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Tuesday 27th March 2012

PH Blog: why Lotus-Mansory makes sense

Mansory partnership perhaps not the final nail in the coffin of all we hold dear at Lotus



"It's been looming but, as of today - with the heaviest of hearts - Lotus Cars, you are dead to me. Gutted. Angry." This Tweet by our very own Chris Harris echoed the sentiments of a lot of PHers responding to our story yesterday about Lotus's partnership with Mansory.

This may be the rashest thing I've ever said but, humbly, I beg to differ.

The look on Garlick's face when I expressed this thought yesterday was a picture. I don't know if it was horror, disappointment, anger or shock. Maybe all of them. Frankly I feel a mixture of all of the above at myself!


But take a step back and, you know what, I don't think this is quite the death of all things held dear to 'proper' Lotus fans like us.

The case for the prosecution is pretty compelling though. Mansory is, after all, the embodiment of all things ugly in the world of automotive bling. Fine, there are people who want bronze carbon weave in their Veyrons or a gold grille on their bright purple Roller. But, I think it's safe to say, they're not the kind of people many of us want to be associated with.

They're especially not the kind of people a purist brand like Lotus should be associated with, or so the assumption goes. Especially after what Mansory did to the McLaren MP4-12C at Geneva, our man Harris getting some very filthy looks from folk on the stand after loudly expressing exactly what he thought about it on the press day.


And coming on top of Bahar-era Lotus's increasingly desperate attempts to flirt with celebrity, drop the whole 'add lightness' and motorsport heritage thing and generally embrace the uglier side of supercar culture, you can see why the word 'Mansory' could be viewed as the final nail in the coffin.

I went through exactly this thought process a year ago when I heard about the Mansory Evora concept. And then I saw it and I thought "blimey, you know, that doesn't actually look half bad." And it doesn't. Restraint isn't a word you usually associate with Mansory, but the addition of a few carbon bits really gave the Evora some welcome extra presence, while not detracting from the bits we do like.

Let's face it, there are few complaints about the way Lotuses drive. But while we praise the chassis engineering, Jim Clark heritage and steering feel until blue in the face still we still seem quick to dish out the 'smells of glue, stitching on the dash is a bit wonky, will probably break down, built by turnip farmers' stereotypes too.


Put bluntly, as good as Lotus is at making a car that goes and handles like nothing else it's the details that sometimes let the cars down. The kind of details that might make a Lotus-curious Porsche owner run from the showroom and back into the welcoming arms of a new Cayman or 911 before he's even had a chance to drive it and find out what the fuss is about.

Mansory hasn't been called in to change the way the Evora drives. Its expertise is in craftsmanship and quality, even if the way that's expressed isn't exactly to PH tastes. And it's an interesting role reversal that Lotus, whose reputation for chassis work has been called upon by many manufacturers over the years, has turned things on their head by looking for a bit of outside help to bring a bit of polish to the product. After all, it's not like Evoras have exactly been flying out of the showrooms as it is.


Drop the prejudice, forget the Mansory name and Swizz Beatz association for a moment and just look at the car. Yes, in the context of what's been going on at Lotus this tie-up sounds like an utter rejection of brand values we all hold dear. And there remains much of concern.

But you know what? This isn't the most worrying thing that's happened at Hethel in the past few years.

Dan

Dan Trent
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Stu_00

Original Poster:

1,529 posts

106 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
If they make money out of the rich to keep Lotus in business then bring it on!

I agree with the comments but they need to make some big money, and Elise/Exige drivers are not going to do that alone.

Hopefully after they make the money they will then perfect the V6 Exige and maybe put in a McLaren V8, that could be a nice British combo (Never going to happen...)

redsq01

11 posts

58 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Given that Mansory appear to have made a decent stab at making the Maclaren exciting as opposed to the blandest supercar on the road then they should have a stab at turning the Evora from a horrible blot on the landscape to a machine worthy of a 60K price tag.


Dodgey_Rog

1,865 posts

147 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Wow, nice to read somebody say something positive about Lotus for a change, we're a minority on PH it seems...?

Nice article.

sunsurfer

252 posts

68 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Hear hear, I agree absolutely. Anything which sells Loti is good and will lead to the development and continuation of this much loved marque.

Personal taste is subjective. I think we should be careful of inverted snobbery where anything 'bling' is bad.

For all the guys at Lotus - keep plugging away and I hope to buy your cars some day.

Craiglamuffin

270 posts

67 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Interesting to read the other side of the argument.

It may be simplistic, but for me the addition of Mansory makes the original brand values of purist simplicity null and void... I just can't accept them both. So if I no longer believe the original brand qualities apply, it just leaves these new ones, which I don't like.
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sisu

343 posts

60 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
But they made the Bentley GT Vitesse rosé? We want to see more Lotus cars on the roads, but we don't want to see Pink ones do we.

toppstuff

10,958 posts

134 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
I will try and explain why I am concerned about this development..

I guess I am an ideal potential buyer. Young enough to want a car like an Evora and maybe even able to afford one ! I am tuned into the narrative of established brands like Porsche, BMW etc and understand why people buy them.

As for Lotus, what does the brand mean to me?

Well, for me it represents interesting, technologically advanced sports cars that are pure and connected to the road. The Lotus brand is about simplicity - all of their best cars are simple, easy to understand and easy to appreciate.

The Lotus brand is also about motorsport. Lotus is about winning GP cars, JPS, Senna and De Angelis, Ronnie Petersen etc... Only the most stupid, ill-educated petrol head would fail to understand the amazing motorsport heritage of Lotus. And Lotus won GP's because they innovated in their car design.

Now this is where I think Lotus is going wrong, maybe taking the wrong direction.

Ferrari are an amazingly successful car company. They make product everyone wants. The Ferrari brand and its motorsport heritage are inseparable. You can still sense the spirit of Enzo Ferrari, you sense that if he were alive and a young man today he would totally "get" a car like the 430 Scuderia for example. The lineage is clear to see and easy to understand. This is why Ferrari is a successful brand.

Now lets look at Lotus.

Many people say that Lotus cannot survive by selling cars to the old bearded Lotus lovers of old. This is nonsense.

The main worry for me is that Lotus seems to be ignoring its heritage. Lotus seems to be trying to reach out to new customers who know nothing of the Lotus history, and they are doing this deliberately. This makes no sense - they may as well create a new car company with a new name, if they are ignoring the legacy and the bloodline of the past.

Lotus somehow needs to create an image that ties its past with its future. They are not doing a good job of this. The Mansory tie up is proof that in terms of marketing, the owners just don't understand what they have.

Lotus should, IMO,

1. Reference the past. Reference the fact that Lotus stands for chassis engineering that changed the world of motorsport and supplied the worlds finest GP drivers.

2. Show that just as in the past Lotus innovated and succeeded, it is still doing it now. Make it clear that a Lotus provides more "feel" for the road you are driving than other cars ( especially German ones ! ). Exploit the fact that as Porsche moves toward electronic, lifeless steering, a Lotus gives you a connection to the road. A connection that goes all the way back to Senna himself.

3. Lotus is not about bling. Lotus is about engineering. Lotus is about being clever. Lotus is about being the "thinking mans' Sports car. The fashion victim buying a car because of the bling and the bodykit is never going to be loyal to the Lotus brand, because they do not understand the brand anyway. Lotus should be pitching to a smarter customer than that.

Am I living in the past? No way. But Lotus should look to the future by understanding what already makes it special.

All this Mansory nonsense means nothing. It does not seem to fit at all to the Lotus brand values.

It is sad to see that Lotus management really do not understand their own company. They do not understand it at all.

We should be seeing clever marketing, referencing the clever , alternative thinking of Lotus cars. About feeling the road. About efficiency. About "feel" rather than bling. About Senna, not Swiss Beatz...

It is tragic that they don't see this...







Edited by toppstuff on Tuesday 27th March 12:26

The Danimal

177 posts

42 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Wo wo... hang on a minute. We can't have well thought out reasoned argument on here...

... what we want is web-based, scathing, anonymous, emotional reaction.

This isn't what the internet was invented for...

Ps. Nice article

MichelV

118 posts

39 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
I like that white one. Nice touch.

It must be hard being a "purist" car company. Most purists I know have no money to spent.

At the end of the day a company needs to make money. No point being loved by purists but hated by your bank manager.

Michel

Mr_Sukebe

172 posts

95 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
To add to the above.
IMO Lotus is about "function driving form" and plain and simple Value For Money.
Part of the reason that Lotus owners have put up with their slightly eclectic reliability issues is that the combine excellent engineering and do so at a price that has substantially undercut say Porsche.

So if you take say an Evora and add Mansory "appendiges" the suggestion is that they'll add nothing to it's driving ability and a lot to it's cost.
That's about as contradictory to "function driving form" and VFM as it's possible to get.
Let me put it another way, add 50% to the cost of an Evora and it's on dangerously close grounds to a good 911. Would you really take a blinged up Evora then?

This is just so wrong it's unbelievable.

The only background logic that I see is that Lotus are seriously concerned about making their car company look like a good investment opportunity and think that by suggesting a link to a "high profile" group, that it'll appeal to the elements of the stock market who've heard the name Mansory (because a client has one), and know absolutely jack about cars.

Scary scary stuff that Lotus have bothered to waste their management time getting involved in this. Surely they're be better placed actually getting their new cars to market, and in the meantime binning the "marketing expert" who's charged so much money to come up with this ridiculous idea.

cliffie

170 posts

105 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
"after all, the embodiment of all things ugly in the world of automotive bling"

Summed up in 14 words.

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
So basically your theory is that they're not using them as a design house, but as a contracted in quality control unit?

Oddball RS

1,452 posts

105 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
What i want from the new regime is a product, not someone who makes a noise (Can't bring myself to call it music) a Footballers styling house, and old models with new engines stuffed in, and re-engineered price tags.

As YET, i see nothing worthy of praise, whether that is for old school customers or the new money.

Noe

78 posts

170 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all

Why don't pistonheads have a vote system next to theses so called sensitive topics .....

Votes of

.... The association won't help

..... The association will add a touch of sparkle to lotus cars

..... Show me another car at the same price, I don't care

..... We're just moaners and usually write meaningless comments and can't afford a lotus or anything similar but keep bhing ( sorry have to add this. Haters will hate! )

How about that ?. Then, chis the man in the firing line with the hot tongue, can see where all the readers sway


Adds something to this seemingly hot and tender lotus topic


I for love lotus ... Have bought from new many, still have a well lover 2-11, but struggle to look at anything they have now ....

pthelazyjourno

1,625 posts

56 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Mr_Sukebe said:
To add to the above.
IMO Lotus is about "function driving form" and plain and simple Value For Money.
Part of the reason that Lotus owners have put up with their slightly eclectic reliability issues is that the combine excellent engineering and do so at a price that has substantially undercut say Porsche.

So if you take say an Evora and add Mansory "appendiges" the suggestion is that they'll add nothing to it's driving ability and a lot to it's cost.
That's about as contradictory to "function driving form" and VFM as it's possible to get.
Let me put it another way, add 50% to the cost of an Evora and it's on dangerously close grounds to a good 911. Would you really take a blinged up Evora then?

This is just so wrong it's unbelievable.

The only background logic that I see is that Lotus are seriously concerned about making their car company look like a good investment opportunity and think that by suggesting a link to a "high profile" group, that it'll appeal to the elements of the stock market who've heard the name Mansory (because a client has one), and know absolutely jack about cars.

Scary scary stuff that Lotus have bothered to waste their management time getting involved in this. Surely they're be better placed actually getting their new cars to market, and in the meantime binning the "marketing expert" who's charged so much money to come up with this ridiculous idea.
I wouldn't say that Lotus is about value for money.

Plenty of Esprit models were dicing with Ferraris in terms of price, and models like the Elan were hardly Ford Capri prices.

It was only with the Elise that things got properly affordable, and even while the S1 was still on sale, the special edition models were nudging £40k by the end of the 90s. That's a lot of money for what it is (certainly 12 years ago).

Some of the supercharged Exige models are comfortably in the £40s, Evoras for £50k, £60k, £70k - I don't think it's a brand that's necessarily synonymous with VFM.


wotnot

316 posts

61 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Whilst I can understand those Lotus supporters that say Lotus should play up their engineering prowess and history of innovation, lets not forget one overriding fact - it's a miracle they are still with us at all!
Lotus have lurched from crisis to crisis for years.
Renowned for their engineering expertise by car manufacturers around the world, 'Engineered by Lotus' has meant that someone wants their car to be taken seriously (admittedly difficult when applied to a Proton). However, Lotus have been utterly unsuccessful at being a stand alone car manufacturer.
They are the motoring equivalent of a micro-brewery, selling their special tipple to a very limited clientel.
Maybe it's time to turn the brand into one that people aspire to by bringing in some outside expertise. My only worry is, is Mansory the right 'expertise'? Presumably, time will tell.

GFWilliams

4,510 posts

94 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Good to see someone talk sense on PH, well done Dan smile I thought the thread on the other article was a load of rubbish tbh with everyone just jumping on the bandwagon that it was the end of Lotus.

I like the Mansory efforts on the Lotus, good luck to them.

Oddball RS

1,452 posts

105 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Noe said:
Why don't pistonheads have a vote system next to theses so called sensitive topics .....

Votes of

.... The association won't help

..... The association will add a touch of sparkle to lotus cars

..... Show me another car at the same price, I don't care

..... We're just moaners and usually write meaningless comments and can't afford a lotus or anything similar but keep bhing ( sorry have to add this. Haters will hate! )

How about that ?. Then, chis the man in the firing line with the hot tongue, can see where all the readers sway


Adds something to this seemingly hot and tender lotus topic


I for love lotus ... Have bought from new many, still have a well lover 2-11, but struggle to look at anything they have now ....
Eh? the last line doesn't seem to make any sense, and don't they still make the 2-11??

SleeperCell

5,591 posts

129 months

[news] 
Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
What is worse? This or a Lotus SUV (which every other sports car maker apparently need to build to make enough money to survive)?

HeMightBeBanned

218 posts

65 months

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Tuesday 27th March 2012 quote quote all
Good article. Too many people were too quick to jump on the Mansory / Lotus-bashing bandwagon and have a rant before engaging the brain. Instead, they should have got their arse out of their hands, put the prejudice aside for a minute and looked at the bigger picture. I'm particularly disappointed by Chris Harris' response.

Mansory have made the Evora look great. If they can help Lotus on the quality front, then all power to them. I want Lotus to succeed because I want to buy a new Esprit in a few years time. If developments like the Mansory tie-up help to shift more cars and grow the revenue figures, then great.
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