Lotus Damper Programme
Lotus Engineering sets about redefining the Esprit Suspension for 2006
Lotus' Spring & Damper Programme commenced in mid 2005 and was scheduled to cover Esprits from MY 1987 to 2004. Full details are on LEW. Lotus used my car as the development car for the S4 set-up.
The development work has done on both track and road and covered many different types of road surface, including motorway, A-roads, B-roads and the varying surfaces these can have. Lotus is recognised as world leading company in Ride & Handling and have years of experience in setting up road and track cars. I would not consider anything else for the car.
2. Belstein Dampers
The new dampers are made my Belstein. Lotus have been using Belstein dampers on their Elise/Exige cars and they are widely recognised as high quality units. Calibration changes have been made to the damper specification following extensive testing by the world famous Lotus Ride & Handling Engineers. The calibration brief was to produce a new 'Road' specification and not a specific track / handling package.
3. Eibach Dampers
The springs to be fitted to the dampers are manufactured by Eibach. They will also fit and the standard Lotus dampers. Meaning you'll be able to fit just the springs to your Esprit or the whole package. As far as I know the spring rates have not been changed.
My early S4 was not fitted with adjustable top links which means the rear camber could not be set to the optimum geometry. Adjustable top links were fitted on all Esprits from MY 95 on.
New top links and bushes were fitted so that the the geometry (see below) could be set perfectly.
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The geometry setup on the Esprit is very precise and the tolerances are very tight compared to most road cars. 4-wheel laser alignment equipment is required plus you need to have a range of shim plates in order to bring the suspension into specification.
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Front Geometry Specification
Rear Geometry Specification
The first thing I noticed is the ride quality, its much smoother and the suspension is much more capable of absorbing minor variations in the road better. During cornering the initial turn-in is much more precise. At high speeds, changes in direction seem more stable. In tight bends when the suspension loads it actually feels stiffer than the older setup , this feedback gives you more confidence. Somehow they have made the suspension more sporty when you want it, yet the car has less noise / vibration when just running along a normal road.