Lotus Elise and Exige - are they safe in a crash?

Lotus Elise and Exige - are they safe in a crash?

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Discussion

AdvocatusD

Original Poster:

2,277 posts

187 months

Wednesday 27th May
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Stephanie Plum said:
Honestly if this is worrying you then a Lotus isn’t for you. Or any other classic car. There are much higher volume sports cars that will have ncap ratings that you should look at.
Sorry, how is a recent Exige a classic car?

Just to be clearer, I'm looking at S3 Exiges which are only a few years old?

And on the safety point, my concern is about a low speed knock on the backside leading to a cut head. Easily doable in a car park for example? Perhaps even at 20 miles an hour, which based on what I saw would have led to a serious injury. Unless it was a freak occurence?

Edited by AdvocatusD on Wednesday 27th May 17:49

kambites

59,494 posts

177 months

Wednesday 27th May
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I'd be interested to know how it happened. There's no way a 20mph impact could lead to cabin intrusion and generally rear-shunts are amongst the safest form of accidents because the head is simply pushed back into the seats. Plus fixed-back buckets generally offer better protection in that sort of situation than conventional adjustable seats which often have the head restraints set up badly.

However, from a safety point of view, an S3 Exige is still fundamentally a 25 year old car and wasn't even an especially safe car even 25 years ago. Especially in any sort of accident involving another, almost certainly heavier, car.


In some respects a 111 platform car, even a brand new example, is best viewed as a classic and safety is one of those respects. Obviously an Elise/Exige is generally going to fair better in a crash than anything from the 60s or 70s and the vast majority of things from the 80s, but it's realistically going to be one of the worse cars from the 90s and on a completely different scale to anything properly modern.

Edited by kambites on Wednesday 27th May 18:34

AdvocatusD

Original Poster:

2,277 posts

187 months

Wednesday 27th May
quotequote all
kambites said:
I'd be interested to know how it happened. There's no way a 20mph impact could lead to cabin intrusion and generally rear-shunts are amongst the safest form of accidents because the head is simply pushed back into the seats. Plus fixed-back buckets generally offer better protection in that sort of situation than conventional adjustable seats which often have the head restraints set up badly.
It wasn't anywhere near 20 mph, that is what has given me the shivers.

Owner says: "Probax flexed backward and my head scraped the rollover protection"

Stephanie Plum

2,599 posts

167 months

Wednesday 27th May
quotequote all
AdvocatusD said:
Stephanie Plum said:
Honestly if this is worrying you then a Lotus isn’t for you. Or any other classic car. There are much higher volume sports cars that will have ncap ratings that you should look at.
Sorry, how is a recent Exige a classic car?

Just to be clearer, I'm looking at S3 Exiges which are only a few years old?

And on the safety point, my concern is about a low speed knock on the backside leading to a cut head. Easily doable in a car park for example? Perhaps even at 20 miles an hour, which based on what I saw would have led to a serious injury. Unless it was a freak occurence?

Edited by AdvocatusD on Wednesday 27th May 17:49
It’s an old design. Yes they may have put a V6 in the back and tarted it up but the tub goes back to the 90s.

kambites

59,494 posts

177 months

Thursday 28th May
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AdvocatusD said:
Owner says: "Probax flexed backward and my head scraped the rollover protection"
Ah that would make sense, I guess. He must be very tall because that could only happen if the seat was all the way back and his head was poking over the top of it. I'm six foot and would be serveral inches off that being possible.

AdvocatusD

Original Poster:

2,277 posts

187 months

Thursday 28th May
quotequote all
kambites said:
Ah that would make sense, I guess. He must be very tall because that could only happen if the seat was all the way back and his head was poking over the top of it. I'm six foot and would be serveral inches off that being possible.
He's not, actually! He's pretty much my height at 5 foot 10!

I think the points made mean I'll never get the current generation of Lotus. How gutting. Just superb cars and I recall having as much fun in a Lotus at 40 mph as I did in a Ferrari at rather more.

kambites

59,494 posts

177 months

Thursday 28th May
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AdvocatusD said:
He's not, actually! He's pretty much my height at 5 foot 10!
Sounds very odd then. His head should have been several inches under the roll-bar cover however much the seat flexed and I'd have expected the seat for someone that short to be far enough forward that it wouldn't flex back as far as the roll-bar anyway.

ETA: Ah I've just realised you said he was parked. Did he not have his seatbelt on? Give how laid back the seats are, I can quite believe with no seatbelt that you'd slide up the seat-back and your your head on the roll bar cover. If he had his belt on, the seatbelt pretensioners should have stopped that from happening (assuming they're active while the car is switched off).

Edited by kambites on Thursday 28th May 09:55

CTE

1,351 posts

196 months

Thursday 28th May
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It does sound like a freak accident, but these things do happen. As such however, it sounds like it could have happened in any car with a full roll bar above/behind the seat back. Solution, put some padding against the roll bar...although on the newer cars the bar is covered by as panel which is quite flexible. You could put some additional padding on that?

I had a hard rear end shunt in my S1 Elise when on a test day prior to a race...I made a mistake which caused the car to spin when entering a corner. The car shot backwards across the grass and through a gravel trap (I was going pretty fast...c 100mph) and slammed into the Armco...the impact speed was about 50mph. Yes I was belted in and had a crash helmet on etc but it was a pretty hard impact. I did bang my head a bit against my seat back but was nowhere near the roll bar. The rear clam was split in a few places but we managed to patch it up and glue it back together to get back out racing.

I reckon your best bet would be to get a new/recent MX5 and take it to BBR...that would make a pretty excellent road sports car. If you go down the Porsche route, excellent cars that they are, they are a different type of beast and nowhere near as engaging...although I`ve never driven/been in a GT3/4 for instance.

I have an Exige S3 and what's going on behind you is normally the last thing you need to worry about!

AdvocatusD

Original Poster:

2,277 posts

187 months

Thursday 28th May
quotequote all
CTE said:
I reckon your best bet would be to get a new/recent MX5 and take it to BBR...that would make a pretty excellent road sports car. If you go down the Porsche route, excellent cars that they are, they are a different type of beast and nowhere near as engaging...although I`ve never driven/been in a GT3/4 for instance.
Happy to say I've had all of these, including the BBR. I suspect an Exige S3 would be a superior car dynamically in terms of pure driving experience, compared to all of these.


Edited by AdvocatusD on Thursday 28th May 11:16

CTE

1,351 posts

196 months

Friday 29th May
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Definitely, and an S3 Exige is a pretty unique/intense experience full stop.

gareth h

2,327 posts

186 months

Saturday 30th May
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Just looked at mine, I’d say the seat would have to be at full travel, and the driver very tall, mine has carbon seats which are very rigid with almost no give, I certainly wouldn’t let this incident dissuade me from buying one.

_Bandit_

762 posts

151 months

Saturday 30th May
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I’ve driven Elises (and now S3 Exige) for the last 12 years and somewhere around 80k miles, road, track and touring Europe.
In that time I’ve seen some cars crashed - hard. Including one on its roof, one wrapped around a tree, one having a head on with a muckspreader with a combined speed of 90mph along with several front and rear enders. The worst injury was a broken ankle (in the head on). Every single other person walked away from the accident - they’re incredibly strong little cars.

You’re hugely missing out if you’re worried to the point or paranoia about having an accident in one. Don’t forget you sit in the tub rather than on it.
Test drive one before talking yourself out of it over a million to one chance

ecain63

10,090 posts

131 months

Sunday 31st May
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I have an Exige 410. In fact, I'm on my second one having crashed my first.

84mph impact speed, head on with a crash barrier at Thruxton. Not the best day out!

Front end destroyed. Engine moved forward and hit rear bulkhead. Roof blew off on impact. Tub damage. But, absolutely no cabin intrusion and I got away without needing an ambulance.



simonpieman

342 posts

142 months

Sunday 31st May
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Wow

simonpieman

342 posts

142 months

Sunday 31st May
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That picture is both soul destroying and reassuring, the latter because you walked away.

kambites

59,494 posts

177 months

Monday 1st June
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Yeah the Elise's problems (if one views them as such) have never been with tub strength or the ability of the crash structure to absorb wide frontal impacts with static objects.

Out of interest were you using the standard inertia reel seatbelts or a harness? If the latter did you have a HANS device?

Edited by kambites on Monday 1st June 14:57

ecain63

10,090 posts

131 months

Monday 1st June
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kambites said:
Yeah the Elise's problems (if one views them as such) have never been with tub strength or the ability of the crash structure to absorb wide frontal impacts with static objects.

Out of interest were you using the standard inertia reel seatbelts or a harness? If the latter did you have a HANS device?

Edited by kambites on Monday 1st June 14:57
Not sure if that was meant for me, but I was using standard seat belts and a full face helmet (which shattered across the forehead, possibly from the airbag). No HANS device.

kambites

59,494 posts

177 months

Monday 1st June
quotequote all
ecain63 said:
Not sure if that was meant for me, but I was using standard seat belts and a full face helmet (which shattered across the forehead, possibly from the airbag). No HANS device.
I suspect that's one of the better combination for that sort of accident. If you'd been wearing a harness the forces on your neck would have been horrific because there wouldn't have been enough play in the belts for the airbag to do its job. If you hadn't had a helmet on, whatever force cracked the helmet would have cracked your skull instead... sounds like the car did everything it should have, but you were probably still pretty lucky to get away so lightly!

Composite Guru

2,085 posts

159 months

Monday 1st June
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Crashing was the last thing I thought about when I bought mine.
The driving outweighs the worry of crash damage in my world.

Just buy one, you won’t regret it.

MellowshipSlinky

11,731 posts

145 months

Thursday 4th June
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I walked away from this - rather heavy impact with a Merc at quite a speed.
Apart from airbag burns to my face and lots of glass and fibre glass in my arm (still a few lumps of glass in there) I was generally ok.

I’ve had two Exige V6’s since this, so didn’t put me off smile