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Car reviews - Lotus - Evora - coupe range

Launch Story

Lotus logo15 Jan 2010

By LUCIANO PAOLINO

LOTUS has released its first new Lotus since the Elise ten years ago, the top-shelf Evora coupe.

Powered by a V6 engine for the first time, the Evora also represents Lotus’ first two-plus-two seating configuration since 1992.

Lotus unveiled its new premium model to the public in May last year at the London motor show, and it has finally arrived in Australia in a projected allotment of 30 to 40 cars for 2010, out of a total of 2000 Evoras to be built each year once production ramps up.

The Evora went under the development name Project Eagle and had a 27-month gestation period, with test mules racking up a total of 920,000 development kilometres.

The first prototype was built in late 2007, with traction testing done at the Bosch Lapland facility and wet handling at the UK Mira test facility. Brakes were developed using Italy’s renowned Stelvio Pass for testing, while hot-weather testing was done in Arizona and locally in Victoria.

At the heart of the new Lotus lies the Toyota-sourced 2GR-FE VVTi 3.5-litre V6, which in the Evora develops 206kW of power at 6400rpm and 350Nm of torque at 4700rpm.

While the main engine components are shipped in from Toyota, fuel, exhaust and clutch systems were all developed by Lotus. The ETCS-i Lotus throttle control unit is managed by a Lotus T6 engine management system, while a Lotus-developed AP Racing clutch and flywheel are used, along with a unique exhaust system.

Engine mounts are foam-filled to reduce engine yawing for improved handling.

The EA60 six-speed manual transmission originates from the Toyota’s Avensis diesel, with Lotus offering two sets of ratios – standard and optional sports ratios - the latter employing the same first and second gear ratios, but closer ratios for third to sixth.

No automatic transmission is available yet, but Lotus is developing a six-speed paddleshift self-shifter, which is due for release in 2011.

The Evora is capable of achieving a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 261km/h, with either set of gearbox ratios.

With the standard gear ratio set, the Evora will achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.7L/100km and C02 output of 205g/km or 9.2L/100km, and 224g/km with the Sports ratios.

The brakes comprise four-piston callipers with ventilated rotors (350mm diameter on the front and 332mm at the rear), which are also cross-drilled on the Sports Upgrade Pack. The braking package also features the supervision of ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and hydraulic brake assist.

Lotus says that under emergency breaking the Evora has achieved a 2.5-second, 36.8-metre stopping performance from 100km/h.

An electronic differential lock, traction control and stability control are standard, while steering is a hydraulic power-assisted set-up made by TRW and developed by Lotus.

Suspension is a lightweight forged aluminium double-wishbone design, with Eibach coil springs and Bilstein dampers tuned by Lotus ride and handling engineers.

Lotus developed the Evora dynamics with some assistance from Pirelli, which supplies Lotus with its P-Zero tyres for Evora.

The design is different to the Elise with a vaguely supercar look to it – the headlights and the fat haunches look a little like the exotic Italians, although the Lotus signature wide-mouth grille, bonnet vents and circular tail-lights are also strong themes. The sculpted new body has a drag coefficient of 0.33Cd.

The body is two times stiffer than that of the Elise's and uses Lotus’ first Low Volume Versatile Vehicle Structure, a chassis that will be used in other upcoming Lotus models.

While Lotus says the Evora chassis uses similar extruded and bonded aluminium technology to the Elise and variants, it has a completely different structure.

The Evora uses lightweight composite body panels bonded to the chassis, contributing stiffness to the safety cell around the cabin. At the front and rear of the cabin, composite clamshells are bolted to the chassis, which Lotus says enables easy removal for repair.

The chassis structure itself weighs a little more than 200kg, and features a front sub-frame made of extruded and bonded aluminium bolted to the main chassis tub.

Lotus learned lessons from the Elise body structure, where a heavy front-end crash could write-off a car as the chassis is a unified structure.

The new Evora chassis, with its replaceable front-end, makes it easy to change for repair, and is also designed as the deformable front crash structure.

Kerb weight is 1382kg.

One of the main issues some buyers have with the Elise is the difficulty of getting in and out of the car over the wide sill and the cramped quarters inside – and the limited seating capacity of two seats.

With the Evora, Lotus has attempted to allow those of a wider girth and or a lanky frame to get in and get comfortable. Lotus says it has designed the Evora to accommodate a 95th-percentile American man (186cm) in the front seats and a fifth-percentile American woman (152cm) in the back seats at the same time.

Isofix child-seat anchorage points are fitted in the two-plus-two version.

While the nose section is fixed, taken up with cooling vents and radiator (except for an opening hatch to access the windscreen washer reservoir and brake fluid reservoir), the rear hatch opens to reveal a 160-litre boot – which Lotus says can accommodate a set of golf clubs.

Dual-stage airbags and three-point pyrotechnic seatbelts for the driver and front passenger are fitted.

Highlights of the standard equipment list includes keyless entry with alarm and immobiliser, remote hatch locking, air-conditioning, a height-and-reach-adjustable steering wheel, Recaro black leather seats, heated/powered door mirrors, cast-alloy wheels (18-inch diameter front, 19-inch rear), an Alpine audio system with CD/MP3/WMA compatibility, auxilliary input and iPod docking.

The Evora is available with a number of stand-alone options and three option packages, including the Tech Upgrade Pack, Premium Upgrade Pack and Sport Upgrade Pack.

The Tech Upgrade Pack ($8200) consists of an Alpine multimedia interface including a seven-inch screen, eight-inch subwoofer, upgraded Alpine speakers, satellite-navigation and Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. The pack also includes cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring and rear parking sensors.

The Premium Upgrade Pack ($7900) comprises a full-leather interior in a choice of four colours: Paprika, Charcoal, Oyster or Chestnut. The pack also includes accent lighting and an armrest.

The Sport Upgrade Pack ($3095) has a switchable sports mode, titanium sports exhaust tailpipe, cross-drilled brake discs, black-painted brake callipers and an engine oil-cooler.

The switchable sports mode is activated via a sport button on the dash. It sharpens throttle response and increases the engine rev limit from 6500rpm to 7000rpm. Traction control is adjusted to permit an increased slip and yaw angle before activating, and it also removes the understeer recognition component of the stability control.

The launch edition cars will come with all the fruit, including the two-plus-two seating configuration, Tech Upgrade Pack, Premium Upgrade Pack, Sport Upgrade Pack and stand-alone options including bi-Xenon headlights ($1950) Alpine Imprint Audio System ($2350) Reversing Camera ($985) and electric/folding mirrors ($850).

The Launch Edition model comes in either Ardent Red or British Racing Green as standard, though a wide range of other colours are available at extra cost varying from $2400 to $6400.

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