The Lotus Evora, unveiled at the British International Motor Show, represents an evolution for Lotus in the manufacture of exciting lightweight British sports cars. The Lotus Evora, greenlighted for production and a release in summer of 2009, has sports car fans worldwide marveling at its beautiful design and thrilling new technology.
The Lotus Evora is the first unveiling of several new sports car models coming from Group Lotus, known in recent years predominantly as the masters of the Lotus Elise and Exige series. True British sports cars that are unlike any other on the track while retaining some streetability, the Lotus Elise and Exige are criticized for being too harsh for most sports car enthusiasts. As daily drivers, Lotus’ current offerings appeal to only the most hardcore “driver’s car” types.
The Evora is a different breed of sports car from Lotus, to be sure. Employing a 2+2 seating design–though it should be said that the rear seat is toddler territory only–and with an interior full of ammenities, the Lotus Evora is a livable super lightweight sports car, that should carry over Lotus’ famous driving dynamics as well.
The Evora interior continues the total package of offering a hardcore British traditional sports car experience in a package that can still be driven to work every day. With tasteful leather and metal accents on every surface, the Lotus Evora interior is more luxury, less track racer. As a total package sports car slotted above the Lotus Elise and Exige, the Evora’s interior will comfortably accomodate adults up to 6 ft. 5 inches tall, Lotus says.
From the Group Lotus official news release, presented in its entirity below:
“Unlike recent Lotus products that use a race car inspired, technical minimalism, the Evora employs a softer approach that utilises premium quality materials and finishes to create a contemporary but luxurious ambience that is unique to Lotus products.”
The Evora’s base price? No word from Lotus yet, remember that this car won’t be available in showrooms for another year. As the Evora is considerably upmarket from the hardcore Elise, figure a base price of greater than $60,000 but considerably less than $100,000.
All the Evora details are presented below, hot off the presses direct from Lotus.
With its stunning visual impact, exhilarating all-round dynamic performance, innovative chassis technology and high levels of luxury, packaging and convenience, the Evora heralds an exciting new era for Lotus.
[Courtesy Group Lotus News Release]
The first all-new Lotus since the iconic Elise made its debut in 1995, The Evora enters the sports car market as currently the world’s only mid-engined 2+2. Powered by a Lotus-tuned 3.5-litre V6 engine producing 280 PS, and weighing just 1350 kg (prototype specification), the Evora promises breathtaking performance. During preliminary testing around the famous Nürburgring, the Lotus chassis engineers report that it is extremely agile and great fun to drive – even when clad with the full development disguise that hid the beautiful lines from the prying motor-industry paparazzi.
In addition to its excellent performance and exemplary handling, the Evora offers a more refined ownership experience than Lotus’s existing smaller four-cylinder models. Its elegantly styled cabin is elegantly trimmed and its equipment list includes contemporary features such as an advanced touch-screen multi-media system and electric power-fold door mirrors.
Because one of the roles of the Evora is to attract new customers to the Lotus brand, much attention has been paid to its ease of use. Wider, taller door apertures and narrower sills make getting in and out of the cabin a less athletic undertaking than it is in Lotus’s smaller sports cars (the Elise, Exige, Europa and 2-Eleven), while the design of the cabin itself will accommodate two 99th percentile (6ft 5in tall) American males in the front seats.
The ‘convenience factor’ of the Evora extends to less obvious areas of the car. For instance, beneath the skin the entire front-end structure is a high tech aluminium sacrificial modular unit, attached to the main extruded aluminium tub. This modular unit is designed to deform for maximum safety, and to reduce repair costs in the event of a frontal impact.
The Evora has been designed with global automotive regulations in mind, and future derivatives are planed, these including amongst others, a convertible.
The Evora will be hand crafted and built on a dedicated new assembly line within Lotus’s advanced manufacturing facility at Hethel in the east of England; capacity limitations will restrict production to approximately 2000 cars a year, ensuring the dynamic new sports car’s rarity and exclusivity.
Mike Kimberley, CEO of Group Lotus plc, has this to say about the exciting new model: “The Evora is the biggest milestone Lotus has achieved since the Elise was born 13 years ago and is part of our bold five year strategic plan, which includes the introduction of new cars and technologies to many more markets around the world. The Evora also represents Lotus core values of performance through light weight and efficiency and proves that you can have phenomenal performance, fuel efficiency elegant design and practicality all in a class leading mid-engine 2+2 sportscar, which will meet global safety and homologation standards”
Mike Kimberley continues, “Looking to the future, we will continue to research, develop and produce lighter, more efficient vehicles which are linked to our extensive and well-regarded work on all aspects of future fuels, alternative engines and electric and hybrid vehicle solutions for the future. We all have an environmental responsibility to future generations and the Evora is another example where Lotus is seen to make significant steps towards improving the efficiency and sustainability of the motorcar keeping Britain at the forefront of the high technology motor industry.”
THE EVORA IN DETAIL
Style or function? Have both…
Designed ‘in-house’ by Lotus Design, the sleek and athletic form uses fluid forms and crisp surfaces to communicate velocity, agility and sophistication. Low and wide with modern cab forward proportions, muscular rear haunches and function optimised hip air intakes this is clearly a serious mid engined sportscar that skilfully hides the practicality of its two plus two capability.
Russell Carr, Head of Lotus Design, led the Evora’s design team with Steven Crijns, Design Manager responsible for the exterior and Anthony Bushell, Senior Designer, responsible for the interior.
“A cornerstone of the design’s success was working closely with the technical team to develop a package that allowed us to get the proportions correct,” says Head of Design Russell Carr, “The asymmetric wheel sizes, the short rear overhang, long front overhang and cab forward visor screen all contribute to giving the car visual movement and an agile stance. This is incredibly important to us because we want the car’s aesthetics to communicate its driving characteristics”.
Lotus products have always embodied a perfect balance between form and function and the Evora successfully continues this heritage. “We never lost sight of the fact that, although this car must provide real world useability, sportscars are emotional purchases and that you have to seduce the customer through beguiling looks and exotic persona. We are, therefore, very proud that we have been able to use technical and user functionality to positively drive the design in key areas and create some of the car’s most distinctive features”. says Carr.
Ingress and egress, for example, dictated a minimal “step-over” to get into the Evora. We simply cut away the surface under the door and created a unique and dramatic piece of sculpture that enhances the stance of the car as well as its useability.
Elsewhere, aerodynamic considerations for drag, down force and cooling had significant but positive influence on the overall form and details such as air intakes. A desire to create balanced down force, that increases cornering performance, led to the adoption of, the now, “signature” top exit radiator vent, race car inspired diffuser and “floating rear wing”. Drag limitation, drove the dramatic tear-dropped cabin layout and the curvaceous plan view has given the car a more muscular rear shoulder and conveys a level of sophistication appropriate to this market segment.
“We believe that our designs should be honest as well as dramatic and so we are really pleased with the fact that these iconic features all do a real job” says Steven Crijns, Design Manager.
This inherent understanding of the relationship between the technical and the aesthetic paid dividends the first time a full-scale model of the Evora was wind-tunnel tested – only minimal adjustments were required to the car’s aerodynamic package to meet the targets for downforce and stability.
Steve Crijns continued, “Overall the design language shows a clear DNA link with its Lotus siblings, whilst establishing its own distinctive and contemporary theme. The undulating shoulder line is brilliantly mirrored in the lower part of the bodyside by the cut -away sill that creates a torseau-like muscularity.”
“The front three-quarter view is really powerful” Russell Carr continues, “Your eye is drawn effortlessly, from our signature mouth, rearward by fluid surfaces and fast lines that create a sense of speed even when the car is stationary. From this angle you can also see how dramatically the visor screen sweeps around the teardrop form of the cabin and the gently waisted plan shape perfectly accentuates the muscularity of the rear fender. This is unmistakeably mid engined language and the Evora is unmistakeably a Lotus.”
The view from the rear three-quarters is just as striking and the one that many will become familiar with as the car passes them on the road. The tapered cabin, diffuser, floating wing, centrally mounted twin tailpipes and distinctive engine bay vents all combine to create a completely unique look.
Moving right inside…
The design language of the interior reflects that of the exterior – simple, fluid surfaces, soft forms and crisp feature lines wrap around the cabin cosseting the occupants. Unlike recent Lotus products that use a race car inspired, technical minimalism, the Evora employs a softer approach that utilises premium quality materials and finishes to create a contemporary but luxurious ambience that is unique to Lotus products.
It is, according to Head of Lotus Design Russell Carr, “A huge departure from what people might expect based on Lotus’s recent past. We wanted the Evora’s cabin to feel special and to be surprising as well as sporty. Precision engineered metal inserts and quality edge-lit switches are brilliantly juxtaposed against soft hand-stitched leather surfaces to give a modern interior with a classic twist.”
Russell Carr continues, “The flat bottomed steering wheel, figure hugging sports seat, contemporary instrumentation and ergonomically positioned controls provide an intuitive environment that instantly forms a connection between driver and car ensuring that it becomes an extension of his or her body.”
Anthony Bushell Senior Designer explained about the choice of materials in the Evora’s interior, “Tactile quality is incredibly important within this segment and so we wanted the interior to use honest premium materials. Much of the switchgear is bespoke, and every metallic component is actually metal.”
Focused courtesy lighting is used throughout the interior, giving a spectacular illuminated feel to the sculpture design feature of the cabin. The extensive use of handcrafted, premium leather differentiates The Evora from other Lotus products and such is its importance to the character of the car that an entire new trim shop has been built at the Lotus Headquarters in the UK, dedicated to its production.
Even the entry level versions of the Evora will feature leather-upholstered seats, upper door trim panels and facia, but it is expected that most customers will opt for the full hide treatment. With a range of leather colours available, customers will have the opportunity to personalise their Evora.
Contemporary technology also features in the Evora’s cabin. A newly developed Alpine multi-media system with a 7 inch touch-screen provides advanced audio, satellite navigation, video, Bluetooth® hands-free telephone and iPod® connectivity functions; the screen also serves as a monitor for The Evora’s optional reversing camera. The satellite navigation element of the system is removable, allowing you to programme it from the comfort of your home, or take it with you to continue your journey in an unfamiliar pedestrian location.
The Alpine audio set-up is one of the most sophisticated automotive systems in the world. Called IMPRINT and using MultEQ sound enhancement technology, it is able to cancel out sound imbalances, caused by the cabin window glass, for instance, creating echoes, while carpets suppress mid-range frequencies – resulting in amazingly crisp, clear, undistorted sound reproduction wherever you are seated in the car.
A bespoke air-conditioning system developed by Bergstrom is standard on all models, and has been designed for the hottest climate or the closest humidity to help provide maximum occupant comfort. Lotus traction control and on-board tyre pressure monitoring will also be available.
One size fits all
The front seats themselves are very supportive and leather clad with a lightweight manual adjustment mechanism for fore and aft, rake and lumbar, designed to give a supported driving position.
The rear seats of 2+2 versions of the Evora -are intended for children and smaller adults. There will also be a two-seater derivative with a luggage shelf in the back. To maximise comfort in the rear, there’s a decent amount of foot-room under the seats in front, while both back seats feature ISOFIX mountings for secure child seat fitment.
When unoccupied, the rear seats provide a convenient stowage area, adding to the Evora’s appeal as an everyday car. The 160 litre boot, which ingeniously features a fresh air cooling system to reduce the effect of any heat ingress from the engine bay, will also accommodate a full set of golf clubs.
Easy in, easy out
With the Elise and its derivatives, the no-compromise character of the car makes getting in and out across a wide sill and through a comparatively narrow door/window aperture part of the charm of ownership. For the Evora and its remit for the serious daily driver, and to attract newcomers to the Lotus brand, greater convenience and practicality is provided.
As a consequence the sill is now lower and slimmer (80mm wide compared with 100mm in the Elise), and the whole door aperture taller. The doors open wider than on the Elise and its siblings, while the height of the front seat is raised by 65mm.
But while The Evora is undeniably more ‘lifestyle’ in respect of its everyday practicality, once you’re seated behind its flat-bottomed steering wheel, it feels every bit as exotic and sporting as you would expect a Lotus to be.
Safely does it
In common with the Elise and its derivatives, The Evora’s bonded extruded aluminium chassis tub has incredible inherent strength, particularly in regard to side impacts. Additional torsional strength is given to the whole structure by the tubular steel seatbelt anchorage frame that also acts as a rollover structure.
Deformable sacrificial aluminium front and steel rear subframe modules are attached to the tub using joints which are designed to minimise damage to the tub, protecting the main passenger cell in the event of an accident.
Driver and passenger airbags are standard. The airbag on the passenger side is cleverly engineered to deploy vertically and then be deflected rearwards by the windscreen, to provide protection for children as well as adults.
Anti-lock brakes are standard on all models, as is Lotus Traction Control (LTC); these systems have been specially developed in co-operation with Bosch and enable up and coming drivers to consistently exploit the braking and acceleration capabilities of the Evora, whilst allowing skilled enthusiasts the freedom to enjoy the full Lotus driving experience.