Lotus Elan

Is the true philosophy of Lotus a harsh ride?

PostPost by: dgym » Sun Jul 19, 2015 5:33 am

Since all this SUV stuff is going on with Lotus, I got to thinking about the "philosophy" that people are getting angry about Lotus swaying away from.

people are talking about how Lotus should be all about handling and nothing else, and a big part of this seems to be that it's fine if the driver is uncomfortable, as long as the car is quick around corners. (i'm basing this on people discussing the elise and exige mostly-and they are apparently uncomfortable)

Now, I consider my elan to be one of the more comfortable cars I've ever driven/ridden in. It has electric windows and a beautiful interior. Comfy seats, carpets. The ride is wonderful. It also goes around corners very quickly.

Did something get confused along the way? Why can't lotus make comfortable sports cars like they used to when Colin was still around?

and what was that F1 car that got banned that had two chassis so as to alleviate driver fatigue? It was a Lotus.
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PostPost by: richardcox_lotus » Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:17 am

If you go back through Lotus history, each new generation of cars has upset the existing buyers.

From mark 6 (space frame and ally) to Elite /Elan /Europa (glass fibre).

Then to the wedges (Elite, ?clat and Esprit) - much bigger and more expensive

Then back to the Elise - stark and cheaper.

I was out in a friends Elise a few weeks ago and the BANG when we went over a pothole was tremendous.

However the Evora is supposed to have a very good ride, so I guess it's just Lotus targeting specific market areas.
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:41 am

I totally agree that the Elan's compliant suspension gives a very comfy ride, and the modern Lotii seem to be quite harsh by comparison. I guess it's something to do with wheel size, with not enough room in the wheel well for the sort of suspension travel available to 13 inch wheels, and more importantly, the rubber band low profile tyres.

Jags have gone the same way. The E Type gives a very supple ride, and the XJS, whilst being a little more firm, is even more comfy, probably down to it being over 2 tonnes in weight!. The modern XK has a lot of tyre noise and is quite harsh on anything less than billiard table smooth surfaces. I tried an XKR-s a few months ago with firmed up suspension, and the same super-low profile tyres, and after 20 miles I'd had enough. It was one of the most uncomfortable cars I'd ever driven! I've found the same with the 'M' BMWs I've driven, some of which have been a lot worse.

I'm sure that if you put a standard Elan around a track with a standard modern Lotus, the modern car would be lapping the old Elan within a few laps. But it seems that a car's ability to get around a track quickly has an inverse relationship to a car being appealing to drive when it comes to spending for a few hours on the pot-holed and undulating roads with other traffic.

James May on Top Gear used to bang on about manufacturers developing and testing their cars on the Nurburgring, and the negative effect that had on the car being something you really wanted to drive on the road. I think he might have had a point.

If you've ever driven a Citroen DS you'll know what a comfy cruiser can be like.

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PostPost by: jimj » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:50 am

Not just Lotus, modern cars in general have a harsher ride. Low profile tyres and road tester`s obsession with track behaviour are the culprits. What proportion of car buyers take their cars on track? and what proportion of their mileage is spent on track. A negligible overall amount I`m guessing.
The Elan is hugely more comfortable than the Elise, handles beautifully and it grips well but not well enough to bear comparison with a modern competitor. But who drives at ten tenths on the road anyway?
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PostPost by: elanfan1 » Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:45 am

So what's the answer then chaps -air suspension? Wonder what that would do for handling. I remember seeing the TV programme about the McLaren F1 I think it was and that has some sort of computer controlled suspension that adjusts ieach wheel some incredible number of times a second so the car could cope well with potholes and the like.

Is this economically feasible on a Lotus as a road car rather than a track/supercar and would it be possible to set it to soft for everyday driving and set it hard for spirited use?
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PostPost by: dgym » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:11 am

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PostPost by: pharriso » Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:55 am

richardcox_lotus wrote:However the Evora is supposed to have a very good ride, so I guess it's just Lotus targeting specific market areas.


Yes, my Evora S does have good ride characteristics. :D

The Elise/Exige are more harsh, maybe because they are more tuned for the track?
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Sun Jul 19, 2015 11:41 am

I remember the original Elise as being highly praised for having an excellent ride.

Since when it has been improved by having a rather large weight increase and the current obsession with
"rubber band" tyres.

Twas ever thus, each new model bigger, heaver and more toys.

Journalists pandering to their core market I guess. Then the manufacturers provide what they think the public has been persuaded to believe is progress. Whether they want it or not!

During my search for a good +2 I have been amazed about how little non specialist dealers actually know. Yet your average public person would probably assume otherwise.
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:00 pm

elanfan1 wrote:So what's the answer then chaps -air suspension? Wonder what that would do for handling. I remember seeing the TV programme about the McLaren F1 I think it was and that has some sort of computer controlled suspension that adjusts ieach wheel some incredible number of times a second so the car could cope well with potholes and the like.

Is this economically feasible on a Lotus as a road car rather than a track/supercar and would it be possible to set it to soft for everyday driving and set it hard for spirited use?

'Twas Lotus that developed active suspension on their F1 car back in the late '80s or early '90s. The next year Williams came out with a simplified version that took Mansell to the 1992 title.
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Sun Jul 19, 2015 8:17 pm

The Evora has been praised for its supple compliant ride, most unlike the Porsche or BMW setup.

It's difficult to make good progress on UK roads in a car that doesn't have supple suspension without loosening ones tooth fillings, but this isn't a recent problem and one only has to look at period road reports on Elans to see the road testers opinions on the ride of modified cars versus standard cars. I have my dampers on the lowest setting and my tyres at the lowest possible pressure to emulate the ride that was designed back in the 60s and 70s
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PostPost by: Jentwistle3 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:46 pm

The Elise is a go cart. The Evora is a car. The Elan was built in a day when sports cars still had to be cars. It's funny how many people on this list want to modify their Elans to make them faster: lower, stiffer suspensions, wider, lower profile tires, and peakier, higher revving engines. Just like an Elise. The Elise runs rings around the Elan and when I want to go fast I take the Elise. The Elan must have four times the boot space of the Elise, when I want to go to the store (in a toy) I take the Elan. Lotus hasn't lost the art of good suspensions, the Elise is a track day toy like the Seven was. The Evora is the car in the Lotus lineup: here's waiting for the 400 convertible!
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