Such is the delight of joining this special unofficial owners club; Lotus owners know the shared feeling. The fizz of excitement when you walk outside and clap eyes on a little junior supercar, the anticipation when you turn the key and there’s the briefest moment before the speedo flickers with a curious buzz and then the engine catches (loudly) with a flare of revs.
But this time the experience has been a little different. Now it’s a brief prod of the starter button and no hesitation whatsoever. The drive is a revelation too. Gone is the crashy, camber-sensitive ride that meant on well travelled A or B roads I new the exact position of every bump, pothole and scar in the tarmac and where to steer around them. In its place is a supple, still firm, but controlled suspension that beckons you to exploit the road in maximum attack mode. Bumps that made my 1 series crash like a jackhammer now seem to be more pliantly adhered to – no more stupid run-flats – but equally no spare wheel.
I went to collect the car on Saturday and it was an instant hit with our 2 year old. Frankly he didn’t want to get out and was excitedly bashing and biffing every knob, button and switch he could find, scary given the slightly fragile nature of the interior, but it survived. The drive home from the dealer was both revealing and exciting. Even a 911 (996 Carrera 2 cab) driver and passenger slowed down to rubber-neck whilst I was taking it slow and steady in the first few miles. So, can I really live with this car on my commute every day?
The first ‘issue’ I’ve found is the lack of a comfortable place for my right leg when trying to maintain a constant speed down the motorway. It took some adjustment before I got comfortable. Luckily my route to work is mainly A and B roads and a fab 10 mile stretch of dual carriageway through Milton Keynes. The lack of driver aids felt odd at first too, I was momentarily confused that you had to actually had switch on the lights yourself and that the rear mirror remained dazzling when any 4×4 or van pulled up behind. Ah the joys of auto-everything on modern cars but then this is proper stripped back performance motoring – no power assistance here. And on the subject of performance – it’s even more stunning than I remembered from the test drive. Floor the throttle in most gears and it simply surges forward, with a nice kick when the variable cam changes somewhere mid rev range. In this car you can lose your licence in the time it takes to look down at the speedo and realise that you are already doing a ton (not supercar quick but plenty quick enough and without doubt the fastest road car I have ever driven). Country road overtaking is now easy, economical and over quickly.
Once home, I went through the usual ritual of transferring my stuff from the old steed, trying to work out the new radio controls and wondering, in this case, why the additional digital speedo was showing the speed in kmh not mph (according to the Lotus manual it is deliberate and can’t be altered – to help in continental driving, perhaps for the run down to Le Mans??). The ipod connection works a treat and the sound is pretty good considering the lack of noise insulation in the cabin. The first fill up was also simple and due to the small tank cheap; I expect to become more friendly with the local service station given the old car did 50mpg and this will be, a still reasonable, 30ish. Plus to boot I got loads of admiring glances as I stood there amongst the Transits and euro boxes – smugly pretending not to notice that I had a bright red sports car.
So the question remains – can you live with a Lotus everyday? Well after two days, the signs are good and I can’t stop smiling. It’s a pity then that the weather forecast is predicting snow by the weekend. Oops!