• Lotus Isn’t Planning Another Hypercar But a New Sports Car Is Coming in 2020 - Will It Be Electric, Though?

Earlier reports suggested that the new model will be based on a modified Evora platform

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Lotus’ first real hypercar, the all-electric Evija stunned enthusiasts and pundits alike last week and is a sign of things to come for the Geely-owned British sports car specialist. But, in the meantime, Lotus is also preparing to rejuvenate its otherwise dated lineup of more affordable sports cars. The new model, that will become its bread and butter in the following years, should arrive next year and pop up in showrooms by 2021. The big question, however, is this: will it be electric as we’ve heard in the past few months?

Taking a look through Lotus’ current catalog is akin to taking a trip down memory lane as you see old friends such as the Elise, the Exige, and, lastly, the Evora - the only one still available Stateside - soldiering on. It’s not uncommon for a low-volume manufacturer to push the envelope when it comes to keeping a model on life support before there’s an influx of capital that allows it to create something new but there’s no denying that the entire Lotus lineup is very much long in the tooth by now and in dire need of an update.

Lotus’ core business will remain $60,000 sports cars

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Lotus became a part of Geely over two years ago already and, since then, the Chinese giant that’s also helped Volvo bounce back from the doldrums has been working behind the scenes to ensure that Lotus will have a sound future. Apparently, as Lotus CEO Phil Popham explained, the Evija is just the first step towards resurgence. "If you want to make ripples, you have to make a splash," he told Autocar. So, with the waves well in place, what boat will ride on them - to use another superfluous metaphor?

Here, on TopSpeed.com, we’ve already spilled a bit of ink talking about the Evija, the company’s first genuine halo car. It’s a 1,973 horsepower all-electric hypercar that, when introduced, will become the most powerful EV of all time (pipping the Pininfarina Battista’s output by a healthy 96 horsepower). With those four (almost) 500 horsepower electric motors, each connected to a wheel, and 1,254 pound-feet of torque ready to twist 3,703 pounds-worth of car, many were impressed, but we weren’t really among them. We think, for starters, that a top speed of about 200 mph (according to Lotus) isn’t that impressive for a 2.1 million hypercar with almost 2,000 ponies on tap - yes, we know the trick up an EV’s sleeve has never been top speed, but still, the point stands.

Moreover, if you care about Lotus as we do, you can't help but look beyond the Evija and into the future because there's where you'll find the cars that the majority of Lotus owners will actually afford to purchase.
Lotus Isn't Planning Another Hypercar But a New Sports Car Is Coming in 2020 - Will It Be Electric, Though? Exterior
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We’ve already mentioned in another article that Lotus intends to start building its next sports car right after the final Evija (there’ll only be 130 in the world, and a build slot is $310,885 alone) rolls off the production line. But what do we really know about it? Truth be told, not much, but clues that have been dropped in the recent past help us link some of the dots.

In his discussion with Autocar, Popham told the British outlet that "the range of cars we have now runs from the mid £50,000s (about $68,000) to well over £100,000 (+$125,000), and we see our core future models, apart from our new Hypercar, as continuing to be in the that range." He added that all of this is mapped out in the company’s 10-year plan, ’Vision 80’, before pointing out that Lotus could, indeed, hit above its weight in the future too although that’s not going to happen anytime soon with anything other than the Evija.

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With the first part of this plan already revealed, the second is the company’s new sports car. Popham said that "we will have a combustion-powered sports car to show you towards the end of next year," before underlining that everything which follows this new model will be fully electrified with the distinct possibility of Lotus skipping the PHEV stepping stone altogether.

Of course, all of the products that are to be expected in this timeframe will not stray away from the motto of the Geely-backed plan, "’For the driver." Having said this, Lotus expects to massively expand its business and hopes to outgrow its current facility at Hethel that, Popham says, could build 10,000 cars in two shifts (in one shift, as it operates now, it can build up to 5,000 cars, but only 1,632 Lotus cars were shipped in 2018).

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So, in short, the new sports car won't be powered by electric motors connected to a battery pack, and it won't even be a hybrid.

However, it may resemble the Evija at least in some aspects as Lotus stated that the hypercar is "signals the start of a contemporary new design language," as design cues from the good-looking ground rocket are set to "evolve and reappear on future high-performance cars."

Popham’s latest claims contradict are in line with what we heard earlier in the year when the CEO stated that "all-electric cars are part of our future,” and, also, that “the next new car, which is coming quite quickly, won’t be all-electric – unlike the hypercar, which will." Talking about engines at the time, he let slip the possibility of an engine switch (Lotus currently fits its cars with Toyota-supplied units). "We will have access to powertrains that exist within the [Geely] group today and powertrains that are under development. But we’re not restricted to that. We’re very free to collaborate with, and source from, other manufacturers."

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While we don’t actually know much about the sports car that’s around the corner, we do know that it will be based on an enlarged version of the Evora’s underpinnings, making it the most practical Lotus in the British automaker’s small range. The car will thus be bigger on the outside and on the inside, and it will also be better equipped, safer, and built to higher standards than Lotus cars that preceded it.

For reference, the Evora, that's been around since 2008 and can still be purchased today - with an MSRP of $77,880 on top of the $1,850 destination charge.

The Evora 400, only version available in the U.S., can be optioned to cost over $123,000 - just $7,000 shy off the price of a brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT. The Evora 400, arguably the ultimate evolution of the model with redesigned bumpers and many other neat features such as 14.56-inch composite two-piece AP Racing brakes in the front, is powered by the same engine as the Evora S. The 3.5-liter V-6 cranks out 395 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque that allow the Evora 400 to sprint from naught to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds en route to a 186 mph top speed. By comparison, an Evora S brings to the table 55 fewer horsepower and doesn’t benefit from the exhaust, induction, supercharger, and ECU updates Lotus poured into the 400 back in 2015 when the model was first introduced in Europe. The Evora S is also 33 pounds heavier than the Evora 400. We reckon the new model will be about as heavy as the 400 although it will be bigger as Lotus is set to use exotic materials in the construction of the bodywork - and you’ll get more oomph!

What else is Lotus cooking?

2020 Lotus SUV High Resolution Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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That 10-year master plan we’ve been talking about includes some pretty outrageous moves that are supposed to make Lotus, the "70-year-old startup," as Popham called it, profitable again. The CEO basically told us back in March that we can expect anything from the brand in the future. "I wouldn’t discount anything," he said. "We’re a premium brand, not a volume brand, with premium products, premium price, and a premium offering. But as for the segments we can go into, I wouldn’t discount anything from sedans, GTs, and crossovers to SUVs." Apparently, the new platform that will be introduced further down the road will be friendly to a number of applications, not only the building of sports cars, so there’s that.

The purists and long-time fans can rest assured, however, that no crossing between the group’s other brands and Lotus will ever occur. In other words, you’ll never see a Volvo crossover being sold as a Lotus crossover. If such a car will appear - and Geely, who’ve invested $1.3 billion at Hethel, has this wish - it will have to "a) profitable, and b) can be called a true Lotus," according to Popham. The whole SUV-related talk is not new, and there have been recent reports that suggest it will actually happen but not on British soil.

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Geely Chief Technical Officer Feng Qingfeng, who also acts as the CEO of Group Lotus, said at the launch event of the Evija that "the manufacturing location depends on the local advantage. The UK is good at making hand-made cars, so sports and hypercars. In China, we may have more advantage in infrastructure for mass-production cars," he said. Popham offered clarifications on the situation of a potential second plant, saying, "it’s important to say that making cars in different locations wouldn’t change the DNA of the company."

What’s certain is that such a vehicle - outlined in the past when Lotus signed a joint-venture with Chinese company Goldstar Heavy Industrial - would open up the market for Lotus, a brand considered by its own CEO as one with "high awareness but low familiarity." This rings true in our year, after all, when did you last see a modern-day Lotus out on the road? Or any Lotus for that matter?

A mass-produced (or close to mass-produced) crossover that could be sold Stateside, a potentially very profitable market for Lotus, would definitely increase both the company's footprint and its visibility, both of which are much needed right now.
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"I want to get the people who test-drive a Lotus and a Porsche and say the Lotus is a better experience, but the Porsche is the safe choice," said Popham quoted by Car & Driver referring to the people that drive an Evora, enjoy the chassis, the steering input, the way the car behaves when driven hard, but go for a Porsche nonetheless because it makes much more sense from a financial standpoint as it’s the safer, bigger, and better equipped car at a similar price tag - a 992-generation 911 Carrera S starts at $113,000, about $10,000 below the most expensive Evora 400.

In the end, let’s wait and see if the new sports car will change people’s opinion on the brand. We’d sure love to see more people buying Lotus products but, on the other hand, a Lotus SUV or crossover is still a concept that’s pretty hard to digest but with Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini doing it already, it may just be that a mass-produced model will be what fuels the production of the fun sports cars we’ve come to expect from Lotus.

Further reading

Lotus Isn't Planning Another Hypercar But a New Sports Car Is Coming in 2020 - Will It Be Electric, Though? Exterior
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Did Lotus Just Rewrite The Book on All-Electric Supercars with the 2020 Evija?

2020 Lotus SUV High Resolution Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our full review on the 2020 Lotus SUV.

2018 Lotus Exige Sport 410 Interior Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Lotus Exige Sport 410.

2017 Lotus Exige Sport 380 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Exige Sport 380.

Source: Autocar

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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