Evora is Surprise Choice of Name for Vital New Lotus
By Andy Bannister
An all-new Lotus doesn’t exactly come along very often – less than once a decade, in fact – so let’s hope the Evora just unveiled at the London Motor Show is worth the wait.
The omens look good as the new model isn’t yet another derivative of the small Elise, like the Exige and Europa which help eke out Lotus’s current range. It is bigger, much more advanced and is set to appeal to a whole new group of customers.
The model has been years in the making and much “scooped” in the motoring press. Much of the recent interest has been over the closely-guarded secret of the car’s final name, reportedly chosen at the very last minute.
It’s taken as read that Lotus model names always start with an E. The car was known as Eagle during development but that name has been used by other companies and would be too difficult to trademark. Ethos and Exira are rumoured to have been the other choices.
For some reason, a revival of the well-regarded Esprit moniker wasn’t in the running, possibly because it is being reserved for an Evora spin-off.
Place names usually selected for cars tend to be glamorous resorts or locations with motor racing pedigrees. In fact, Evora is a particularly historic little city in south eastern Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s best known for its cathedral, so perhaps Lotus is hoping for divine approval.
The name certainly rolls off the tongue well enough, and the Evora takes the iconic British company back to a time when it made bigger GTs which – in theory at least – competed with the likes of Porsche. Those models of yesteryear included the legendary and very long-lived Esprit and the rather softer Excel.
At one time Lotus cars had an awful reputation for reliability, but things are much better nowadays thanks to the well-established link between Toyota and Lotus. Among the Japanese giant’s other components pressed into service on the new sports car are a six-speed gearbox.
Unlike the Elise, which is almost a track car and far from easy to get in and out of in a dignified way, the Evora has been designed to be a proper small grand tourer, although the emphasis is on light weight to give rival Porsches a run for their money.
The new car’s three-piece chassis uses Elise principles and is said to have performed extremely well in crash testing. It is a self-supporting, bonded and riveted structure that combines folded sheet aluminium and extrusions.
It will be the first really fast Lotus since the death of the Esprit V8 in 2004, with a top speed estimated at around 160mph.
Lotus, based in Norfolk in eastern England, has always punched above its weight in terms of reputation versus sales, but the Evora means a long-deserved expansion in production volume is in order, with ultimate sales of 2,000 annually on the cards.
Not many people know the British firm is owned by another automaker, in the unlikely form of Proton of Malaysia. Lotus engineering input has been applied to that company’s small cars like the Savvy and Gen-2, although in a low-key way.
Perhaps mercifully Proton has resisted the temptation of cashing in on its asset by applying the Lotus badge to a hotted up sporting Malaysian saloon. This is despite the precedent set by the likes of the Ford Lotus Cortina, Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and Vauxhall Lotus Carlton in previous decades.
Meanwhile, the first Evora customers are likely to have to wait until May next year before they can take delivery of their new car, priced at around £45,000 ($90,000).
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