New mid-engined Lotus coupé targets Porsche and is key to the Hethel company's goal of 5000-plus sales a year
16 July 2008

Lotus, at last, is bound for the big time. On the 22 July at the London motor show, it will reveal this revolutionary £45,000, mid-engined, 2+2 coupé, called the Lotus Evora.

This is the car that Lotus believes will take it right to the heart of Porsche territory and transform Lotus Cars into the vibrant, 5000-cars-a-year manufacturing business that successive bosses have wanted for so long.

The 280bhp, 3.5-litre V6-powered coupé is being launched in both 2+2 and 2+0 forms. It takes Lotus back into the 170mph league it vacated when the Esprit ceased production in 2004.

Design

The new coupé’s wheelbase is just 275mm – around 13 inches – longer than that of the Elise, but into that space goes an extra 75mm of driver’s seat travel, a V6 engine instead of an in-line four and enough rear legroom for a 5ft-tall passenger.

Despite the fact that the overall length is 4344mm – 80mm shorter than a Porsche 911 – the safety structure waltzes through today’s toughest crash tests, and the boot can house a full set of golf clubs. “We set out to build a Tardis,” says Kimberley, “and I think we’ve succeeded.”

There’s nothing too radical about the interior, but it’s far classier and more comfortable than anything Lotus has done before. A key part of interior designer Anthony Bushell’s job has been searching out and negotiating with suppliers of prime-quality trim materials; Lotus is determined to convey longevity and class in the Evora interior. 

Body, chassis

The Evora chassis uses Elise principles; it’s a self-supporting, bonded and riveted structure that combines folded sheet aluminium and extrusions.

This time, however, it is made in three pieces. A rear structure houses the V6 engine and impressively compact double wishbone rear suspension. A bolt-on front structure carries the double wishbone front suspension and provides a crash structure, which has proved a huge success in crash testing.

The Evora suspension is the same ultra-modern assembly of forged aluminium wishbones, coil-over shock absorbers and specially designed uprights shown in Geneva earlier this year.

Some pretty extreme testing of the car at the Nürburgring has established, according to engineering director Roger Becker, that the car is already “a peach” to drive.

Engine, performance

Lotus has a close relationship with Toyota (which supplies its Elise engines) so it’s no surprise that the Evora uses a 3.5-litre, Toyota-sourced V6. The electronic engine controls are Lotus’s, however, allowing it to have a sportier-than-Camry character.

Again, there is scope for development (the cleverly packaged engine bay is believed to have room for a supercharger) but for now Lotus believes that 280bhp in a car weighing less than 1400kg car is enough. The engine drives through a Toyota six-speed transmission, but this isn’t a link that Toyota makes in its own cars, so Lotus has engineered the clutch and gearchange.

The car is usefully faster around a track, we hear, than key rivals such as Porsche’s Cayman S. We suggested 165-170mph as a top speed and a 0-60mph time in the five-second bracket, and no one disagreed. The car is also expected to be easier on fuel and produce less CO2 than £50,000 performance cars usually do.

The future

Lotus planners foresee an eight-year life for the Evora, and will launch a drophead version between two and three years into the car’s life. As with the Elise, there will be other versions of the car, which is even more versatile in its structure than its smaller sibling.

The Evora will be made on a new production line alongside the Elise at Hethel, at a volume of around 2000 a year. Assembly of fully fledged production models will start at the very end of this year, with a target for first customer delivery of 1 May 2009.

At that stage, according to Mike Kimberley, Lotus will have changed its centre of gravity completely, while staying entirely true to its principles.

 

Join the debate

Comments
17

16 July 2008

I am really not sure. I am sure handling and ride will be the best or very close, so it is a given with an Elise based car. If the engine loses the lazy character of the Camry then it should be a great powerplant. The interior looks pretty cool, as long as it is well made then that should get a thumbs up too.

My only area of 'ummmness' is the styling. The front is pretty striking but the back just looks like a fatter Elise, and the sides are a bit bangle. I think for the styling I need to see it in the metal but it looks promising. I think Lotus will need to put a lot of effort into getting this car seen in the far east, as they are not going to sell too many in a recession hit USA and UK.

v8

16 July 2008

if they want to compete with Porsche thay need to sort out the water leaks and rattles, nice looking car though....

16 July 2008

Does anyone else have a problem with a £45K fibreglass car? A £20-25K Elise made out of old margerine cartons sounds feasible to me but if I was spending more money I think that I'd like steel, please, or even aluminium. Fibreglass just reminds me of all those old Lotuses which were really not too far away from being glorified kit cars.

I suppose the bottom line is whether they can convince enough potential 911/Cayman buyers to jump the fence and I think this might be tough, especially if we have a recession and people start making safer choices.

Quite nice looking though and I'm sure it will be great to drive.

v8

16 July 2008

[quote RobotBoogie]Does anyone else have a problem with a £45K fibreglass car?[/quote]

good point, why can they not use carbon fibre,

16 July 2008

Hmmm, cut me in half and you'll see Lotus in my blood. This year however I sold my Lotus Elise and bought a quite amazing Cayman S. It's safe, reliable, extremely well built, has a "Porsche" engine and last week the brakes saved me from getting involved in a multicar pile up on the motorway....so worth £47k then.

The Lotus does look like a bloated Elise and the interior looks great, BUT it is fibre glass and if anyone remembers the Eclat interiors were plush, but the glue it was stuck together with, was useless.

So in all this Lotus is a bloated, mini cab engined, plastic evolution of an Elise...for £45k!

hmmmm

if it's heavy, it ain't happenin' 

16 July 2008

Isn't this the way this sort of thing should be done:

http://www.artega.de/index.php?av=gb

16 July 2008

I don't get Lotus, they seem stuck between focused track cars and half baked road cars. What I mean by that is they used to provide what were very good comfortable road cars with all the mod cons of the time, I know reliability was sometimes and issue, now you don't get carpets.

This new car resembles a larger Elise. What wrong with differentiating between the models with a different look, but still being unmistakably Lotus.

16 July 2008

Doesn't look cool enough. In profile, it looks too tall, wheelbase looks too short, too much like an Elise. I'm confused. What is it? A development of the Elise into a longer, 2+2, or a new car? The original Espirit was a stunning car visually. And it's evolutionary models were still quite sensational. This just doesn't look spectacular enough. Oh. And it's fibreglass still. Hmmmm. Are we hoping for too much these days? As someone above pointed out, if Artega or whoever can do it..........

16 July 2008

I'm a bit confused on my verdict on this one.. I really wanna love it,but the styling isn't as special as I'd hoped it would be.

Like it was said , the front looks nice , the side not really that nice and the rear looks like yet another derivative of the Elise. While the elise is a lovely car , isn't this sypposed to show everyone how lotus is not mono-dimensional in terms of design?

Though I want to see it in the metal first , on first impressions I'll give it a 7/10 in terms of design.

However,(on the comparison above) to be fair, I think Lotus wanted to tap into the sales of the class with a car that was ride/handling oriented whilst Artega wanted to match Porsche in every aspect( handling/ride compromise as well as class,design and practicality).

UA

16 July 2008

I like everything about it. Except the weight. 1400kg? What happened to 'adding lightness'?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run