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Cars We Drive! - Page 688

post #10306 of 14508
^having owned both those cars and driven the 1M on the track, though, I would say the M3 fits more of my definition of the UDM though. Much better performance, linear power delivery, better handling and preferable to drive on the track. The issue with the E82 is that it's still too heavy (and for me the power curve of a turbo is annoying but most don't care). But like someone already said, you really can't build a truly lightweight car anymore unless you gut it like Lotus does (and ensure its failure in the general marketplace), or build it out of a full carbon fiber tub and charge 200k for it
post #10307 of 14508
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRoi View Post

But like someone already said, you really can't build a truly lightweight car anymore unless you gut it like Lotus does (and ensure its failure in the general marketplace), or build it out of a full carbon fiber tub and charge 200k for it

The price of carbon fiber will come down eventually and there is already hope on the horizon with Alfa's new 4C. Carbon fiber tub, approx 2000 lbs, 240 hp, hopefully good driving dynamics and Alfa claims this to be more of a real car than the Lotus Elise.

http://www.caranddriver.com/news/2014-alfa-romeo-4c-photos-and-info-news
post #10308 of 14508
Btw, I was comparing the E82, the E82M and the E9x M. I reread Juyle's post and he was talking about the E46M, which I've never driven on the track.

Re: Alfa 4c, I too was excited about that (ignoring Alfa's reputation for rubbish reliability for a moment) until I read somewhere that it would likely be north of $80k. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not paying that much for a 4-banger. But yes, it's certainly a step in the right direction
post #10309 of 14508
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRoi View Post

Re: Alfa 4c, I too was excited about that (ignoring Alfa's reputation for rubbish reliability for a moment) until I read somewhere that it would likely be north of $80k. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not paying that much for a 4-banger. But yes, it's certainly a step in the right direction

Interesting - I read closer to $55k and intended to be Cayman competitor. Porsche looks to be the only game in town for moderately lightweight (3000 lbs) naturally aspirated 6 cylinder sports cars.
post #10310 of 14508
If I recall, the 4C is supposed to sell for $55-60k U.S.--right in Boxster/Cayman territory.

Ugly as sin, but otherwise promising. I fear that packaging and comfort compromises--though less severe than in the Elise/Exige--will do it in. At the end, the market is what drives cars to get stupider and stupider.
post #10311 of 14508
Actually, come to think of it, the Cayman S is pretty much impossible to get under $80k with the good options. So an $80k Cayman, or a 100 hp less Alfa with exotic construction? The Cayman is the known quantity here, and is being touted as one of the best-driving cars ever (I haven't driven it), so it would have to be the favorite...but at least the comparison doesn't seem so ridiculous if the Alfa comes out hugely lighter than the Cayman (concept is allegedly 1000+ lbs lighter)

IF it comes out anywhere close to $55k, then it is a huge winner. Then its only competition is the Lotus, which is ugly and doesn't sell a huge amount
post #10312 of 14508
Quote:
Originally Posted by jet View Post

Can't stand tint and 80% of the cars have it, shit looks dumb as fuck. Yes let me decrease my visibility at night.
I'm another one who absolutely hates tinted windows. I wouldn't own a car with it.
post #10313 of 14508
I found the article that led me to believe the Alfa will be $80k plus - it actually speaks to Alfa's struggles to get the cost of CF construction down. I wish we could soon get full CF bodies in sub-$80k cars ...think of the possibilities!

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/2014-alfa-romeo-4c-25-cars-worth-waiting-for-20142017-future-cars
post #10314 of 14508
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRoi View Post

I found the article that led me to believe the Alfa will be $80k plus - it actually speaks to Alfa's struggles to get the cost of CF construction down. I wish we could soon get full CF bodies in sub-$80k cars ...think of the possibilities!

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/2014-alfa-romeo-4c-25-cars-worth-waiting-for-20142017-future-cars

Oh yeah - I did read that. Obviously a huge difference in price. I'm sure they'll be able to sell 3k of them but not quite what people had hoped for in pricing. I suppose if it's actually $86k equipped that still puts it in the Cayman ballpark and obviously it will have the exclusivity factor.

It's not the best looking car out there, but far from the insect ugly stick that beat the Elise/Exige.
post #10315 of 14508
The last revision of the Elise was quite pretty, I thought.
post #10316 of 14508
a few years ago, an Elise rear ended an SUV in front of my apartment building. The Lotus was in really bad shape (I'll see if I have a picture later), the SUV may have sustained a scratch.
post #10317 of 14508
Quote:
Originally Posted by jet View Post

Can't stand tint and 80% of the cars have it, shit looks dumb as fuck. Yes let me decrease my visibility at night.

Never had any issues with night visibility, I had 30% tint in my last car and the only issue I had was that I couldn't see the wall in the rearview, while reversing in to my parking spot where I live, so I had to use the side mirrors.
post #10318 of 14508
The Elise/VX220 platform is basically made to crumple in every single direction at the slightest provocation. I have a friend who flipped his VX220 4 times into a field and came out without a scratch. The body work gets ripped off and you're left with a nice safe rollcage.
post #10319 of 14508
An interesting point of view on Lotus and the British Motor Establishment:
Warning: Long and Eurocentric Article (Click to show)
And so there we are. Saab, TVR, Humber, Riley, Gilbern, Wolseley, AC, De Tomaso. All dead. And now it seems Lotus is peeping through the cemetery's rusting gate.

Indeed, earlier this month, there were reports that the axe had already fallen. Can you even begin to imagine the torrent of stories that this would have generated, had it been true? We'd have read reams about the engineering prowess of founder Colin Chapman, who realised in the Fifties what other carmakers are only just beginning to understand now: lightness is everything.

Motorsport enthusiasts would have produced thousands of words about the black and gold JPS Lotus F1 cars. There would have been eulogies about the seven world championships, and interviews with Emerson Fittipaldi. And tears would have turned the purple prose into a mauve mush.

Then you'd have been treated to miles of column inches on road cars from the glory days. Men with beards would have gone to Norfolk and driven around in old Sevens. There would have been pictures of Diana Rigg who used an Elan in The Avengers, and Roger Moore who had an Esprit in various Bond movies.

And I wouldn't have been surprised by any of it, because Lotus did indeed have a veneer of excellence. But behind the outer layer of sharp handling and Ayrton Senna and boffins working their magic among the turnip fields of East Anglia, Lotus is actually a company with a hopeless and, in some ways, slightly disgusting past.

It all began well enough in some London stables. And there can be no doubt that Colin Chapman was deeply clever. Having coined the mantra "Simplify, then add lightness", he proceeded to do no such thing. He added complications, many of which were very successful. It was he who brought aerodynamics to motor racing. He who invented ground effect. He who introduced composites.

But, sadly, it appears that he wasn't a very good businessman. Which meant that in 1980, when sales were low because of a global depression, he didn't innovate or invest his way out of trouble. He made an arrangement with Toyota whereby Lotus would offer expertise in handling in return for not much, so far as I can tell.

Meanwhile, to boost sales in the US, he did a deal with an American lawyer which was one gigantic tax-avoidance scheme. Anyone who invested was given a personalised Esprit Turbo. I'm sure it was all very clever, but when you are moving columns of numbers around in ledgers, you are not thinking up the next big thing in your car factory...

That's why the next big thing was in someone else's car factory. John DeLorean's. Mr DeLorean had employed Lotus to design a chassis for his new sports car which would be built in Northern Ireland, in a factory paid for by the British government.

All was well until it transpired a great deal of money had gone missing. DeLorean fled and was subsequently busted for dealing cocaine. DeLorean went t**s-up. And Her Majesty's tax inspectors turned their attention to Colin Chapman, who promptly died of a heart attack. He was only 54.

The company was saved by a group of businessmen who did some kind of a deal with the taxman. And there was much cheering and waving of flags in the turnip fields. But it quickly became obvious that the businessmen, though wealthy, were not wealthy enough to go it alone in the car world. And so, in 1986, Lotus was sold to GM.

It was a vanity project really for the then GM chairman, Bob Eaton. But, quite soon, the bean-counters and shareholders and everyone else realised that entrusting a small, boutique sports car company to the biggest car firm in the world would be like United Biscuits taking over Prince Charles's shortbread operations.

So, six years later, Lotus was flogged to a company in Luxembourg which was run by a chap called Romano Artioli. He commissioned a new car, named it after his grand-daughter Elisa. And then went bust.

So along came Proton who seem to have invested the grand total of £0. They kept on making the Elise in various guises until it started to feel old-fashioned and a bit rubbish. Then they kept making it some more. And then they employed Dany Bahar who'd been senior vice president (small cog) at Ferrari's aftershave division who said that he would take Proton's £0 investment and use it to turn Lotus into the best and biggest sports car company, with lots of exciting new models, all of which would be better than any Ferrari. He was suspended and then dismissed.

Now, Lotus is run by a company called DRB-Hicom. Which doesn't sound very romantic. The original Lotus Sevens are now made by an outfit whose F1 car turns up at the track every other weekend to come last. And then there's the actual Lotus F1 car which isn't a Lotus at all.

So. To recap. Lotus was mismanaged from Day One by an endless succession of owners who didn't know what on Earth to do with it. People who used it as a tax dodge. Enthusiasts. Massive corporations.

All lured into the web by some piece of engineering cleverness in the Fifties. And then all spat out again by the harsh reality that image won't sustain an inferior product for very long.

Where have we heard that before? On the epitaph of every British car firm that's gone belly-up in the past few years. Take Austin. They made the Mini, and it was very clever. So they kept making it... for 40 bloody years. Then you have Land Rover, which, after the war, made a sturdy 4WD car. It, too, was very clever and they're still making the damn thing today.

When Lotus really was in trouble and really did need to scythe its way back to prosperity, what did it do? It built a new Elan. And what's it doing now? God knows. Not preparing to shock the world, that's for sure.

If VW was being run by the British, it would still be making the Beetle. If Citroen were based in Coventry, it'd still be churning out 2CVs. If Apple were a UK business, its computers would still be six-feet across. We seem to have made resting on our laurels a national pastime in this country, and I worry we are seeing the same sort of thing going on today at Aston Martin.

I like the current range. Everyone does. But I can sense when I drive the supposedly new Vanquish that it feels old-fashioned. Buzzy buttons don't completely mask the fact that it comes with a whiff of the 10-year-old DB9. This is no good. To survive these days, you need to find money so you can invest your way into the future.

Or you need an innovation so brilliant that buyers will come in droves anyway. You can't just bumble along in a red-phone-box state of mind saying: "But we've always done it this way." Or you'll end up like the London taxi.
post #10320 of 14508
See? Pretty good looking, if you ask me.

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