Evora S IPS Street & Track Review


Lets start with the elephant in the room – what possessed a person like me who has never owned a 4 seater car or any automatic go buy a 2+2 Evora Automatic? While I am a Lotus fan and had driven the original naturally aspirated Evora at launch, it just wasnt sufficiently different enough to switch over from my Elise. That changed when ScottW let me drive his beautiful GP Edition Evora S during the 2013 WCLM and I was just blown away. The car finally had the power to match its looks and the effortless acceleration made it a joy to drive on the highway. However since I already owned a fully depreciated Elise I still couldn’t justify the ~$90k that a new one was going for.

Fast forward to this year and as I getting more and more irritated by my sorry Dodge Hellcat saga I started keeping an eye on the used Evora market to see if the right car would pop up. In July a red 2013 Evora S IPS became available at a steal of a price and I seriously began to consider the car. A red IPS 2+2 was not my first choice (I’d prefer a Carbon Grey 2+0 manual with oyster interior) but with only ~450 Evora S in the country there was no guarantee that a manual in the right colour would ever be available, especially at the price this car was posted at. In the end I bought the car sight unseen and had it shipped to CA from FL.

I was happy to find that the car had only minor cosmetic issues and was basically as expected. I also had DietschWerks give it a quick once over and pronounce it as mechanically sound before making it my new daily driver.

On the Street
The Evora S is ~1100 lbs heavier than the Elise and while that is a significant number, it does not manifest itself as a lumbering weight on the road. Instead the car still feels nimble with the weight manifesting as a feeling of stability under acceleration and braking. If I didnt know the numbers I would have said that it was a 2500 lbs car instead of 3100 lbs. In return for this extra weight you do get a significantly upgraded interior that is a really nice place to be with every surface finished in leather. The car is quiet and comfortable and makes a fantastic grand tourer where you do not need earplugs for long drives.


The rear seats are essentially useless unless you have some headless double amputee friends you can stuff in the back. However they do make for excellent storage as does the trunk which is larger than the Elise and can even fit some folding chairs (I suspect it was designed to fit golf clubs). The practicality of the Evora is much higher than the Elise though you still cannot parallel park it due to the fragile and expensive bumpers.

2013_Lotus_Evora (2)

The power is fantastic and it is great fun to drive on street in a car with some real acceleration. The IPS gearbox is actually quite nice on the street as it is very good at quick downshifting in sport mode and just blowing past the traffic. In general the sport mode with the higher readline and more aggressive gearbox really makes a huge difference to the car and transforms it from a grand tourer to powerful sports car. All in all after 1000+ street miles I am very satisfied with the Evora S IPS as an comfortable but still fun daily driver.

At the Track
While the Evora S IPS is an amazing daily driver, I was very curious to see what it would be like to drive on the track so I took it to Laguna Seca to see whats what.


For the first session I started out in sport mode and let the gearbox stay in automatic mode. However this did not go so well as it seemed to upshift too early (6k) in some spots and actually hit the rev limiter in others (entering T10). After a couple of laps I got pretty frustrated with it and decided to use the paddles myself and see if I could get it to work any better. The first thing I tried was to try and time the upshifts to happen later in the rev range and used the first shift light (of 3) as my cue to pull the upshift paddle. However I found that the gearbox was too slow to respond and I would often hit the rev limiter despite having pulled the paddle in plenty of time. Similarly I was not sure of my downshift points which meant I would often be very low in the rev range and thus have very little power coming out of turns. Basically I absolutely hated the IPS gearbox and after much cursing pretty much decided that I would never be tracking this car again

However since this was only the first session and I had already paid for the day I decided to do session 2 exclusively with manual paddles. Plus having done a full session I now had a better idea of which gears I would be using and what my shift points would be. This time I started upshifting at either 6500 rpm or as soon as the first shift light illuminated which meant that I did not use the full 7200 rpm but I also did not keep hitting the limiter on the straight. I also started down shifting earlier in the braking zone more in line with where I’d shift in the manual Elise. After these changes the upshifts were still a little clunky (there is a distinct surge on upshift especially into 4th) but the downshifts became excellent and were much better than my decidedly average heel and toe skills.


After some thought I went out in session 3 and changed my driving style to suit the particular capabilities of the gearbox and the relatively long gearing. I became more aggressive with the downshifts and started going down to 2nd gear in T2, T5, T7, T10 and T11 whereas in the Elise I would only reach 2nd in T11. Additionally I started staying on the power and upshifting on the straights whereas in the Elise I would often not upshift just before a braking zone and would instead feather the throttle to hold off the redline. After these changes I was able to get in a bit of a rhythm and actually knocked out a 1:51 lap which is much faster than I expected on the 400 treadwear tires the car was on.


The chassis itself felt very settled and tended towards understeer while I was not able to get any power oversteer which is likely due to the open diff on the car. The balance of the car felt good and it really does encourage you to push it harder. The braking distance was ok and had a lot of tire squeal but I attribute that to the bad tires as well. I plan on getting some more aggressive street tires on the car and with some practice should hopefully be able to get around the 1:45 range.

So all in all I’d say that the Evora S IPS is a fantastic street car and an ok track car. While it can be pretty fast on track with a modified driving style, I’d suggest that you get a manual gearbox if plan on doing any serious track work. In may case the IPS going to be my daily driver and will only be pressed into track duty if the Elise has any issues.

I’ll close this post with a pic of all three Lotus together – its quite interesting to see the size differences between them.

WCM Ultralite and trailer for Sale

Starting a new lap @ Laguna Seca

After 6 glorious years of Seven ownership I am looking for a new owner to care for my 02 WCM Ultralite. The car is in great condition and is for sale only because I no longer have enough time to drive it as frequently as I should. This makes it the perfect opportunity for you to pick up a very fast, well sorted and most importantly reliable track car that is both 100% street legal and comfortable enough to be driven on the street.

The base specs of the WCM Ultralite are:

  • 1400 lbs
  • 240 hp Honda S2000 motor (F22C)
  • S2000 gearbox
  • Subaru differential
  • Wilwood brakes
  • 0-60: 3.5 sec (traction limited)
  • Fully adjustable independent suspension (camber, caster, toe)
  • Adjustable pedals to fit different drivers
  • Adjustable shocks

Entering the Corkscrew

Over the years I have made several significant improvements to car to make it both safer and more reliable as a track car. The following are just some of the things I have done:

While this list may appear very track focussed, they have also been made with an eye to keeping the car usable on the street. I have ~10,000 street miles on the car including a 2000 mile road trip to Seattle for the 2013 West Coast Lotus Meet

Required photo op

Additional spares/items included with the car

  • Spare differential
  • Extra adjustable shocks (softer than current)
  • SDS EM3 tuner
  • LiFe Balance charger for Lithium batteries
  • lightweight trailer

Included in the package is this lightweight custom trailer that specifically fits the Ultralite. With just an 11 foot bed and weighing an around 600 lbs, this trailer is the easiest way to get the Ultralite to events that are further away. With a combined weight for car + trailer of less that 2200 lbs, this trailer can be towed by most sedans and will not need a trailer brake controller or a 7-pin connector.

My first trailer trip

The Ultralite is also fantastic fun at autocross and is usually the fastest street driven car at most events. The video below is from me winning the top time of the day at the 2013 WCLM autocross. You can see some more videos on more open autocross courses here, here and here.

Current photographs of the car and trailer (scrollable, higher resolution on Flickr)
WCM Ultralite for Sale

The following is some video from a recent (July 6th) track day at Thunderhill West. This was its first track day in almost a year and it did not need any maintenance beyond a fluids and pressures check. Once at the track it did over a hundred miles in 100 degree weather with zero issues. Excuse the bad lines as it was my first day on Thunderhill West.

Location: Daly City, CA
Current mileage: 15,575 (will increase as I am still driving it)
Price: $27,000 (includes trailer and listed spares)

For more information about the car you can find my old blog posts about it here, while my Flickr account contains hundreds of pictures from the last five years. You can also contact me by leaving a comment on this blog post or by emailing ultralite@rahulnair.net.

Delphix Hackathon June 2015

For the past few years the Delphix Engineering team has been holding hackathons where all the engineers get together and build fun and interesting projects. They are held during our biannual Engineering Kickoffs and have the additional advantage of having the engineering team co-located in the same office. Our last hackathon was such a rousing success that we decided to try out our first distributed hackathon and additionally we went beyond just the engineering team and opened it up to the entire company.

The event was held two weeks ago and featured a glorious 24 hours of hacking where people from around the company collaborated to build a huge variety of things ranging from internal tools to customer facing products. Hackathons are a great way to get to know and work with folks you dont normally interact with and this one was no exception with several new employees and interns experiencing it for the first time. Being a distributed event meant that communication was an additional challenge as several of the teams were split across offices and even time zones. Slack was an extremely effective communication tool to keep in touch and setup great teamwork to solve any tricky problems that people ran into. In fact two of the hacks ended up being improvements to how we use Slack internally.

After a day of furious coding, the hackers put the finishing touches on their projects and presented them over Webex to both the participating hackers and judging panel comprising our CEO and other senior execs at the company. The creativity on display was amazing and this is just a partial list of the hacks that were presented:

  • Interactive company org charts using D3.js
  • Microsecond accuracy monitoring of TCP/IP connection latency
  • Automatically surfacing CVEs to the Delphix security team
  • Auto hotlinking bug mentions in Slack to JIRA
  • Automatically flagging failed tests with known bugs
  • A mobile HTML GUI for Delphix

Our judges had some really tough decisions to make and in the end awarded the following prizes:

CVE MonitorBest Internal Hack went to Aaron Garvey for the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Monitor which streamlines the process for keeping up with newly public vulnerabilities in the software we use. A scheduled task periodically checks a feed of new vulnerabilities, searching them to determine if they reference products or libraries Delphix uses. When a match is found, a notification describing the vulnerability appears in the slack channel, allowing people to further investigate the issue, and optionally create a bug in JIRA with a single click.

Best Customer Facing Hack was awarded to Sebastien Roy, Brandon Baker and Peter Washington for their TCP Connection Latency tool which allows you to measure network latency between a Delphix engine and its target hosts with microsecond accuracy. This allows us to quickly and easily diagnose any network issues that may be present.

Rahul Nair, Venkat Krishnamani and Simon Persson won the Audience Choice Award for their Mobile GUI for Delphix. It is a mobile optimized GUI that allows customers to monitor their Delphix Engines and perform simple operations (snapshot, rollback, etc…) directly from their phones without requiring computer access. The intention is to allow Sysadmins and DBAs to do lightweight monitoring of the engines without requiring a computer.
Hackathon Mobile GUI

All in all everyone had a great time and we have some fantastic new tools and features that were built in just 24 hours. Hackathons are a great tradition for the engineering team at Delphix and I expect that several of the hacks will impact both internal processes and our external product in the coming weeks. It was a pleasure to open this hackathon up to the entire company and it led to some good collaboration across the company. People are already looking forward to our next hackathon and planning the new and amazing things that they will build.

How to bungle a product launch – my Dodge Charger Hellcat story so far

Update: I cancelled my Hellcat order and bought an Evora S instead. The week after I cancelled Dodge announced that they were canceling all remaining 2015 Hellcat orders and that folks would have to find new dealers and get in line again for a 2016. Well Fuck You Dodge!!!

I’ve never been a fan of muscle cars!

Growing up in India I never got to see any in person and Top Gear was pretty much my only window to the automotive world. This meant that I skipped American cars and instead was always a fan of the european supercars and had posters of the Ferrari F40 and Lamborghini Diablo on my bedroom wall. After moving to the US I did begin to appreciate price to performance ratio of cars like the Mustang but was only ever interested in buying small lightweight sports cars (NB Miata and Elise) myself. All of that changed when I bought the Seven – while it weighs only 1400 lbs it does have 240 hp which gives it a power to weight ratio in excess of 375 hp per ton. Driving around on the street and passing people with the barest touch of the throttle finally made me understand the attraction of insanely overpowered family cars. An AMG or M sedan became something I really wanted but in the end I just could not justify spending $100k+ on a sedan that would be worth less than $40k in 10 years. I did come close to pulling the trigger on the 556hp CTS-V station wagon but in the end felt it didnt have enough space for the dogs in the back and we ended up buying a Ford Flex Ecoboost instead.

This order of things was shaken up when Dodge announced the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat in August 2014. Here was the chance to buy a 707hp 4 door sedan with a full factory warranty for just $65k. Plus looking at the existing prices on used Charger SRTs they appeared to hold their prices pretty well and I’d hopefully see a depreciation curve like the Elise where the prices drop for a while before they stabilize and then start inching up. The final push over the edge was provided by this wonderful review of the Challenger Hellcat by my buddy Jonny Lieberman:

Cruising through the rapidly gentrifying streets of downtown Los Angeles in a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat the other evening, I came upon a white Bentley. Some sort of Continental, and for the sake of rhetorical flourish, let’s assume she was a GT Speed. Fast car, no? What with 616 horsepower from a twin-turbo W-12, it ought to be. Yet all I could think while every single muscle and tendon in my right ankle suddenly went taught was, “Aw, poor Bentley! You’ve only got around 600 horsepower. Keep trying, little guy, you’ll get there.” A hair-trigger throttle and 707 hp do strange things to a man’s mind. Then I mashed the gas and, well friends, the smile’s still there. Strange things to a man’s face, too.

I started calling the various local Dodge dealers to see if they were taking deposits for the Charger Hellcat. I knew that the Hellcats (Challenger and Charger) were hotly anticipated cars but I was not expecting the level of slime I ran into at the dealers. Every singe dealer wanted me to “come in” and no one was willing to give me information over the phone. Request to be transferred to the sales manager were ignored while no one would disclose information about markups or the length of their waiting list. The dealers I physically visited wanted non-refundable deposits as well as a markup on a car whose price was yet to be announced.

After talking to all of these folks I felt like I had to take a shower and was ready to walk away from the Hellcat when someone on one of the Dodge forums mentioned Bob Fredericks as a fair dealer to talk to. He had a great reputation on the Challenger forums and even had Dodge make a custom run of 10 “Kowalski edition” Challengers to celebrate the movie Vanishing Point. I gave him a call and found that he was willing to answer my three main questions: is there a markup, how long is your waiting list and is the deposit refundable. He guaranteed me MSRP, I would be his first Charger HC order and the deposit was refundable till Dodge picked up the order. It was a pleasure to talk to someone who actually gave me straight answers and I ended up placing a deposit on Aug 28, 2014 and settled down to wait for Dodge to actually open the ordering process. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis on multiple occasions said that the Hellcats would not be limited production cars and that they would build as many orders as they received. I figured that even if it took a while, as the first person on Bob Fredericks Charger list I would eventually get the car I wanted at MSRP.

Dodge finally opened the Challenger Hellcat ordering process in the US on 9-Sept-14 and said that the car would start on an “allocation” basis with the initial spots decided based on the total number of Dodge cars sold by the dealer in the previous 180 days. This meant that the larger city dealers would be getting many more cars than the rural dealers and meant that people on lists at a smaller dealer might be in for a long wait. They also said that future allocations would then be based on the number of days the hellcats spent on the lot – this was supposed to help combat markups as the higher markup cars would sit on the lot for longer periods. In the end Dodge received over 5000 orders for the Challenger hellcat in the first month which was wildly over all their internal projections.

Since the Charger Hellcat ordering was not yet open, I kept an eye on the Challenger HC allocation process and while information on the process was thin on the ground, it looked like Bob Frederick was getting 1 Challenger HC per month which made me feel pretty good about being the first Charger HC on his list. After a couple of false start order day roumours in December orders for the US officially opened on 12-Jan-15 and Bob sent me a purchase order confirmation which showed my order config along with my build priority of #1 (sold order).

Now that my order was officially in I started spending much more time on the forums and found that a good number of the folks that ordered the Charger immediately got a VIN number as well as a scheduled build date while I was left dangling. That said I never expected to get the first car built so I settled down for what I figured would be a reasonably short wait as I was #1 on the list and a lot of people with Chargers appeared to be progressing quickly. Then on February 27th as the first Charger Hellcats were getting built, the official Chrysler blog had an interesting message that pissed of a huge number of people.

Gualberto Ranieri, Senior VP of Communications for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted an insane message that actually blamed dealers for taking too many orders:

Overall, our independently owned and operated Dodge dealers have been doing a great job managing Hellcat orders. However, a small number of dealers are engaging in a practice that is causing a customer relations issue for FCA US LLC and all of its dealers. Specifically, this handful of dealers appears to have accepted large numbers of SRT Hellcat orders without regard to available supply and without advising their customers that orders may not be filled, if at all, for many months or longer. We believe such a practice may constitute a breach of the Dealer’s Sales and Service Agreement with FCA US LLC and a violation of other applicable laws.

So according to Mr Ranieri, dealers have been taking too many orders for a car that Dodge has repeatedly said will not be in limited production and that they will make as many as people ask for. Additionally rather than wondering why people are flocking to a small number of dealers and trying to replicate they successful model, he instead is threatening some of the most trustworthy and respected Mopar dealers with legal action for being too good at their job. FCA must be the only company on earth where they yell at salesmen for being too good at their job – “Sorry Bob, you are flunking this course for being too far ahead of your peers”. And if they really did have an upper limit on how many cars a dealer should order, why the hell did they let dealers keep inputing orders? I may not work in enterprise ordering systems but I do know enough about computers to know that its not very difficult to put in a maximum limit on the number of things someone can order.

So in order to “fix” this ordering situation Dodge released the following flow chart on how to find out if your dealer has available allocation for a Hellcat:

While making customers navigate a flow chart to buy a car is a bad idea to begin with, this entire process has a few additional problems. The key pieces of info you need to use the chart are:

  1. Does the Dealer have a Hellcat in X-Stock?
  2. Does the Dealer have a Hellcat in C-KZ status?
  3. Did the dealer have a Hellcat in stock for over 5 days last month?
  4. Dealer rank by total Dodge sales (90 days)

Now you may have noticed that none of this information is publicly available to the customer on the street. Instead you have to ask the dealer and take their word for anything they say. Now of course car salesmen are known paragons of virtue and will never lie. For example the 3 salesmen at Stewart Dodge who in December told me that Dodge had not yet built any Hellcats and that the number of cars to be produced would be decided in January based purely on CAFE numbers. These wonderful gentlemen also wanted a $10k non-refundable deposit and would not tell me how many orders they had already taken. Rather than rewarding dealers who have larger order books (primarily due to their transparency and lack of markup), Dodge is instead dinging them for it and is rewarding slimeball dealers with cars despite the fact that no one is ordering from them.

Additionally having a single combined allocation list for both the Charger and the Challenger does not make any sense when the Charger allocations opened several months after the Challenger. I have the #1 Charger spot at my dealer, sent in a refundable deposit in August and got a VON on Jan 12. However this dealer also has several people that placed Challenger orders in November and now you expect him to decide which person gets that single allocation? It would not be fair to the Challenger folks waiting since September to do my car but its also not fair to penalize me for Dodge only allowing Charger HC orders in January.

In the end the blog post created a huge uproar in the various blogs, was picked up by several automotive magazines and sites and generally made Dodge look even worse than before. The comments on the blog post were universally negative and while the post is still up, insiders say that Dodge quickly realized that they had added gasoline to the fire and are working on yet another way to allocate the cars. That said it has been a month since the post and there have been no official updates from Dodge.

At this point I have been on the dealers waiting list with cash down for 213 days of which 76 days have been spent as a sold order in the Dodge computer system. Dodge has delivered over 350 Charger HCs already but at this point I have no idea if and when I will get a car on my own. The fact that my dealer is widely assumed to be one of the ones that the blog post has been aimed at has not made me feel any better while the complete radio silence from Dodge corporate is only adding to the frustration. I am no stranger to waiting for a custom built car – I waited 155 days to get my Elise but in that case both Lotus and my dealer were up front about the process and the expected delay. I am going to hang on for the moment but at this rate I might be better of joining a waitlist for the new Ford Focus RS as there is a decent chance that it might actually get here before my Hellcat.

The only good thing about this whole idiotic situation is that I finally have a valid use case for the following meme.

An update and posting elsewhere

Its been 13 months since my last post and I figure its time to give all 3 of my loyal readers and update on the goings-on:

  • I spent 14 months at Syntertainment building a great new mobile experience with Will Wright and his merry band.
  • In a moment of madness I signed up to be the chair of the 2014 West Coast Lotus Meet which will be held in Tahoe in October. I have been posting a lot of information about it on the GGLC blog.
  • The Seven has been surprisingly reliable with only a fuel pump failure in roughly 4000 miles and a half dozen track days. That said it did develop a misfire/surging throttle last week which I hope can be fixed by cleaning the throttle position sensor.
  • I signed up for the Polar Bear Blat which is a 16 day, 3800 mile drive from Vancouver to Alaska in August 2015. This will be in the Seven with 17 other Sevens.
  • I’ve joined Delphix as the first engineer on a new Vanguard Engineering team. Today was the end of my third week there and I have already posted my first blog post on the company blog: Docker Replication using Delphix Application Data.
  • I put down a pre-order deposit for Dodge Charger Hellcat. Never owned a Dodge or a even a sedan but 707 horsepower should make up for any shortcomings.

While I have been posting elsewhere recently I do plan on posting here more frequently especially after the mad rush of the WCLM concludes.