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.
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.
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.