Currently reading: Greatest road tests ever: Lotus Europa S
When Lotus tried to make a GT from Elise underpinnings and failed miserably

The Lotus Europa coupé hoped to create a usable GT out of the hard-edged Lotus Elise roadster but fell woefully short of existing rivals in its new territory.

To the Elise’s extruded aluminium tub, double-wishbone suspension and mid-engined, rear-drive set-up, the fixed-head Europa added more wheelbase and boot space, bigger door apertures, a softer ride and a 2.0-litre GM turbo four-pot governed by a six-speed manual. In reality, it shared more with the Vauxhall VX220 than the Elise.

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Light, flowing steering remained, but potholes and bumps were more calmly dispatched and the engine was much less frantic than the Elise 111R’s Toyota unit. But levels of understeer and roll unfamiliar to Lotus owners and a lack of throttle-adjustable balance disappointed, as did the peaky, sometimes breathless powertrain. The gearbox was positive and light, though, and the brakes were superb.

Access to the cabin, which was familiarly rough of finish, was improved but still not easy, and although leg room was better, shoulder space was still restricted. Similarly, kit levels, boot usability and motorway refinement all bested the Elise but fell well short of rivals such as the Audi TT and Porsche Cayman.

For Performance, ride, unique driving experience

Against Price, beaten by rivals in too many important areas

What happened next

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In 2007, a £1250 luxury pack brought interior leather and a £1200 performance pack added an extra 25bhp (which cut 0.7sec from the 0-62mph time) and upgraded brakes. In 2008, the SE largely mimicked those upgrades and added other tweaks but it sold in tiny numbers before the model was axed in 2010. 

Factfile

Price £32,995 Engine 4 cyls in line, 1998cc, turbo, petrol Power 197bhp at 5400rpm Torque 200lb ft at 4200rpm 0-60mph 5.7sec 0-100mph 14.1sec Standing quarter mile 14.2sec at 100mph Top speed 143mph Economy 26.7mpg

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russ13b 1 August 2022

"but it sold in tiny numbers before the model was axed in 2010" - wasn't this only ever intended to sell in tiny numbers, using up a few hundred (500, if i remember correctly) unused VX220 engines that were sat in a warehouse? You can't complain about something not doing something it was never intended to do.