Lotus engineers welded a roof panel on the Elise because, in their eyes, it wasn’t quite stiff enough. If you add the optional track pack to an Exige, an Amish horse-drawn carriage builder would complain about the ride quality. Each year, we take an Elise on our All-Stars test looping, and we go on to rave about how great it is and even give it an award. Then we realize that someone needs to drive the thing back to Michigan. The volunteer is usually given a pillow and maybe a few pats on the back for being courageous–the Elise, keep in mind, is the softer, more tolerable one. The idea of a light, stiff, mid-engined coupe seems like a great one until you’ve been listening to the buzz of a Toyota engine behind your head for hours on end. It’s enough to make a Buick seem appealing.
When the STI first hit U.S. streets a few years back, a radio was not on the list of standard features, nor was cruise control. Both are indications of a car that shouldn’t be expected to hit the road on cross-country road trip. Don’t get us wrong, we love the STI. We also love supermodels, but we don’t plan on showing one a ring any time soon. The STI has unsupportive seats (even compared to its Lancer Evo rival,) and even compared to a vintage bicycle, it has a stiff ride. Sure, it holds four or five people, but you’d have to find more than one person crazy enough to hit the road in your car for that to matter.