Login | Register
SearchMy Stuff
My ProfileMy PreferencesMy Mates RSS Feed
Thursday 17th May 2012

PH Fleet: Lotus Elise Sport 135

Rain stops play and instead inspires musings on how much trust we place in reviews and reviewers



When I was shopping for my Elise the biggest influence on my decision to hold out for one of the rarest of the breed was a review, written by someone I've never met, printed in ink on paper, perfect bound and placed on a shelf in a newsagent. I'm sure I'm not alone in placing a massive amount of faith in a five-star rating from a magazine with three letters, but what really cemented my decision to buy a Sport 135 was the revelation that it had been awarded second place in that same publication's 1998 car of the year competition (bet you can't guess what won).

OK, so it didn't actually win in the end...
OK, so it didn't actually win in the end...
Yet try as I might, I just couldn't track down the article itself. It seems that this particular issue has become pretty rare over the years - copies are fetching £25 on eBay - and I drew a blank finding any kind reference to it online. So the opportunity to actually getting to read said review only arrived a few weeks ago, thanks to a friend with a copy in the loft.

Tell me I'm right
With any purchase, particularly those as significant as a car, it's human nature to seek vindication. No one wants to feels like they've bought a lemon. So it was comforting to read the praise that was heaped on this little car, so new that it only arrived from the factory on the second day of the test. Phrases such as 'immense fun' and 'a revelation' leapt from the page, but it wasn't until the final spread that I found out just how close to slaying a Goliath the Elise had come, missing out by just one point to the 996 Carrera 2.

Praise heaped on Elise inspired purchase
Praise heaped on Elise inspired purchase
Of course there were criticisms, but these will be familiar to any Elise owner and included a disconcerting vagueness to the front end in the wet, a stringy gear change and a roof of Rubik's cube complexity. Interestingly the article repeatedly talked about changes to the suspension on the Sport 135 over standard S1s, something I've not heard mentioned before.

As a relatively new Elise owner, I've been absorbing information like a sponge ever since I bought it. Even now, my curiosity for what's been written about it remains strong. But I can't help but wonder how the petrolhead of the future will find guidance in their quest for motoring thrills? Will there still be magazines offering extensive archives of knowledge? Will words, represented by characters rather than verbalised, still carry weight? Will journalists and writers find their opinions eclipsed by user reviews?

As close to track comparison as Danny got
As close to track comparison as Danny got
Rise of the armchair expert?
Personally, I think the medium might change, but I firmly believe there will always be people seeking the judgment of an expert. And by that I mean someone who has the experience to be able to contextualise any car among both its forerunners and its contemporaries, and craft an analysis of it in such a way as to entertain and inform. As much as video offers that instant gratification, I can't imagine returning to peruse old Youtube clips in the same way as I can a dusty box of back issues.

And my Elise? Well, I had hoped to be telling you about a little on-track comparison with Caterham's Supersport. And I got as far as Rockingham - the chosen venue - on a day of utterly biblical rain, only to find the circuit literally underwater and the event cancelled. If this rain ever ends, hopefully I'll get a chance to reschedule it in time for the next report.

In the mean time, feel free to mock my efforts to skid the Elise at Abbeville in the videobelow. Ridicule expected; constructive criticism welcomed.


Fact sheet
Car:
1998 Lotus Elise Sport 135
Run by: Danny Milner
Bought: October 2010
Purchase price: £9,500
This month at a glance: Aborted attempt to compare against a Caterham, sheltered indoors reading old road tests instead.

Previous Reports
Shiny new dampers and suspension, followed by a shakedown atAbbeville
A Lotus joins the PH Fleet - but will it prove lots of trouble?


 

 

Danny Milner
2 3
Reply to Topic
Author Discussion

Mike Gill

Original Poster:

51 posts

58 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
The medium will most certinaly evolve as it has done, with EVO magazine now doing an iPad issue of their magazines and Pistonheads being the first point of call for motoring enthusiasts, however it's just like the book vs film question, videoes are recorded and no matter what mood you're in it will play how it was recorded. The beauty of the written word is that depending what mood/situation you're in can change how you read it. Also there is something special about physically holding a copy of a magazine, ripping out the poster in the middle and piling them up on a shelf to document you're passion. Better than a favourites playlist on youtube anyway.

b14

451 posts

75 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Constructive criticism: more power and a limited slip diff required :-)

suffolk009

1,537 posts

52 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I've no time for Kindles and ebooks. I love paper books, and magazines, and TV shows, and proper webcast stuff. It all has a purpose and it all has a place. All this content had been written, edited and published. That is what keeps standards high. Self publishing on blogs etc will never, lastingly, reach the same standard.

I know exactly what you mean about those early days of Evo and the Elise. Great reviews. I have a big collection of old magazines (Evo from issue 1) and many more from the 60s - Motorsport mainly. It is far more interesting going back to look at contemporary reviews than looking at the new Classic Car writing. The contemporary reviews will always be rose tinted and very much reflecting the current ££s value of cars.

I read a recent side-by-side comparison review (written back when they were new) of a Reliant Scimitar and an E-type 2+2. No suprises, the Scimitar won.

Tib

424 posts

66 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Buy an e36 and drift slag it if you want to go sideways. That said I've never seen anyone else drift an elise. Nice article though.

Captain Muppet

8,100 posts

152 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Tib said:
Buy an e36 and drift slag it if you want to go sideways. That said I've never seen anyone else drift an elise. Nice article though.
There was a chap who competed in the UKD1 (or D1UK, I forget which way round it was) back in 2004ish. He used a standard S1 Elise and did amazingly well considering it has no spare steering lock. I watched him at Silverstone and was very impressed.

I'll see if I can find some pics...
Advertisement

herebebeasties

296 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Sounds like you're being very violent with the throttle at times there, which is obviously in an effort to unsettle the car, but it's hardly resulting in stuff that's nice and progressive. ;-)

My S2 is a bit differently set-up to your S1, but I find that because it's generally so sticky, provoking it sharply makes it bite me. More progressive oversteer comes if you use the momentum a bit more - try going for a much sharper initial turn-in, which will bring the rear around in a slightly more predictable way than stabbing at the throttle violently mid-corner. But yeah, Elises aren't really set up for drifting...

herebebeasties

296 posts

106 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all

PhilJames

232 posts

80 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Oh the irony of ironies.

You seek vindication for the car you just bought in EVO magazine, who are well known to sacrifice honesty for their own vindication of their opinion by choosing the car of the year that will vindicate their readers tastes. This is why so many people hail the MX5 and Porsche, not because they are actually any good but just to be seen as being 'right' by repeating the ever recycled vindication.

If EVO magazine/others vindications play a role in which car you buy, then you are just following Fashion?

TonyHetherington

31,848 posts

137 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I read an interesting column by Harry M in evo a few months ago (I'm pretty sure it was HM), anyway - it said that for all the comments and criticisms that magazines make on particular cars - often, the public don't pay any attention at all. I think it singled out Audi sports suspension and bigger wheels as an example.

Interesting stuff biggrin

HorneyMX5

1,936 posts

37 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
OP said:
As much as video offers that instant gratification, I can't imagine returning to peruse old Youtube clips in the same way as I can a dusty box of back issues.
You'd be surprised. After purchasing both my MX5 and my MG ZT I trawled youtube for old TV reviews of both vehicles. The William Woolard review of the MX5 was short and quite amsuingly dated. The 5thG review of the MG Z cars was pretty entertaining and interesting.

But that said, there's not a huge amount of real info in these clips and for a proper review of anything, even in todays multimedia infused world, you still need written words and lots of them.

Nick

Tin Hat

618 posts

96 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I have been encouraging my Elise to go sideways for about 10 years. I fear that I am still pretty rubbish at it but I soon realised that a 'power slide' was unlikely to happen in a sub 190 BHP Elise in the dry, a more effective and mechanically sympathetic approach appears to be using decceleration - ie backing off and using the braking effect of the engine ( not unlike applying the handbrake ).

However, that is possibly a load of tosh - Walsh is your man at Carlimits, he has you going sideways (not always neatly) in 5 minutes......

Rawwr

14,545 posts

121 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
PhilJames said:
Oh the irony of ironies.

You seek vindication for the car you just bought in EVO magazine, who are well known to sacrifice honesty for their own vindication of their opinion by choosing the car of the year that will vindicate their readers tastes. This is why so many people hail the MX5 and Porsche, not because they are actually any good but just to be seen as being 'right' by repeating the ever recycled vindication.

If EVO magazine/others vindications play a role in which car you buy, then you are just following Fashion?
You've learnt the word 'vindication' today, haven't you?

Rawwr

14,545 posts

121 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Tin Hat said:
a 'power slide' was unlikely to happen in a sub 190 BHP Elise in the dry
You can certainly do it going into the S at North Weald: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ-gXFmgaCU

Captain Muppet

8,100 posts

152 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
PhilJames said:
Oh the irony of ironies.

You seek vindication for the car you just bought in EVO magazine, who are well known to sacrifice honesty for their own vindication of their opinion by choosing the car of the year that will vindicate their readers tastes. This is why so many people hail the MX5 and Porsche, not because they are actually any good but just to be seen as being 'right' by repeating the ever recycled vindication.

If EVO magazine/others vindications play a role in which car you buy, then you are just following Fashion?
Are you Alanis Morrisette? How is reading an old magazine report on a car you already bought ironic?

GTiFrank

576 posts

71 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I agree, mostly. Can spend hours trawling through youtube and magazine websites looking at car reviews for cars i am about to buy or have just bought. But often there is a lack of info and detail on the web, having said that owners forums are usually the best bet for posting pdfs of old mag articles.

I would never go out any buy any car based on one magazines 5 star review. In fact clio rs' dont hold much appeal to me for this reason, brilliant i am sure. But i am the kind of buyer who would prefer the to buy the oddball and more interesting/ less well known cars and to hell what an journo makes of it as long as i like the way it drives.

Not that i dont value journos opinions, just prefer to make my own mind up if seriously interested.

Si_man306

357 posts

72 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
I take it that was you trying to get the elise to step out of line? Agree with the other comments (i'll try and keep it constructive!) needs to be more progressive...

I appreciate it's hard though, it took me a whole year to be able to slide my exige with any finesse at all and even then they're a complete ar*e to drive fast in the wet. Have you tried one of the car limits days (link is on here- north wield) worth every penny for the tuition by the legend that is Andy Walsh. For track driving as well as road, i've never quite experienced anything quite as technicaly useful as what I learnt there.

EDLT

14,724 posts

93 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
TonyHetherington said:
I read an interesting column by Harry M in evo a few months ago (I'm pretty sure it was HM), anyway - it said that for all the comments and criticisms that magazines make on particular cars - often, the public don't pay any attention at all. I think it singled out Audi sports suspension and bigger wheels as an example.

Interesting stuff biggrin
Evo said the Renaultsport Megane handled better on the standard 18" wheels, then put 19s on their long-termer. I've got an issue somewhere where they put 20" (I think) wheels on a Focus ST. So they don't listen to their own advice.

They are all "semi-professional racing drivers" though, and they really did dab oppos on the way to the office this morning. Honest.

PhilJames

232 posts

80 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Captain Muppet said:
Are you Alanis Morrisette? How is reading an old magazine report on a car you already bought ironic?
No I'm not Alanis Morrisette (yes, I see what you did there).

It was a comment on how people look for vindication in a magazine article and how magazine articles are often written with the existing opinion of their target audience in mind. If we are all seeking the vindication of approval of others then surely we are just following fashion trends.

I learnt the word Vindication prior to this topic and the word Ironic before that unfortunate song.



PhilJames

232 posts

80 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
Rawwr said:
You've learnt the word 'vindication' today, haven't you?
No

Captain Muppet

8,100 posts

152 months

[news] 
Thursday 17th May 2012 quote quote all
PhilJames said:
Captain Muppet said:
Are you Alanis Morrisette? How is reading an old magazine report on a car you already bought ironic?
No I'm not Alanis Morrisette (yes, I see what you did there).

It was a comment on how people look for vindication in a magazine article and how magazine articles are often written with the existing opinion of their target audience in mind. If we are all seeking the vindication of approval of others then surely we are just following fashion trends.

I learnt the word Vindication prior to this topic and the word Ironic before that unfortunate song.
How is reading an old magazine report on a car you already bought ironic?
2 3
Reply to Topic