PH CARPOOL: LOTUS SCURA
Sinister looking special edition Exige a very successful impulse purchase for this week's carpooler
Car: Lotus Scura (special edition Exige 260 Cup)
Owned since: January 2010 (from new)
Previously owned: Elise 111R
I never thought of myself as an impulse buyer, but the Scura was an impulse buy.
I decided a few years ago that the time had come to buy a proper car to go with the family barge (currently a 530d M Sport Touring - by some margin the best family car we have had). I tried various cars (Z4, TVRs etc) and an Elise (111R) was the clear winner, but then that may have something to do with regular forays into "pay and play" kart racing and corporate driving events. I loved the sound of a TVR but it was just far too heavy and, dare I say it, a little agricultural which outweighed the great noise of V8. The others were too mainstream. What swung it and what really makes me smile, is the precise handling and "feel" that you get with a Lotus. The only thing that came close was a Caterham but, having tried one, decided that was too just too impractical.
I loved the Elise - it provided three years of fantastic (and hassle free) fun. I loved the handling and the fact that it put a smile on my face even on a roundabout at 30mph. I also always liked the response I got from other people - real interest and none of the envy that Astons, or Porsches seem to engender. However, I always hankered after its more hooligan Exige brother.
the news about the Scura from the 2009 Japanese motor show. Like most posters that day, I was smitten. An hour later I saw an advert on the classifieds that Parky, who used to be at Lipscomb and is a real enthusiast, had two out of the five UK built slots. I called him: one car had already gone and he'd had five or six serious enquiries. I spoke to my (very understanding) wife and handed over the deposit. The whole thing from start to finish took half a day.
We went to see it being built. There were 35 Scuras built and about 25 were in the factory at that time - quite amazing to see them all together on the production line, at various stages of assembly. I was told by the UK Sales Manager that he thought they wouldn't sell and only ordered five for the UK, which he very quickly regretted. I know one of the five went to Sweden a while back, so there are four (at most) in the UK.
What I wish I'd known:
My 12-year-old son loves it - he likes me to take him to school and makes sure that I park it as close to the entrance as I can. My 14-year-old daughter on the other hand won't let me go anywhere near her school for fear of being noticed in something so ostentatious.
Things I Love:
The smile it puts on my face when I am driving - the acceleration (0-62 in four seconds), the direct handling and the fact that you really can have lots of fun at street-legal speeds. It is all very simple without being too basic. It is just a heap of good fun.
I have also grown to enjoy the fact that it attracts attention in a good way. It seems to prompt smiles and attention of the right sort.
Things I hate:
Beyond that there is very little to hate. Yes, it is hugely impractical but I can get one child, the dog or my golf clubs in the front seat and it is only a second car.
It is no joy to drive for more than an hour in heavy traffic.
Occasionally the batman jokes get a little wearing.
I have seen lots of comments on bulletin boards about how difficult it must be to clean, but it is very straightforward. I was worried about the fact that Lotus only gave the paint a one year warranty, but so far no discolouration. After a couple of months of ownership, I noticed the roof was a very slightly different shade of matt black. Lotus were great, had the car picked up in London, took it back to Norfolk and lent me an Evora.
I was told earlier this year that I could probably sell it for almost what I paid for it, so (other than tyres) ownership costs have been minimal.
Where I've been:
Nowhere near enough places. I am afraid that I haven't even tracked it (yes, I know that is going to prompt indignation on the message boards). It was always the intention to track it, but for various reasons just haven't done it yet (broken leg, too busy at work, bad weather, etc, etc). I haven't even done any Lotus meets. I know I should change that.
I guess that I will get itchy feet in a year or two's time. However, with Lotus's plans for new models stalling there aren't many alternatives. If you'd asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I want an Aston but it just isn't lairy enough. The only alternative now is a Lamborghini or MP4-12C (or possibly a GT3). But I don't think my wife would be quite so understanding if I made an impulse buy of that size - the next one may take a bit more warning. Or maybe I'll just keep the Scura.