So would Colin Chapman have approved of the new Lotus Evora 400 announced today?
This car is more about adding than subtracting – power is up 50bhp, weight is down just 22kg – but still it is a ‘faster, lighter’ Lotus, it will lap the Hethel track six seconds quicker than the old Evora, and flat out it will hit 186mph.
So overall we reckon the guv’nor would give it the nod. Just.
There might be no Esprit in the line-up, or even in the crystal ball, but the Evora 400 is the supercar you build when you can’t build a new supercar. Needs must and all that.
You think it a bit familiar? What were you expecting, a brand new car, Dany Bahar style? No, this is far more a Continental reality check by the new boss, seasoned automotive exec Jean-Marc Gales, with the aim of having something new (ish) and exciting (undoubtedly) in production asap and actually earning a quid on it.
It’s actually more changed than you might imagine. Lotus says the car is two thirds new. That’s the new engine – same supercharged 3.5-litre V6 but upgraded with new chargecooler and other bits to give 400bhp at 7000rpm and 302lb ft from 3500rpm.
Crucially, the car should be okay for track days despite a revised exhaust system, now with a switch to turn on or off a ‘unique supercar soundtrack’. Look forward to hearing that.
Also new are the aluminium chassis, allowing for an improved interior, and styling details of the composite body.
Those last two facts are more significant than they might seem. The first means lower and narrower sills – an Evora that’s easier to get in and out of! – and the second brings tweaked aerodynamics that doubles the amount of downforce at 150mph (at just 32kg, the McLaren P1 has nothing to fear though).
Spring and damper settings have been revised to take advantage of the new aero, and the brakes have gone up a size. There’s a new limited slip diff but nothing fresh on the transmission front: either a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque converter automatic. Both are said to have been improved, the manual now with ‘greatly improved shift quality’.
Owners should notice the weight reduction on the road in extra responsiveness and agility, but not in any missing equipment. The car actually has a slightly higher spec than before (new high-end stereo is included) and the missing kilos are more the result of an unseen paring back: lighter engine mounts, forged alloy wheels (now with Michelin Pilot Super Sports), lightweight Sparco rather than Recaro seats and lighter rear seats.
As a manual the Evora 400 tips the scales unladen at 1415kg (the auto is 4kg more).
Lotus bills the car as its most powerful and fastest production car ever. That latter claim is thanks to its mighty 186mph top speed, a feat no Esprit managed; closest to it is in fact the 178mph Lotus Carlton! It’s not the quickest Lotus though. It’s 0-62mph time of 4.2secs is pipped by the 3.8secs of the Exige S.
To go with the supercar numbers, expect a supercar price tag when sales begin in the summer: around £72,000. That’s £10k more than the current Evora line-up which the 400 now replaces. No question it’s a lot of money for an Evora, but Lotus’s point is there’s nothing to touch it for cross-country speed that costs less than £100k.
With no all-new models likely in the near future, clever derivations like this really have to succeed. As ex Peugeot-Citroën boss Jean-Marc Gales says, ‘The Evora 400 will remain core to our product line up for many years to come.’
That’s French (or Luxembourgian!) for buy it or else!