Zenos Cars Factory Tour

December 5th, 2016

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.

GGLC Tour

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.

2016 Golden Gate Lotus Club Holiday Dinner

December 2nd, 2016

Sign up and reserve your place at the gala GGLC Holiday Celebration at the Flames Eatery & Bar in San Jose. Don’t miss out on the wine, food, door prizes and the annual GGLC White Elephant Gift Exchange.

The Flames Eatery & Bar in downtown San Jose represents the present evolution of the classic American diner experience. Flames features an eclectic mix of Greek, Italian and American specialties with generous, high-quality portions. Family owned and operated, with the new generation preserving the old Family traditions.

Cocktails will start at 6:00 with a no-host bar and appetizers. Dinner will follow at 7:00.

Dinner will follow beginning with a Mista salad and then your selection of the Entree and dessert.

Following dinner we’ll introduce the 2017 President and officers and present awards to the GGLC’s 2016 Autocross champions. Plus there will be door prizes and of course the infamous GGLC Gift Exchange.

GGLC Gift Exchange
Everyone attending is encouraged to participate in the Annual GGLC White Elephant Gift Exchange. To participate bring a wrapped, unwanted “gift” item from your garage. Please make sure your gift is EPA-friendly, non-toxic and clean, (the “Barry Spencer” Rule). You’ll have the opportunity to exchange it for another “gift”.

Click here to buy your tickets, the deadline is noon on Dec 5th, 2016!

PARKING: Flames will validate parking at the 4th Street Garage (enter from S. 4th or E. San Fernando St)

Lotus Exige Sport 380: Supercar Killer

November 25th, 2016

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High powered, highly evolved, and ferociously fast, the Lotus Exige Sport 380 is the most aggressive iteration yet for the Exige model line up.

Taking the fight straight to six-figure supercars, this new, top-of-the-range model carries over the lessons learnt in the development of the acclaimed Exige Sport 350, launched last year, but with significant revisions lowering weight, boosting power and enhancing aerodynamics.

Rather than relying excessively on electronics, or allow sterile interfaces to dull the experience, the extreme Exige Sport 380 offers a pure, undiluted drive that has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.

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Unrivalled in its class: faster, sharper, and more direct than adversaries, the Exige Sport 380 is definitely not for the timid. With a dry weight of just 1,066 kg with lightweight options, and boasting a potent power-to-weight ratio of 352 hp per tonne, the new, pure-bred Lotus has been conceived to out perform and out manoeuvre so called supercars. The new Exige is blisteringly fast off the line, dispatching 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 178 mph.

From the intricately engineered exposed-gear-change linkage, to the swathes of carbon-fibre components and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres as standard, every inch of the Exige has been carefully cultivated. Firmly defined as a Lotus for the enthusiast, the car can be seen as an expression of intense engineering – challenging accomplished drivers to extract the car’s true potential.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, commented: “We’ve saved something special for our last new car of 2016. We have built upon the foundations of the excellent Exige Sport 350 and developed a perfectly proportioned, intuitive and attainable supercar for real roads. The cut in weight is nothing short of drastic and, combined with the hike in power and its enhanced agility, we’ve created something exceptional – far greater than the sum of its parts. The Exige Sport 380 is so good, that it is no longer the best in class, it’s now in a class of its own.”

Unashamedly analogue and unfiltered

Lotus’ approach to developing the perfect sports car has allowed the Exige Sport 380 to lay claim to the title of the best sports car under £100,000. A true supercar car for the road, the Exige focuses on the three key attributes that have made the company a firm favourite with driving enthusiasts: reduced weight, higher performance and honed aerodynamics.

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Raised on the roads around Hethel, and exercised on the company’s famous test track, the new car can trace its lineage back to the very first Exige, launched in 2000. Now the headline car of the range, sitting above the Sport 350 model, it is instilled with Lotus’ DNA and packed with a potent 375 hp engine into Lotus’ acclaimed two-seater.

Weight less

While employing some of the high-performance components premiered on the Exige Sport 350, Lotus returned to the Lightweight Laboratory in order to cut kilos from the kerb weight. Infused with carbon fibre from front to back, the Exige Sport 380 features hand-made, high-gloss visible weave components as standard to deliver a weight saving when compared to the Exige Sport 350. This includes the front splitter, revised front access panel, new rear wing and rear diffuser surround, which together save 2.7 kg. A lightweight, transparent polycarbonate rear window saves 0.9 kg over the glass equivalent in the Exige Sport 350. In addition, the carbon race seats (-6 kg), lithium- ion battery (-10.3 kg), ultra-lightweight forged wheels and grooved two-piece brake discs (-10 kg) combine to cut a massive 26.3 kg. A new design of rear transom panel now has two rear light clusters, rather than the four on the Exige Sport 350, with reversing and fog lights now mounted inboard, cutting weight by a further 0.3 kg.

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In line with its illustrious lineage, the Exige Sport 380 employs Lotus’ lightweight extruded and bonded aluminium structure, as the company continues to lead in the field of advanced automotive construction techniques. Lotus is working continuously to engineer out the excess mass from its cars, and the company’s chassis technology remains the benchmark.

Power play

The company’s powertrain division has left its mark on the car, with the uprated 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine generating 375 hp at 6,700 rpm and 410 Nm (302 lbft) of torque at 5,000 rpm. Refined from extensive testing and development, it’s a design that’s proved its mettle by powering some of Lotus’ latest supercars, including the track-focused 3-Eleven and the recently revealed Evora Sport 410.

The power boost comes from a revised supercharger pulley, which increases charge pressure, an uprated fuel pump, a recalibrated ECU and the introduction of a revised exhaust system – as used in the Evora 400 and Evora Sport 410. Allowing owners to enjoy the new Exige for longer between fuel stops, it also comes with an enlarged, 48-litre petrol tank.

Providing faster, cleaner changes, the Exige Sport 380’s six-speed manual gearbox uses Lotus’ acclaimed open-gate design. Eliminating lateral movement, by precisely aligning components, it features light-weight machined and cast aluminium parts. Aesthetically appealing, the open transmission mechanism also helps contribute to the car’s reduced weight. The manual gearbox has been further enhanced through the introduction of a new oil cooler, ensuring the gears operate at the optimal temperature no matter how hard they are performing.

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The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is also available with an optional six-speed automatic gearbox, where drivers can select gears sequentially via the forged aluminium paddles located behind the steering wheel, or rely on the gearbox’s fully automatic mode. The automatic gearbox option will be available from Spring 2017.

The Lotus Exige Sport 380 features Lotus’ Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) which provides enhanced ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings. Proportionally increasing throttle response, lowering traction slip thresholds and removing understeer recognition, it provides the driver with a finer level of control before the system intervenes. DPM also utilises an engine exhaust bypass valve at mid-to-high engine speeds, further reducing back pressure to boost throttle response and engine performance in both ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings.

Aero advantage

As with all Lotus cars, aerodynamic efficiency plays a key role in the Exige, helping it to drastically expand its performance envelope. Extensive CFD modelling work has allowed Lotus’ design team to fine tune specific areas, in order to deliver a substantial overall improvement. The revised front access panel modifies the air flow exiting the car’s horizontally mounted radiators, before it travels over the car, while the carbon front spoiler and rubber lip spoiler combined with the carbon barge boards reduce pressure under the vehicle.

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In addition, twin pairs of front canard wings, mounted forward of the front wheels, a carbon rear wing and air blades behind the rear wheels, all work to help raise downforce to a massive 140 kg at maximum speed – a 60% gain over the Exige Sport 350, which generates 88 kg at its maximum speed. This increase in downforce does not come at the penalty of drag which remains the same as the Exige Sport 350.

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Favouring mechanical solutions over electronic systems, including key parts such as unassisted steering, means that the Exige Sport 380 delivers the driver an intuitive experience. The extensive use of carbon fibre on the bodywork has lowered the centre of gravity, helping contribute to the Exige’s exemplary steering feel and precision handling characteristics.

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Making the most of its performance potential, the Exige Sport 380 is fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres as standard (265/35 ZR18 rear and 215/45 ZR17 front). Selected for their tenacity, and 10mm wider at the front that on the Exige Sport 350, the increased mechanical grip is complemented by the car’s ultra-lightweight forged alloy wheels, which are available in either black or silver. Either option is complemented by AP Racing forged, four-piston brake callipers and grooved performance two-piece brake discs.

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In addition to its already impressive credentials, it’s possible to sharpen the Exige further still. Opting for the full exhaust system in titanium improves the car’s overall balance, by removing 10 kg from beyond the rear axle. For customers who frequently go to the track, the optional Track Pack provides Nitron two-way adjustable dampers and Eibach adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.

The optional Carbon Exterior Pack contains a one-piece carbon roof panel and a distinctive carbon louvered tailgate. The carbon roof panel is 2 kg heavier than the standard soft-top but this weight increase is offset by the carbon louvered tailgate which saves 2 kg.

As befitting such a stand-out car, the Exige Sport 380 is sprayed and hand finished in one of ten individual colours. Providing some drama and drawing the eye to the beautiful composite carbon components, an optional exterior accent pack is also available in one of five key colours to deliver some finer detailing to the car’s undeniable presence.

The car’s kerb appeal is enhanced by revisions to the Exige’s design front and back. Distinctive blackened headlamp surrounds provide a more aggressive demeanour, whilst to visually accentuate the width of rear of the car, a new rear transom features two lamp clusters rather than four.

The hand finished detailing continues inside, with the carbon fibre sports seats trimmed with either Alcantara®, leather or tartan, with all featuring contrast stitching.

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The optional lightweight carbon fibre sill covers provide a motorsport theme when entering or exiting the Exige Sport 380 and, thanks to their lower profile and contoured finish, aid ingress and egress. The Interior Colour Pack provides contrasting surrounds to the transmission console, HVAC surround, carbon seat eyelets and electric window bezels in one of four colours. A new integrated entertainment system can also be specified, including iPod® connectivity and Bluetooth® functionality, along with air conditioning.

For owners wanting more, the new Exige Sport 380 can be personalised through the increasingly popular Lotus Exclusive programme. Combining traditional British craftsmanship with modern design, the service inspires customers to spend time tailoring the character of their Lotus with a comprehensive array of options.

The Lotus Exige Sport 380 is available as a roadster as standard and as a coupe as an option.

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

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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

Lightening strikes again: The Lotus Evora Sport 410

February 25th, 2016

In a move that should surprise no one, Lotus has raised the bar once again by lightening the Evora in order to develop the sensational Evora Sport 410.

Evora 410

Following on from the recently announced Elise Cup 250, and the Exige Sport 350, Lotus’ famous Lightweight Laboratory has been hard at work cutting the weight of the Evora 400 by a massive 70kg. With a host of high-performance carbon fibre components as standard, and sharing the 410 hp supercharged engine with the track-bred 3-Eleven, the Lotus Evora Sport 410 clocks 0-60 in 3.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 186mph.

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Group Lotus plc, commented, “We couldn’t help ourselves, and many may have guessed what we were planning following our recent announcements. We wanted to make the Evora even better: lighter, faster and sharper, but our team has exceeded our expectations. Lotus has distilled what makes the Evora so special into something that’s even more focused. The result is dynamically excellent and nothing short of superb.”

Evora 410 rear

This new, top-of-the-range Evora has been thoroughly re-evaluated, with every component assessed, optimised and reengineered as required. This covers every aspect of the car, including a drastically simplified carbon fibre tailgate (combining five separate elements into one), new lighter-weight door trim panels and the liberal addition of carbon fibre across the entire car.

The Sport 410 builds on the excellent work undertaken in the development of the Evora 400, itself a massive enhancement over the first generation of Evora. However, far from a stripped-out special, the Evora Sport 410 retains excellent road manners, being refined and composed during everyday driving.

The significant drop in mass, and a power boost, means the Evora Sport 410 is capable of lapping the company’s Hethel test track in 1 minute 28 seconds* – an impressive 3 seconds faster than the Evora 400. Reflecting what Lotus does best, it demonstrates the company’s principle of ‘adding lightness’.

The Lotus Evora Sport 410 is the result of Lotus’ philosophy of continuous improvement. With a lower centre of gravity, and a kerb weight slashed to just 1,325 kg, the car provides an impressive 309 hp/tonne.

In addition to boosting straight-line speed, the significant reduction in mass has allowed sharper, more agile and intuitive handling – with even greater accuracy and feel. Jean-Marc Gales added, “The Evora chassis was already the best in the business – the Evora Sport 410 takes it to a whole new level”.

Complementing this is a higher-output version of the supercharged, 3.5-litre 6-cylinder engine, developed through the Lotus 3-Eleven project which has beaten Nürburgring records. As a result, the car boasts 410 hp at 7000 rpm and 410 Nm of torque at 3500 rpm.

evora 410 hatch

The high-performance, carbon fibre components have played the single biggest role in the evolution of the Evora Sport 410. These include front splitter, roof panel, tailgate, and rear diffuser as well as race-derived sports seats and a revised front access panel. The one-piece carbon tailgate incorporates a louvered section, inspired by some of Lotus’ most-famous heritage models, and together with carbon rear quarter-light panels help provide the car with a sleeker, fastback-style trailing roofline. These changes have also improved the car’s aerodynamic downforce by 15% with no increase in drag.

evora 410 carbon splitter

The car’s reduced kerb weight has allowed the recalibration of the suspension, with improved geometry and completely revised damping, as well as a ride height 5mm lower than the Evora 400. As a result, handling is sharper, along with better body and roll control, yet ride comfort and composure is retained. Ultra light-weight, 10-spoke forged aluminium wheels, and optional Michelin Cup 2 tyres, complete the car’s dynamic revisions.

evora 410 wheels

Appealing to purists, the Evora Sport 410’s manual gearbox features a low inertia flywheel, to help ensure swift changes, while a Torsen-type limited slip differential (LSD) gives better traction, and faster exit speeds when cornering. Available as an option, the automatic transmission offers gear selection via lightweight aluminium paddles mounted to the steering wheel.

The new Evora Sport 410 also features Lotus’ Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) which, selected via a dashboard switch, provides ‘Sport’ and ‘Race’ settings. Proportionally increasing throttle response, lowering traction slip thresholds and removing understeer recognition, it allows enhanced control before the system intervenes.

As standard, the Evora Sport 410 comes with carbon fibre sports seats trimmed with Alcantara®, along with the steering wheel and centre console. An integrated touch-screen entertainment system can also be specified, including iPod® connectivity and Bluetooth® functionality.

evora 410 interior

The rest of the Sport 410’s cabin has received attention as part of its development. Weight saving measures includes attractive one-piece door trim panels finished in Alcantara®, with contrast stitching, the deletion of door arm rests and stowage pockets, the relocation of tailgate and fuel filler release buttons and the removal of speakers – if an entertainment system is not specified.

As well as the standard paint selection, the new Evora can also be personalised through the recently launched Lotus Exclusive programme. Combining traditional British craftsmanship with modern design, the service inspires customers to spend time tailoring the character of their Lotus with a comprehensive array of options.

The Lotus Evora Sport 410 will be limited to a global production run of one-hundred and fifty vehicles per year and will be available in all major markets from June 2016.

A specific North American version of the Evora Sport 410 will be announced later in 2016.

Those wishing to register their interest in the new Lotus Evora Sport 410 should visit: www.lotuscars.com/lotus-evora-range