Opinion : Lotus Evija – no thanks, we need a new Elise

Kudos to Lotus for finally launching a new car after what feels like decades of turmoil. Following on from endless (and still brilliant) servings of Elise- and Evora-based remixes, and then having to endure the Dany Bahar saga and its salty aftertaste, it’s good to see Hethel seemingly in safe hands and financially stable.

However, while new product is desperately needed, and I am sure that the Type 130 will be a typically-brilliant Lotus road car (you never know, they may even let me drive it), what I’m not entirely sure about is whether Lotus – or us – actually need it. Beyond that, I’m also confused by the thinking behind its launch. Having been to quite a number of motor shows recently for my day job, I have started to get a little battle-hardened (read cynical) about the term ‘electric hypercar’.

Take Geneva this year – ifelt like every other car launch was for an ‘all-electric supercar’ that would ‘transform your opinions on EVs forever’ (I paraphrase, but you get the idea). They littered the halls, they came thick and fast, all promising 0-60mph times of sub-three seconds and at least 400km on a single charge, and they felt completely irrelevant. Brilliant… So, to me at least, what Lotus seems to have done is just add another electric hypercar into what is already a rather crowded pool of contenders

It’s fast. Very fast. But what’s the point?

Reading the Type 13o’s performance and power figures is an exercise in incomprehension. Lotus says it will develop 1972bhp (that’s 2000hp to you metric types), and will accelerate from 0-60mph in less than three seconds, before passing 186mph in around nine, and on to a 200+mph maximum speed. It’ll be fast. So much so, I can’t actually imagine how it feels to accelerate that quickly. Painfully so, I guess.

Without trying to sound like a hopeless namedropper, I’ve done a Bugatti Veyron (216mph, if you must know), and given it the beans at the IDIADA test track in Spain – and wondered then why on earth you’d want more. Now, imagine driving that around the Home Counties. Exactly… Oh, yes – and the Evija is going to cost around two million quid depending on spec. Really? Is this what Lotus stands for? Next, it’ll be launching a ‘performance SUV’. Oh, wait…

I know what you’re thinking. I’m just an EV luddite, right? Wrong, I’ve run them day-in, day-out, and just come back from a very pleasant weekend in France aboard a Tesla Model S – and I can tell you that, with decent chargers, infrastructure and a real-world range above 300 miles, electric cars really are becoming a viable alternative. No, I just find the whole concept of this Lotus baffling and tiresome, and without sounding like an old fart, I can’t help but wonder what dear old Colin Chapman would think of the Evija.

What Lotus needs is a £30k EV sports car

If parent company Geely really wanted to make a statement of intent for Lotus, it should have slowed down Type 130’s introduction, and concentrated on bringing the next-generation Elise instead. Lots of people out there are close to being convinced by EVs (I’d possibly do a Model 3 if I were in the market), and perhaps what could tip the balance would be a light(ish) Lotus powered by something similar to Hyundai’s 64kWh battery pack/motor combo from the Kona Electric.

In that mid-sized SUV body, it’ll go 250+miles (easily) on a charge and get from 0-60 in less than 8.0 seconds. Imagine that with a few hundred kilos and two fewer seats to lug around. Lotus has the brains and talent to reinvent the small sports car via the medium of an affordable EV. But instead, it goes on and builds a car that few people will ever care about, and fewer will even see. And that’s a crying shame.

Of course, Lotus could well be already on the way to building such a thing (here’s hoping), so why spoil its EV pitch to the world with this monstrous irrelevance?

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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6 Comments

  1. The fastest I have driven is around 110 mph in a Range Rover. I’ve had no need to go faster. Am I missing something? What a waste of brain power; just think what those at Lotus could do if they put their minds to sensible ends. One might even become Minister of Transport……

  2. I suppose Tesla 1st tome around did an electric Elise and despite Clarkson’s best efforts it was well received.

    But I agree, with Geeley doing EV and Volvo Polstar as well they have access to a parts bin they could package into a second gen electric Elise.

    • An electric Caterham 7? That would be interesting… But that car in petrol form will always represent “The Prisoner” to me!

  3. There is currently one cheap sports car on the market, the MX5 and its Fiat clone. There is a very good reason for this, the cost of producing a modern sports car is so high that there is isn’t room in the market for multiple vehicles. Even the big manufactures, with huge parts bins, can’t make the numbers add up.

    There is noway Lotus can make a sub 30K sports economically viable, in the modern marketplace. The only way for a small car maker to survive is to make premium cars.

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