Cars like the McLaren Senna and Lamborghini Centenario have made aerodynamics out to be a bit of a dirty word in certain circles, haven’t they? I guess it all started with the Ferrari Enzo two decades ago; and I can remember the muttering even back then.
Quite plainly, a sizable and growing proportion of the people who buy the world’s highest-of-high-performance road cars don’t want them to look quite so aggressively purposeful as they have of late. Well, perhaps they won’t for much longer. Are we now in the ‘post-angry’ age of hypercar design? Have we progressed beyond the stage of simply putting ever bigger and bigger wings, splitters and diffusers on these outlandish machines? Of allowing their little winglets, ‘flics’ and protuberances to proliferate as freely as airborne pathogens at a busy wet market, just ‘because downforce’?
I, for one, hope so. And I’m admitting as much as someone who does appreciate the brutalist, anti-beautiful looks of the incredible Senna, I might add; but who finds the Speedtail so much more interesting to behold.
I’ve just had a happy and revealing hour contemplating the Lotus Evija while on the phone with Lotus’s head of aerodynamics, Richard Hill. This is a staggering car in all sorts of ways. If I’m lucky enough ever to drive one, I’m not sure I’ll have much brainpower left to assess how the aero on it might be working - what with almost 2000 torque-vectored horsepower to puzzle over first. I simply can’t fathom what that must feel like under your right foot.
“High-downforce hypercar design can be elegant and nuanced.” Quite apart from being one of Richard’s openers to me, that is also unquestionably what the looks of this all-electric, £2 million Lotus are declaring. “You can generate downforce more aggressively, with huge wings and splitters,” he goes on, “but you don’t have to. I don’t need a big wing on the back when the whole underbody of the car works just like one.”