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Lotus' last combustion-engined sports car incoming

Evija inspired looks, Cayman price, due next year - here's what we know so far

By Matt Bird / Thursday, April 23, 2020

Only big news seems to come out of Lotus at the moment, what with the Geely investment in full swing. Now there's more, admittedly from Automotive News Europe rather than horse's mouth: an everyday sports car is coming from Lotus, and it's coming next year.

Which, potentially, could be massive. Because it's always been the Lotus problem, hasn't it? Delightful to drive, just wonderful in fact, but a bit of a pain when it comes to parallel parking, or seeing out the back, or enjoying music on a journey, or packing people and things into. We live in a world where you don't have to compromise on anything, really, and for the vast majority a Lotus probably feels like a little too much pain for not really enough gain. So a more user friendly (increased interior space is specifically cited) Hethel sports car really could hit the sweet spot, even if it's a lot easier to propose than achieve.

Lotus has plenty of history with the former. The Europa sort of attempted something similar more than a decade ago, and we all know where that ended up. But that doesn't make the prospect any less exciting because the thought of finding a Lotus badge - and all it stands for - attached to a well thought out and well-finished sports car is the stuff that enthusiast dreams are made of.

The sparse details provided are the result of an interview with CEO Phil Popham, and while the new sports car isn't named, it's said to take styling inspiration from the Evija and be priced between £55,000 and £100,000. There's lot of wiggle room there (are we talking Cayman rival, or 911?) but the link to Evija is very deliberate, given the halo effect Lotus is expecting to glean from its incoming hypercar. At present, Hethel makes 1,600 cars a year; the new volume sports car is intended to be the catalyst for a dramatic uplift in production towards factory capacity - somewhere in the region of 5,000 units. Popham also added that while an SUV or saloon isn't off the cars, sports car development will be the priority for now.

Oh yes, and one other thing: this new sports car is being reported as Lotus' last combustion-engined model. While unconfirmed, that would be a massive development. Although Lotus made good use of off-the-shelf units in recent history - the K Series, then Toyota 1.8 2ZZ/2ZR and 2GR-FE V6 most notably - engines like the old Esprit V8 and Twin Cam live long in the memory. There's also the question of sports car experience, post-combustion; anyone who's heard an Exige or Evora howl its way past 4,000rpm to the redline will surely contest that the engine, wherever it's from, is a big part of that Lotus experience.

What engine this new sports car will use we don't yet know, of course, given there isn't even a name confirmed. But the suggestion that it might be the last one relying (solely, perhaps) on suck-squeeze-bang-blow for its forward motion is believable, given Geely's commitment and expertise when it comes to electrified motoring. Even by 21st century Lotus standards, this sounds like being fairly major news, then. It isn't far off either: even with the impact of covid-19, we're told to expect the car late this year or early next.

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