Apologies in advance for the length of this post - i got to the end and realised i had got a bit carried away!
First a bit of context:
My Elise had a last minute reprieve just over 12 months ago when our second child was born. However i've been thinking about selling it more and more over the last couple of months. I've not driven it much more than about a dozen times during 2013, and half of those have been over to Burton to remedy its head gasket problems or a quick blast around the block to make sure the wheels still turn! The main problem being that i have been incredibly busy at work this year, and then i want to spend whatever free time i have with the kids, and giving my wife a bit of a breather. And to be honest i'm not sure that 2014 will be a lot better. I still love the way it drives, and the club runs and trackdays i've done have been great, but even when i just take it for a blast for a couple of hours i feel a little bit guilty that i'm not at home with the kids! I also have a problem that my wife really isn't keen on me taking the kids out in it as she doesn't think it is safe if we were to be involved in an accident (she is more concerned about being hit by someone else rather than lack of driver skill on my part - or so she says!). But, having had the Elise i don't think i could go back to having a "normal" car.
So i am now trying to think of something which fits the following requirements:
- sporty - handling as close to the Elise as possible as opposed to fast in a straight line
- at least a 2+2 so i can get the whole family in - this way we will use it more when we go out on day trips. Rear seats can be minimal as children are currently 3.5 and 1.5 and doesn't need masses of storage as we have a 3 series estate for that
- "safe" - my wife is a bit of a worrier and generally speaking anything that meets the "sporty" description will by default be seen as "unsafe" so this one represents a bit of challenge! I'm currently working on the basis that anything produced in the last 5 years will "be up to modern standards etc" so looking for something relatively new
Really keen for anyones thoughts but based on the above all i have really come up with is a GT86 or an Evora. Obviously there is a bit of a gap between these two in terms of prices new, but the early Evoras are sneaking under £30k and most used GT86s are low 20s so i can just about class them into the same bracket (using a bit of man maths obviously).
So, eventually, to the main purpose i started this post, today i testdrove the GT86. I have read up quite a bit about this car and it gets some very good reviews, but i must say i was more impressed than i thought i would be. It is an awful lot of fun to drive - not as much of an event as the Elise for sure, but fun none the less. It was a bit greasy on the roads today and the rear end was very "mobile" but always in a very controllable kind of way (and i am far from someone who spends a lot of time going sideways in the Lotus). The power delivery would take a bit of getting used to with all of the "go" seeming to come between about 5k and 7k revs, by which time my k-series has pretty much run out of puff. I found that initially i was changing up too early as a result, but once i cottoned on to holding each gear a bit longer it really started to move. My only slight concern is that whilst it was more than happy tootling about at lower revs, it did feel like it might get a bit bogged down if you suddenly put your foot down at 3k revs to overtake something. In reality i suspect it has pretty similar performance to my Elise, but given they are both NA they seem to deliver it in very different ways.
I was also impressed with the general styling of the car both inside and out. Inside it is a real step on from the MR2 roadster i owned (and thought was fantastic) before i got the Elise, although it is still some way behind the Germans in terms of quality of materials and design features. Oh, and i'm not sure whether i had the seat set really low, but i could not see any sign of where the front and back of the car was, but i'm sure you'd get used to that.
All in all, it has given me a really difficult decision to make - especially as they gave me a pretty good part ex quote on the Lotus.
Now just need to testdrive the Evora!