A return to glory for the brand?
There was a time, mostly during the Roger Moore era, when James Bond’s car of choice was a Lotus, not an Aston Martin. In 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, he famously drove a white Lotus Esprit S1 that turned into a submarine, and in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only he had both white and bronze Lotus Esprit Turbos. These were the glory years for the British carmaker, as it also celebrated Formula 1 success, with Team Lotus taking both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in 1978 – for the sixth and seventh times respectively.
Fast forward to the present, and while the manufacturer is yet to return to the heady heights of its past, a change is on the horizon. New ownership at the hands of Geely, China’s third-largest carmaker, has resulted in a significant funding boost, the appointment of a new CEO, and the emergence of a car that is set to shine the spotlight on the Lotus factory once again. The vehicle in question is every bit as technologically-advanced as Bond’s swimming Esprit, but will actually be available to buy – it is called the Evija.
First, there is the small matter of pronunciation – this is the “E-vi-ya”. Then all you need to know is that it is a ludicrously-powerful electric hypercar, and the first to be made in the UK. Lotus is eyeing 2,000PS, or 1,972hp, which beats the 1,900hp promised by Italy’s all-electric Pininfarina Battista. It will make the Evija the world’s most powerful series production road car, and a triumph in precision engineering.
Expect a 0-62mph (0-100km/h) time of less than three seconds, and a top speed in excess of 200mph (320km/h). The ultra-lightweight, one-piece carbon-fibre monocoque shell makes the Evija the world’s lightest electric hypercar too, weighing in at just 1,680kg. It is also powered by the world’s fastest-charging battery, has a range of 250 miles (400km), and boasts five driving modes: Range, City, Tour, Sport and Track. Another important number is 130 – the amount of Evijas that Lotus intends to make.
A new dedicated onsite facility will be created at its Norfolk headquarters to hand-build the cars next year. This could well be a fresh start for Lotus. “The Evija is a car like no other,” confirms CEO Phil Popham. “It will re-establish our brand in the hearts and minds of sports car fans and on the global automotive stage, and pave the way for further visionary models. It has been developed with an unwavering passion to push boundaries, to explore new ways of thinking and to apply groundbreaking technologies.”
High praise indeed, but wholly understandable once you’ve set eyes on the car. Crouching low to the ground, with a ride height of just 105mm, the stance is both sleek and aggressive. The headlights, which are the first in the world to use laser-lighting technology for the main and dipped beams, are typical of the new advancements. Produced by Osram, these thin, vertical modules also house the directional indicators.
There is the dramatic Venturi tunnel too, which pierces each rear quarter, inspired by Le Mans racing cars. As Russell Carr, design director at Lotus, explains, “We studied how Le Mans race cars use air flow creatively to go over, under and around the vehicle, but also through it, leading to exceptional amounts of downforce.”
When viewed from the rear, each tunnel is edged with a red LED to create a ribbon-style light signature, inspired by the afterburners on a fighter jet, and there is an LED hidden within each to illuminate the insides. The directional indicators are incorporated into the corners of the ribbon, while the reversing light is provided by the illuminated ‘T’ of the ‘LOTUS’ wordmark above the integrated charging flap.
For those serious about racing the car, the rear spoiler moves up and down to help reduce drag. There are no door mirrors either for the same purpose, with cameras integrated into the front wings instead, and another in the roof, relaying their images to three interior screens. While it will be ultra-quiet at low speeds, a built-in speaker at the front of the Evija will alert pedestrians to its presence.
Sticking with the racing theme, the 2,000kW all-electric powertrain has been developed with Williams Advanced Engineering, famed for its success in Formula 1. The battery pack is mid-mounted behind the adjustable carbon-fibre racing seats, with Alcantara detailing, visible through the glass rear screen and supplying the four e-motors. It is said to be the lightest, most energy-dense electric power package ever fitted to a road car.
To jump inside, you first need to access the two handle-free, dihedral doors, opened via the key fob. A switch in the roof console closes the doors – a nod to the Lotus Esprit of the 1970s, which featured a roof-mounted control console. Once seated, you can then admire the multi-functional steering wheel, which sits in front of a digital display, used for providing key information.
Further controls are located on the sloping centre console, which features touch-sensitive haptic feedback buttons. Climate control and a premium infotainment system are fitted as standard, allowing smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the ability to record lap times and track sessions. There is also an onboard modem, allowing over-the-air software updates, and the monitoring and controlling of certain functions remotely.
High-performance suspension, a forged aluminium AP Racing braking system, and front and rear wheels measuring 20 and 21 inches respectively, featuring Pirelli Trofeo R tyres, complete the package. Prospective owners will also be able to personalise their cars, with different paint finishes, interior trims and detailing, as well as engraved metal elements that sit flush to the body. Once complete, you can then take your car to a range of Lotus events that will be exclusive to Evija owners, including VIP track days.
How do you get your hands on one? Thankfully, you don’t need to be an aspiring James Bond. You just need £1.7 million (AED7.59 million), plus duties and taxes, or a £250,000 (AED1.11 million) deposit to secure a production slot. For a chance at owning one of the most advanced cars on the road, however, is any price really too much?
The UAE retail partner of Lotus is Adamas Motors. In September, the Lotus Evija was brought to the Lotus Dubai showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road for a preview, and to Lotus Cars Abu Dhabi in Sheikha Salama Building, Zayed The First Street, Al Khalidiyah.