2000 Lotus Elise 1.8i
A bit of a let down
Nothing really went wrong with my Elise. The boot mechanism fell apart when I opened the boot once, but I fixed it myself.
Other than that, in the short time I owned the car, it was extremely reliable. The problems with the car, are just how it is, not necessarily things that have gone wrong.
I spent a long time researching the Elise, and I spent around 8 months looking for a good example of one. I joined the Lotus forums to gain as much knowledge of the car as possible before I got one. When I found one after 8 months of looking at a dealership, I was very excited. My car before this was a modified Nissan Skyline, and I traded this in to get the Elise.
I really regret doing that now. The thing is, there is nothing wrong with the Elise I owned, as I said above, the flaws (or perhaps quirks would be a better word) of the car are in how the car actually 'is' and not that it went wrong. There's actually very little to go wrong really if you think about it.
I test drove the Elise with a grin on my face at first, but after about a minute of driving I was asking myself "Is this it? The performance seems a bit of a let down. Maybe it's just that I'm not used to driving it yet." I thought to myself. I bought the car and went home, telling myself I was satisfied (but I was probably just trying to justify a 10k purchase in my own mind now that I look back). Firstly, the performance seemed to be pretty poor if I'm honest, and mine was a modified Elise too, with sports exhaust, induction and decat pipe and Koni suspension set up. I expected the car to be a totally raw and exciting driving experience with incredible handling, loads of fun and really fast acceleration, but it wasn't. The Skyline I drove for 3 years had far, far better performance, great handling if you knew how to handle it, and accelerated at such an exciting rate, it really made your heart pound and pinned you to your seat. Not to mention the fact that nothing ever went wrong with it in 3 years of driving.
I learned a lot during the 2 months I had the Elise. It made me realise the things I value in a car and perhaps before took for granted. As I said, there's nothing wrong with the Elise, it's just if you can live with it. I thought I could before, having done all the research I could about them. But when I actually owned it for a while, I realized I couldn't. I guess the problem was with me and not the car really.
My advise to anyone contemplating an Elise, is to drive one as much as possible before doing it to see how you really feel about it. There are things to consider, such as:
1 - A roof that will always leak in rain, and sometimes you just get caught in a downpour, such is life in England... I sometimes drove to work with a towel in my lap as it kept dripping through.
2 - The engine can overheat in heavy traffic - Can you live day to day avoiding traffic? Sometimes you hit a jam and it's unavoidable, the Elise could be in trouble if this happens. It's not just a mid engined problem either, I used to own a mk1 MR2 which never overheated.
3 - There is VERY little room inside. I'm a bodybuilder, so I'm fairly wide shouldered, but when my best friend who's also a bodybuilder is in the car with me, we could hardly move!
4 - For you, the driver that is, getting in and out is something you'll get used to after a couple of days, but for anyone else, it's very difficult. Nobody I ever gave a lift to was able to get in or out without difficulty or without embarrassing themselves (to your amusement). It got to the point where people would rather take a cab than have a lift with you (that could be considered a plus point though...)
I hope this helps anyone out there thinking of buying one, and if I've inadvertently offended any other Elise owners, then please forgive me, that wasn't my intention. I guess at the end of the day, I was mainly disappointed in the performance, it just didn't seem fast at all to me. I sold the Elise after 2 months and I've just bought a Mitsubishi GTO twin Turbo, which costs just under a 3rd of the price of the Elise, is reliable, faster and extremely comfortable at the same time as being great fun. At the end of the day, all drivers who love driving want to be able to actually enjoy their driving driving, regardless of what the badge on the car says. Nissan or Mitsubishi may not be as prestigious as Lotus, but in my humble opinion, they are so much better than most of these prestigious cars could ever be.
One last thing, I don't regret buying the Lotus at all. If I hadn't of bought it and driven it for a while, I never would have realized I just couldn't live with it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 27th April, 2008
You do make a good point about the Elise; its short comings are pretty obvious, but until you have tried living with them, you're never really sure. However if you want power and performance from a car at a similar price, then a TVR Tuscan might satisfy you; 0-60 in 4 seconds and 0-100 in less than 9. Now that's super fast. The only problem with a TVR is reliability.
If performance is your thing, k20 Elise's are a force to reckon with. I sat as a passenger in a Elise with a k20 swap and supercharged. Nothing was getting near it at Snetterton. A 911 Turbo and Ferrari owner were so surprised, they came over after, and wanted a go and took a lot of pictures.