A Closer Look-2010 Lotus Evora
The open-top Elise was followed several years later by a closed-roof model called the Exige. While its sibling shared nearly identical mechanicals, it was fitted with a supercharged engine and additional sport tuning. The Elise and Exige were-and continue to be-genuine sports cars, but their small size and lack of amenities has kept the customer base very small.
In an effort to expand its product line, Lotus engineers set out to develop a new car-larger, more comfortable, and with 2+2 seating in a pinch. The performance benchmark would still be very high, but the all-new model would fill the sporty "touring car" void in the Lotus model range-and appeal to a larger customer base.
After a three-year development, the first Lotus Evora rolled into public view in the summer of 2008. The vehicle was larger than its Elise/Exige siblings, but still compactly packaged like a sports car (the Evora is roughly the same size and weight as a Porsche Cayman S).
Lotus has taken an interesting approach with the Evora's construction. Like the Elise/Exige, the new coupe uses extruded and bonded aluminum components for its chassis. However, the Evora has a central "tub" to which the front and rear subframes are bolted. This allows for easy (and less expensive) repairs in the event that the frame is damaged in an accident, Lotus says. The front subframe is aluminum, while the rear subframe (where the mid-mounted engine goes) is made from stronger steel. The body panels are all lightweight composite (plastic derivatives), and are either bolted or bonded to the chassis, depending on their location.
In the same manner as its siblings, the Evora also borrows an engine from Toyota. In this case, it is the 3.5-liter V-6 that is also shared with the Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry and Toyota Sienna minivan. When fitted under the hood of a Toyota, the engine is rated at 268 horsepower. However, Lotus installs its own engine management software (with a new redline) and squeezes 276 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from the powerplant.
According to Lotus, the Evora will sprint to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds toward a top speed of 162 mph. The lightweight chassis, combined with an efficient 6-cylinder engine, means the Evora earns EPA fuel-economy ratings of 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway-higher than nearly all of the other exotic sports cars in its class, according to the automaker.
Lotus has deliberately made its Evora much more comfortable than the Elise/Exige. The cabin is large enough to fit tall adults, and the rear seats can accommodate children, the company says. A small trunk is located at the rear of the Evora-big enough for a set of golf clubs. The interior features two standard "Recaro" sport seats, leather-lined dashboard and doors, and a flat-bottomed, forged magnesium steering wheel (to reduce the amount of rotating mass in the driver's hands). Convenience features such as power windows and door locks are standard, while navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a back-up camera are optional.
Lotus is planning on building just 2,000 Evora models in 2010-with only about 800 coming to North America.
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