CHALK AND CHEESE. APPLES AND ORANGES. Night and day. Six things with more in common than the Nissan GT-R and Lotus Evora Sport 410. And yet, this odd couple make a compelling pair. For although their differences in approach are clear and numerous, key similarities are there if you care to look. While the respective outputs of their forced-induction V6s are wildly different, physics applies its own parity via the power-to-weight ratios. Each has a supercar-challenging top speed of 300km/h or more. Crucially, both cars offer an alternative take on established and more conventional rivals, with you – the driver – at the centre of their world. Continue reading “Nissan GT-R And Lotus Evora Sport 410: Same Purpose, Different Style”
Another harder, better, faster Lotus?
Based on last yeas revised Exige Sport 350, the Exige 380 has another 30bhp, race-spec aero and, somehow, a weight saving. That’s like making a superleggero F1 car. Or diet celery.
We say: Evora gets to join the Lotus lightweight greats – so long as you’re hard enough
I’m sure my English teacher once told me it’s poor form to bosh out a list early on in a piece of written work, but hopefully Mr Lennie will allow me this one. The Evora’s had some mega attention to detail lavished on it.
Beautiful herringbone weave carbon fibre drops 12kg from the rear deck, 2kg off the roof, 2kg off the front access panel, and so on. Stickers replace badges. The rear windows are now made of carbon. Take it from me, you won’t relish reverse-parking a 410 outside Harrods.
The glass partition between engine room and humans is now one pane thick, not two. Saves weight, and halves the insulation from the stupendous-sounding 3.5-litre supercharged V6, now developing 416bhp, up from 400 in the boggo Evora. Unlike those new turbo Caymans, here’s an engine that rewards revving, building smoothly instead of teasing with lag and then catapulting you directly into a speed awareness course.
Though the springs are carried over from the Evora 400, the fact they’re supporting a lighter car gives an effective increase in spring rate, and the result is a very busy ride on the road. A modern Porsche 911 GT3 is subtle in its track-readiness. The ultra-firm Lotus is not. No aircon or radio either – re-speccing that ballast costs $2,500.
There are bigger brakes that still wilt on track, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that don’t, a 5mm ride drop and more negative camber and toe-in. The lighter, re-engineered gearbox now has a delicious shift. And the praise list is only getting started.
When Lotus transformed the fun-but-flawed Evora into the altogether more rounded (albeit more expensive) Evora 400 last year, no stone was left unturned. As many as two thirds of its components were redesigned, or binned entirely, as excess weight was ruthlessly sought and destroyed. Turns out there was yet more potential lurking under the Hethel rockery though, because this, the most hardcore Evora yet, is a full 70kg lighter than the 400 – and an astonishing three seconds a lap faster around the factory test circuit.
Channelling the spirit of the old Esprit Sport 300 (the lightweight one with the natty decals), the Sport 410 gets a 10bhp power increase (hence the name) but the real story is what it’s lost, rather than gained. Borderline-obsessive mass trimming includes swapping not just body panels for carbonfibre but windows, too. The rear quarter glasses are now blanking panels, and the tailgate a stack of Venetian-blind louvres water-falling into a ducktail scallop. Balanced by a poutier front lip, that gives the 410 double the downforce of the Evora 400 at its 190mph(!) V-max. With further weight shaved from seats (-18kg), doors (-2kg), wheels (-7.2kg total) and even the badges (erm, -50g), the 410 has less meat on it than Jack Skellington.
Its target audience is clearly built the same way, as it features the thinnest seats I’ve ever seen in a car, road or race. Weighing a scant 6kg each, they’re the same carbon buckets Lotus builds for its Exige racing cars, albeit trimmed in a choice of leather or alcantara. The radio/nav unit is gone, replaced by what looks like the lid from a tin of boiled sweets, as is air-con and anywhere to rest your elbow in the thinned-out doorcards. You can option the infotainment and air-con back in at £2000 and £1500 respectively, on top of the £82k asking price. Which, there’s no denying, is Quite A Lot of money.
Worth it? Judged on driving thrills alone, yes. We drove the 410 on road and track, and on the latter it’s sublime. Surprisingly frisky under braking (its keenness to rotate no doubt helping it to that Exige-beating laptime), and still stuck with slightly awkwardly positioned pedals, but otherwise as friendly to drive quickly as it is exhilarating.
You can make it understeer, you can make it oversteer, or make it do both at the same time; the choice is yours.
Make no mistake, though, it’s a car for the committed sports car fan only. The Evora 400 has a supple ride at speed that would put many saloons to shame, but on Norfolk’s corrugated roads the 410’s firmer compression and rebound rates, combined with those wafer-thin seats, make it a much more uncompromising proposition. Minus much of the 400’s sound deadening it’s a noisy one too, but what a noise; unfettered by insulation, its supercharged V6 sounds better than ever – all the more so with optional titanium exhaust (-10kg).
Think of it as an Evora GT3, or Speciale, and it makes sense. If you’re willing to sacrifice seating comfort, Steve Wright in the Afternoon and a place to put your elbows at the altar of driving nirvana, you’ll like the Sport 410 very much.
Lotus Evora Sport 410
Faster than the 400, but at a cost
Hethel sharpens the Evora’s focus with a bit more power and a lot less weight
The Evora Sport 410 can be considered Lotus’s equivalent of a Ferrari Speciale model or a Porsche 911 GT3; indeed, that’s not our summation but that of Hethel, keen to assert just how focused this new Evora is.
To that end, the power gain – a modest l0bhp over the Evora 400 – is not the main talking point. The attention instead is focused on mass reduction and chassis set-up. So the Sport 410 weighs a significant 70kg less than the already lithe Evora 400 (now just 1280kg dry), with a titanium exhaust able to shed another 10kg for £5500. Lotus claims a ready-to-go weight (including all fluids and with a 90% fuel load) of 1325kg. That’s not a lot of mass for 410bhp to move around, with the resultant 309bhp per tonne power- to-weight ratio enough for a 4.0sec sprint to 60mph and 190mph flat out.
The weight saving has come through a myriad of measures, from the small (each door card panel is 2kg lighter) to the more significant (the one-piece carbonfibre tailgate contributes a 12kg reduction alone).
In addition to the reduced mass, the car also benefits from a 5mm drop in ride height, stiffer dampers, increased downforce and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Lotus claims a significant three-second advantage over the standard Evora 400 around its Hethel test track.
The Evora Sport 410 is everything driving enthusiasts love about Lotus – the poise, the involvement, the balance – made tangibly more thrilling but without losing sight of the standard Evora charm.
“The Evora’s extraordinary ability to flow along a B-road remains its standout quality”
Even below 30mph, the Sport 410 is working its magic. The steering has fluidity and feedback to shame every electric system out there, the new seats (each a 9kg saving) grab in all the right places and pedal weights are spot on. Immediately the Evora inspires confidence. It only improves with speed.
The Evora’s extraordinary ability to flow along a B-road remains its standout dynamic quality. The more aggressive set-up makes the ride busier, but the Sport 410 shrugs off the worst bumps in a way many rivals would struggle with; it is always unflustered, so you can concentrate on enjoying the experience.
The brakes want for nothing in either feel or performance, the manual gearbox is surprisingly slick and the engine is strong. Really strong, in fact, certainly keen enough to make good on those acceleration claims and sound superb in the process. With a supercharger instead of a turbo, throttle response is eager and made more so in Sport or Race modes. And with a flat torque curve from3500rpm almost to the limiter, it will pull hard in any gear.
On a circuit, the Sport 410 package comes together even better than on the road. Those suspension tweaks, combined with the super-sticky tyres and a limited-slip diff, give it exceptional composure. By adding carbonfibre further up the car, Lotus claims the centre of gravity is lowered by 12mm, and the Evora fairly scythes through the faster corners at the Hethel test track. Grip and traction are huge, but so involving are the controls, and so clear the messages fed back through them, that it’s never aloof. The opposite, in fact. As a road-going track day car, this has to rank with the best.
Other observations? This Evora feels like a better-built product than even recent Lotuses, which is encouraging. It’s the little details, such as the quality of the materials and the stitching, that stand out. Be absolutely sure on your spec, though. Neither an infotainment system nor air conditioning is standard; they are no-cost options, but they add 4.3kg and 8.5kg respectively.
If you value driving above all else and are fed up with how some car makers sell their track-focused models, the Sport 410 is glorious, melding fantastic outright speed with dynamic nuance and reward.
In a world that seems to prioritise multitudinous modes over a proper set-up, driving a car this entertaining with hydraulic power steering, passive dampers and conventional springs isn’t far off a revelation.
Sure, something like a Porsche 911 will prove a more amenable everyday car, but the Lotus is far from intolerable, even if the seats began to prove uncomfortable for this taller-than-average driver after a while. And while some may cringe at the prospect of an £80k-plus Lotus, it not only comfortably stands comparison with rivals at this price butwill also require no optional extras where many others will.
The Sport 410 is not the car to convince those unsure of Lotus’s methods, and some people will just buy a 911 regardless. Instead, this very special Evora shows off Lotus at its absolute best and, for those to whom that matters, that’s extremely good news indeed.
Lightest, fastest Evora yet is as well suited to the road as it is to the track. This is Lotus at its very best
Lotus Evora Sport 410
Engine: V6, 3456cc, supercharged, petrol
Power: 416bhp at 7000rpm
Torque: 302lb ft at 3500rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Kerb weight: 1325kg
Top speed: 100mph
Economy: 29.1mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 225g/km, 37%
Rivals: Porsche 911 Carrera, Nissan GT-R
The story is always the same. To respond at the requests for approval dictated by the FIA and so taking part in the GT championship, Lotus has produced a handful of much more extreme Elise than those we know today, it all happened between 1996 and 1997. The Lotus Elise GT1, partly unknown to most people, remains one of the most impressive and rare cars of the new generation ever built in Hethel – obviously based on the little Lotus, but with a more massive body and an engine able to put into trouble, especially in the racing version, famous names such as the Porsche 911 GT1 and the Mercedes CLK GTR.
We can almost call it an ancestor of the modern Hennessey Venom, because if Lotus used its own twin- turbo engine already seen on the “old” Esprit race car to power some models, some teams chose to stick in the engine compartment a massive and more powerful naturally aspirated Chevrolet V8. Like in all the stories that smell of tarmac and curbs there is not always a happy ending, but there’s what connects such major projects with the innate ambition and dedication of those who see far and wants to leave their mark in the automotive world, at all costs.
It all begins at the dawn of the 1997 FIA GT- 1 Season, with Porsche and Mercedes that guaranteed a place on the grid with their new competition models and Lotus who abandons the Esprit GT1 and decided to focus on the new two-seater just put into production. The Elise GT1, also called Type-115 is a far cry from the small sports car from Hethel, since the step is hugely stretched and the body is much wider and lower, only recalling the salient features of the street legal Elise in order to give to potential customers and to the public a way to link the ambitious racing car to the current production model.
Its virtual performance were extremely close to the real ones, because with just under 1.000kg of weight it, had a 350hp V8 available shouting up to 6500 rpm and pushing up to 320 per hour, admitted that you had the courage to push yourself so far.
The car body is entirely made of carbon fiber and the engine that is connected to a sequential Hewland 6-speed box is just the 3.8 twin-turbo V8 of the obsolete Esprit GT1. Reliability problems led a difficult pre-season testing period to make upper floors think to opt for the Chevrolet V8 of the ZR-1, a naturally aspirated 5.7cc on which Lotus itself was able to work during the period when it was under ownership of General Motors and in which the Team GT1 Lotus Racing Team pour their hopes.
The Championships debut was not at all lucky, because the four Elise GT1 that left the grid did not finished the Hockenheim GP due to engine problems. The following race, another disappointment – only at the third Grand Prix, the only fielded car managed to snatch a fifth place at the checkered flag, in that of Helsinki. Unfortunately this was the best episode collected by the Elise GT1 in the racing world, and after other unsuccessful attempts the team was forced to withdraw for incessant reliability issues, with the consequential fact that private teams have been forced to opt for better cars mechanically much more up to the task.
So it might seem strange to define the Elise GT1 as a cult supercar, but racing is like that – you win and you lose, certainly there is no forgiveness for any mistake. But what has allowed this particular Lotus to carve out a place in the Olympus of the most loved supercars by fans, especially those purists who do not care about sports scores, it is the fact that it was almost a trampoline (albeit niche) launch to put a more generous engine than you would expect, in a pretty small and very light car. The Hennessey Venom of late 90s, right? Lotus with the latest Exige has once again fitted a 3.5 supercharged V6 thus combining the maneuverability of a rigid and lightweight chassis, with the power of an engine worthy of being called such.
The Elise, which this year celebrates an important anniversary (20 years) should be celebrated every day for the fact that offers fun in abundance and emotions and sensations that few other cars are able to offer. Imitated and copied by many, it is one of the few cars that can pull off a direct and intimate handling with the road surface, without the need for expensive engines to maintain or quench. And tell me if you do not remember the Elise GT1 in the “Need for Speed” video game?
Its virtual performance were extremely close to the real ones, because with just under 1.000kg of weight it, had a 350hp V8 available shouting up to 6500 rpm and pushing up to 320 per hour, admitted that you had the courage to push yourself so far. Who knows how many were left, who knows where and who knows what a pleasure for their greedy owners – because it is easier to see a UFO landing on the Colosseum – while opening the garage door and see their track beast that was unable to bite the curbs as it wanted and deserved. But it surely managed to leave an important mark, a legacy that Mr. Hennessey has succeeded in collecting, in his own way, in the right way, several years later.
The Lotus Elan ranks as one of the best handling cars of its era. But not only was it among the most poised cars money could buy, it was also a thing of beauty. Conceived by engineering genius Colin Chapman to replace the race-bred Lotus 7, the Elan sat on a steel backbone chassis, clothed in a slippery fiberglass body, and powered by a 1600cc Ford twin-cam engine.
If ever a car was a brand landmark, this is it. The Elite was the first Lotus designed for road use rather than outright racing, paving the way for a string of stunning sports and GT cars that, at the least, were always innovative. But the first Elite was much more than that. Its all-fiberglass construction—chassis as well as body—was a bold departure that, coupled with many other innovations, marked the Elite as truly exceptional, and all the more so considering the small-scale operation that created it.
The Lotus Exige Sport 350 is a concrete manifestation of a “diet” car.
Peeps, from now on a diet programme needs to be applied not only to humans but also to a car. The Lotus Exige Sport 350 is a concrete manifestation of a “diet” car thanks to its special components, from the battery to the exhaust. Even the centre gear shift efficiently contributes to its weight saving.
The Exige — a chunky in-your-face coupe version of the successful Elise roadster — made its first appearance in 2000. This mid-engined sports car was powered by a tuned 1.8 litre Rover engine, replaced by a Toyota power plant when the Exige Series 2 came along in 2004. Development continued apace after the Exige was introduced to North America at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2006.
The Lotus philosophy is simple — build ’em light, fit a small but powerful engine, design a striking but efficient body, add an advanced suspension and braking package … then put it all together, sit back and watch sporting drivers having fun. And that, ladies and gentlemen of the road, is the case for the Lotus Elise. Continue reading “Lotus Elise – 1996”
Four years after the Vauxhall Carlton made its debut, the fearsome Lotus Carlton derivative smoked onto the scene. To the untutored eye, this looked pretty much like any other four-door Carlton saloon. But keener observers noted air intakes on the bonnet, a rear spoiler and wide wheel arches . . . plus discreet Lotus badging. Lotus Carltons came in Imperial Green only, a dark colour that looked almost black in most lights. Continue reading “Lotus Carlton – 1990”
The long-running success story that was the Esprit started as a production spin-off from a concept car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was among the first of his renowned `folded paper’ cars, a clean-lined, sharp-angled wedge in the forefront of fashion. Colin Chapman, with the luxury supercar market in mind, immediately snapped up the design for Lotus. When the Esprit first appeared in 1976 it was somewhat disparagingly labelled a ‘poor man’s Ferrari’ but it soon acquired snob appeal by appearing as James Bond’s vehicle in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) epitomising British seventies glamour — powerful, exclusive, stylish, and (not least) a lot more reliable than a Ferrari. Continue reading “Lotus Esprit – 1976”
The Lotus Elan roadster was a welcome debutant in 1962 — welcome to the manufacturer because it replaced the expensive-to-build Elite and welcomed by sporting drivers who appreciated performance-packed possibilities. It was even embraced by those who weren’t minted but could wield a mean spanner, as the Elan was initially offered in kit form like the successful Lotus Seven.
Although it was technically a variation on the Ford Cortina Mk I theme, the brilliant Ford Lotus Cortina deserves an entry all its own. This was one of the most interesting British saloon cars of the 1960s, making its debut in 1963 as the result of a partnership between Ford and Lotus Cars.
The maverick automotive genius of Britain’s Colin Chapman was in overdrive in 1957. For nearly ten years (including his RAF service) the engineering visionary had been refining increasingly successful versions of his super-lightweight sports race cars.
Its streamlined elegance flabbergasted the motoring world when it was unveiled at the London Earls Court Motor Show of 1957. The Lotus Elite’s fiberglass monocoque engineering was the very first combination of its kind. It was also the first ‘regular’, road going, production sports car created by the maverick engineering genius, Colin Chapman and his team, even if the first line-produced car was not made until mid-1958 (and bought, incidentally, by the celebrated jazz musician, Chris Barber).