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New distributor revises Lotus range

Rebirth: The Lotus range will be tweaked under its new Australian distributor, and it will include the new Evora 400.

Fresh Lotus models and price drops for Elise, Exige and Evora coming


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29 Jun 2016

LIGHTER and faster Lotus models will soon become available as Ateco Automotive’ s European Automotive Imports (EAI) hands distributorship of the British brand to Sydney’s Simply Sports Cars (SSC) dealership on July 1.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the Lotus Evora 400 at Wakefield Park, New South Wales, Simply Sports Cars director of sales and strategy Richard Gibbs admitted that “the market wasn’t thinking about Lotus anymore”, however he also maintained that fixes are on the way.

Detailing a three-year plan consisting of the introduction of new Elise, Exige and Evora model grades, a reinvigorated dealer network and expanded customer activities, Mr Gibbs said the brand could triple current sales volume.

“We won’t turn it around overnight,” he said. “We won’t go from 51 (2015 annual sales) to 100 cars (but) maybe we go, should we be aiming for 70 cars next year, 50 per cent growth? And then again the year after that.

“We’re working to a three-year horizon. There is a lot of work to be done to make that brand known again in the market. If we could sustain 120 to 150 cars in the market each year, I would be over the moon.” Lotus recorded 48 sales in 2015 and has managed annual volume of between 53 and 71 units over the preceding seven years, following a high of 90 units in 2007.

Currently Lotus sales are portioned 40 per cent each for Elise and Exige, and 20 per cent Evora, however Mr Gibbs said he expects the Evora 400 and 410 that replace the Evora S, and the Exige Sport 350 that replaces the Exige S, to drive growth.

“In terms of percentage growth it will be a race between the Exige Sport 350 and the Evora 400,” he continued.

“With the bringing on of the 400 we’re hoping we’ll see a bit of a spike up of Evora sales … the Exige has been refined now with the Sport 350 and I think we can really leverage that.” The Evora 400 rises by between $4400 and $7400 compared with its Evora S predecessor, to $184,990 (six-speed manual) or $194,990 (six-speed automatic) plus on-road costs.

However a new supercharger gifts its Toyota-derived 3.5-litre V6 with an additional 40kW (now 298kW) and 10Nm (now 410Nm), and teamed with a 42kg weight reduction to 1395kg, reduces the 0-100km/h claim by a half-second to 4.2 seconds (manual or auto).

With only 150 units available worldwide, the Evora 410 will top the range for a limited time priced from $199,900 (manual) or $209,990 (auto).

The flagship saves a further 70kg over the Evora 400 thanks to a carbon-fibre bonnet, tailgate, roof and front splitter, a lithium-ion battery and carbon-fibre sports seats, and pushes power to 306kW. Only the automatic drops to a 4.1s 0-100km/h, however.

Mr Gibbs said the Evora 400 would target Porsche 911 Carrera and Jaguar F-Type R buyers, while the Evora 410 is “very much pitched against the Cayman GT4 and possibly even a 911 GT3”.

One rung below the Evora is the Exige Sport 350 that replaces the former Exige S with a nominal $1500 price rise to $134,500 for the six-speed manual or $139,990 for the six-speed automatic.

However with kerb weight reduced by 50kg (to 1125kg) the carry-over 258kW/400Nm 3.5-litre supercharged V6 helps the Exige Sport 350 to become the quickest Lotus in the range, with a 3.9s (manual) and 3.8s (auto) 0-100km/h, each falling by a tenth compared with the Exige S.

Lotus credits the savings to a louvered tailgate (3kg), redesigned gearshift mechanism (3kg), revised subframe (3kg) and new body panels (12 kg).

“I think realistically if you think what the Exige Sport 350 is it’s our most focused track car, so if you look across at other marques then people who might be looking at a Cayman GT4,” Mr Gibbs added.

Opening the Lotus range in Australia, the Elise Sport replaces the former entry Elise but is the least-changed model, retaining its $74,990 plus on-road costs pricetag, 100kW/160Nm 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission and 6.5s 0-100km/h.

Kerb weight of 866kg drops 10kg, however, mainly due to the addition of forged alloy wheels and a lightweight sports battery.

While the Elise Sport 220 successor to the Elise S sheds the same weight, the now-914kg model grade retains its $84,990 pricetag, 162kW/250Nm 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder, six-speed manual and 4.6s 0-100km/h.

The most sizeable price drop is reserved for the Elise Cup 250 that falls $15,000 to $104,990 compared with the Elise Cup 220 it supersedes.

This is despite a 19kW power upgrade to 181kW (from the same engine as the new Elise Sport 220) and a three-tenths-faster 4.6s 0-100km/h, although the six-speed manual-only model’s kerb weight rises 17kg to 931kg.

Lotus has recorded 22 sales in Australia to May 2016 compared with 28 sales over the same period last year. Mr Gibbs said hopes the brand is able to tally 50 sales by the end of the year.

2016 Lotus range*
Elise Sport $74,990
Elise Sport 220 $84,990
Elise Cup 250 $104,990
Exige Sport 350 $134,500
Exige Sport 350 (a) $139,990
Evora 400 $184,990
Evora 400 (a) $194,990
Evora Sport 410 $199,990
Evora Sport 410 (a) $209,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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