Just spend the weekend in Lotus’s latest SE spec Europa. The last time I drove one was two years back, for our original road test.
Compared with the Elise/Exige’s high-revving Toyota engine, the Europa’s GM sourced powerplant is still short on pedigree but the SE’s upgrade (222bhp from 197bhp, and an extra 21lb ft of torque) boosts the performance nicely and now, with a more pronounced turbo kick, it’s a more enjoyable thing to use.
But the bigger success, in my opinion at least, is that the Europa now drives like a Lotus should. With larger wheels, bigger brakes and retuned springs and dampers, the Europa is altogether sharper, without being any less comfortable.
So am I a Europa convert? Not quite. If I wanted a hard-top Lotus I’d go for the Exige, and if I wanted something that drove as well, but with more refinement, I’d put my money into a Porsche Cayman 2.9. But that’s just me. For those that like the idea of a more usable, less obvious Lotus, the case for Europa now stacks up better than it ever did.