Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

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

Sunday, 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.

IMG_20160403_131546

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

Lotus Exos T125 revealed (GGLC World Exclusive)

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Lotus Exos T125 "Laguna Seca" "Pre-Reunion"

The GGLC was proud to attend the world premier of the new Lotus Exos Type 125 at the Monterey Motorsports Pre-Reunion today. The Lotus T125 is an F1 inspired track only car that uses Formula technology and a Cosworth V8 to provide stunning performance for the ultimate track day toy.

Lotus Exos T125

The first things that strikes you when you walk in is how much it looks like a current generation F1 car. The chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque with both the wide front wing and the narrow rear wings of the 2009-spec F1 cars. It also has the coke bottle shape, top exit exhaust and shark fin engine covers that have been in vogue. Other technical similarities include carbon ceramic brakes and a carbon fiber pushrod suspension.

Lotus Exos T125 "Laguna Seca" "Pre-Reunion"

The F1 technology continues inside the cockpit there the car uses paddle shifters to control the semi automatic gearbox as well as a multi function screen on the steering wheel that allows drivers to set the various parameters on the fly.

Cosworth GPV8 Exos Lotus T125 engine

The engine is a 3.5L Cosworth GPV8 that has been detuned to produce 650 bhp with a 10,300 rpm redline (10,800 push to pass). Weighing just 650kg the car will have a power to weight ratio just shy of 1000 bhp per ton and should be faster than anything this side of a recent Formula 1 car.

Lotus Exos T125 Cosworth GPV8 engine alternator

Unlike an F1 engine, the GPV8 is designed to run 4500 km between rebuilds and has a starter motor (note the alternator above) so that you don’t need a support crew to be able to run the car at the track. Notably absent chassis features include double-diffusers, exhaust blown diffusers, flexi wings, f-ducts and other F1 innovations that were created to get around the various rules. Being a track only car and not built to a particular series, Lotus has been able to use the best features of F1 without having to use the various rules workarounds. Its a clean sheet design where the designers were told to “have at it boys”.

Lotus Exos T125 Rear Wing + Diffuser

Lotus plans to make just 25 Exos next year and will be pricing then at one million dollars apiece. Apart from the car itself, the Exos program will also include 5 “driver events” at various race tracks that will allow the owners to slowly come up to speed with the performance of their new car by getting instruction and advice from a variety of current and past Lotus drivers (a little birdy tells us that Mika Häkkinen and Jarno Trulli will be involved).

For more on the Exos please watch this video of Stephen Wright from Lotus Motorsports explaining the philosphy behind the Exos.

You can also see the rest of our Exos pictures in the slideshow below or head directly on to Flickr. We request blogs and news outlets that use our content, photos and video to please credit Rahul Nair and the Golden Gate Lotus Club as well as link back to this post.

A huge thanks to our friends at Lotus Cars USA and Boardwalk Lotus for inviting us to the event.

Lewis and Jenson drive the McLaren Mp4-12C

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

While this video is technically neither Lotus nor Formula 1, I figured our readers would probably still be interested. Fantastic production values for this clip and I hope Lotus one day makes a similar video with say Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi in the new Esprit 😀

Group Lotus and Cosworth Announce Strategic Partnership

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Two of Britain’s most renowned automotive names to become closely associated through a strategic partnership looking at the opportunity to develop high performance engines for Lotus road and race cars

The new partnership includes the supply by Cosworth of high performance engines based upon existing Toyota engines for future Lotus cars and the assembly by Cosworth of racing engines for all motorsport activities which are based on Toyota powertrains. The first application of these race engines will be for the V6 engine in the new Lotus Evora Cup racing car.

Dany Bahar CEO of Group Lotus commented, “The ties between Lotus and Cosworth are, of course, already historical ones but our new strategic relationship is based purely on Cosworth’s competencies, brand and race engine development capabilities. This new strategic partnership will align two of the most renowned names in the automotive world and will be of huge benefit for both organisations.”

Tim Routsis, CEO & Managing Director of Cosworth Group said, “I am delighted that the Cosworth name is once again linked to Lotus through this new strategic partnership and these new high performance engines. Our mutual history over many decades resulted in a great number of racing successes and I expect to see further triumphs not only on the racetrack but also in the competitive high performance sportscar market, where Lotus is already acknowledged as a world leader.”

[press release from Lotus]

Recreating your track day laps in GT5

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Polyphony Digital has announced a new feature in Gran Turismo 5 which will allow you to upload data from an automotive data logger and recreate your laps within GT5. While technology currently requires the use of the CANBUS data along with a Denso GPS controller we can only hope that one day we might be able to use this technology with regular track day dataloggers. In the meantime check out this video of a Lexus IS-F lapping the Fuji circuit with its virtual recreation side-by-side.