15k miles.

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Final Thoughts
My biggest takeaway about the Evora 400 is that it is a much more useable car than the S. It retains the excellent driving dynamics of the original car and adds a nice boost in power while making it easier to live with on a day to day basis. People considering a Porsche 911 as a daily driver should really have a look at the Evora 400 – it is now a competitor in terms of usability as well as performance. For me personally while it is a lot more car I can’t justify the premium over my existing S. That said the upcoming 400 convertible might make me change my mind 😉

Lotus Evora 400 @ Boardwalk Lotus

Lotus Elise Suspension comparo: Base Vs Nitron 46mm SA Vs Penske SA

April 3rd, 2016

One of the great things about being a car guy in CA is that there is a large number of fellow addicts around. This means that if you ever want to put some high dollar upgrades on a car you can usually find someone with a similar setup and get some first hand info about it. The latest to take advantage of this was Vincent from the GGLC who has been thinking of getting a set of single adjustable coilovers for his Elise and was having a tough time deciding between the Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way and the BWR Penske Single Adjustable. Since the shocks run $2500+ he sent out some feelers on the forums and was able to get 3 cars together to try some back to back to back driving on some interesting roads for a highly subjective and completely unscientific comparison.

IMG_20160403_124643

Mag Blue (Vincent)
2005 Elise
Base suspension
LSS wheels
R888 tires

Black (Scott)
2008 Exige S 240
Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way (450/600 “soft” springs)
Exige Wheels
R888 tires
A-arms for extra camber

Titanium (Rahul)
2006 Elise
BWR Penske SA (500/700 “street/track” springs)
Rota wheels (15/16)
RA1 tires wider than stock (205/50R15 245/45R16)
Aligned, lowered and corner balanced to BWR spec

Route
The road we used for the test was CA-35 from CA-92 upto Alices Restaurant which is an extremely bumpy road with lots of cracks and undulations. It is however quite a twisty road so is very popular with sports cars, bikers and cyclists. We also did drive La Honda road from Alices down to CA-1 but that section of road is so smooth that we could barely tell the difference and ended up using the original stretch again.

This was far from a scientific test and is basically about subjective feel of the various suspensions on a fairly bumpy road. We did not have any specific test criteria going into this and just wanted to drive all 3 cars. I am just going to describe my feedback from all 3 in the order I drove them:

Nitron 46mm Race Pro 1-Way (450/600)
The first car I drove was Scotts Exige S240 on the Nitrons. The car was set to 15 FFH front and rear which is a little softer than the recommended Nitron settings. The two things I noticed were that the steering was a lot lighter (extra camber A-arms) and that ride did feel pretty harsh on the on the bumpy sections. I had plenty of confidence in the car but I was feeling a lot of bumps and vibration through both the seat and the wheel. That said it certainly was not undrivable – just harsher than I would want on an everyday drive.

Lotus Base Suspension
I thought the Nitrons were harsh but when I drove the base car over the same section of road I realised just how much worse the base car is. It was crashing and skipping over the bumps and got lots of unpleasant feedback through the wheel. I should add that this is in relation to the Nitron/Penskes only – the base suspension Elise is still an incredibly capable car and I drove mine for 90k miles on that suspension including dozens of trips down CA-35. Driving the base car is still a great experience and only felt bad because it was sandwiched between two more capable (and more expensive) setups.

BWR Penske Single Adjustable
After driving the other cars I took my car for a spin down the same road just to see how it handled those bumps. While I have ~800 miles on these shocks most of them were at COTA and I had not driven a truly bumpy road on them before. The car started the day in my “highway” settings of FS/FS-5 which are significantly softer than BWR suggested settings for the street. These settings disconnect you from road harshness and expansion joints but can hit the stops on big bumps which is no fun. After Vincent drive in my car he said it felt too soft so I moved it up to FS+10/FS+25 for Scott before following him on the second run. I did notice that the rear appeared to be “bouncing” a lot over the bumps which is something he reported as well at the next stop. I started out the first couple of miles on the same settings and quickly realised that while there was no high frequency harshness the car was just too bouncy and underdamped over the bumps. I pulled over and bumped it to FS+15/FS+35 which gave it a much more compliant ride with minimal harshness (less than the Nitrons).

Final results
In the end I have to say that the Nitrons and the Penskes are both a significant improvement over stock in terms of comfort and drivability. From this informal test I’d have to say that the Penskes can be adjusted to a softer setup (this might also be due to the extra tirewall from the 15/16 wheels) but some folks can find that to be too “Cadillac-y” and unconnected. The Nitrons were very good on the smoother sections but cannot be made as “soft” as the Penskes. That said we dont know if the softer adjustments cause the Penskes to lose a bit on track (not AutoX). I have driven 3 days at COTA with Penskes but that is possibly the smoothest track in the US plus without a back-to-back its hard to really judge.

In the end if you want a good aftermarket suspension you cant really go wrong with either of these options and both vendors will work further with you to come up with the right package for your specific needs. They are both a massive upgrade over stock in terms of drivability and I wish I had bought them years ago instead of waiting 90k miles to make the change.

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Update: Added a note that the ride comfort of the Penskes is affected by the extra tire wall from the smaller wheels.