Many manufacturers express a desire to produce the world’s most powerful electric production car, however the new Lotus Evija is not playing games in this regard. It is the first electric Lotus. It is also the company’s first hypercar. And is set to cost from a cool £2m when production of the 130 examples begins in 2020.
This is not, Lotus assures, a cynical, pie-in-the-sky concept car designed to grab a few headlines and beat its rivals to the hyper-EV punch.
The Evija (that’s E-vi-ya) is also not intended to have Lotus founder Colin Chapman spinning in his grave, as while its 1,680kg target weight sounds dumpy next to a flyweight Elise, it should undercut much of the competition.
Rest assured, Chapman’s ‘simplify, then add lightness’ philosophy is alive and well at Lotus’ Hethel headquarters. Only now, with major investment from Chinese firm Geely – also owners of Volvo and Polestar – Lotus finally has the resources to deliver in a big way.
How big? Well, try a power output of 2,000PS (1,972bhp in old money), 1,700Nm of torque, and a staggering zero-to-186mph time of under nine seconds. That’s five seconds quicker than a Bugatti Chiron.
The Evija also ticks the usual supercar stat boxes of 0-62mph in under three seconds, a top speed of over 200mph and a target driving range of 250 miles on the WLTP cycle.
Developed in partnership with Formula E battery maker Williams Advanced Engineers, the Evija has four electric motors – two per axle, each with trick torque vectoring to shuffle power and braking between the four lightweight magnesium wheels. These motors are powered by a 70kWh, 680kg battery pack which doesn’t reside in the floor like a Tesla, but behind the two seats, where the engine would normally be.
This may have slightly compromised the centre of gravity, but meant Lotus could lower the floor, seating position and roof, shrink the ride height to 105mm and give its designers the space to carve out what may well be one of the most attractive supercars of the 21st century.
The Evija’s beauty comes as much from what is there as what isn’t, as Lotus seeks to give the body a degree of porosity, where large channels are removed to enhance airflow, thus boosting downforce and lowering drag. Nowhere is this more prominent than at the rear, where red LED brake lights frame the exits of two huge Venturi tunnels, reminiscent of a fighter jet’s afterburners and each illuminated from within by further LEDs.
Other concept car design flourishes we fervently hope make it to production include deployable cameras for wing mirrors, and how the T of the rear ‘Lotus’ nameplate doubles as a reversing light. For added drama (and less handle-induced drag) the powered dihedral doors are opened with a press of the keyfob. Returning to the car with your hands full of shopping will never be the same again – just don’t where you’re supposed to put it, as there’s no boot.
Lotus’ focus on negative space is continued on the inside. Perhaps the most striking example is a yawning void of what you could call ‘added lightness’ between the dashboard and bulkhead, while the central console cascades down the middle of the cabin, like a waterfall covered in touch-sensitive buttons laid out like honeycomb. Some may feel this button placement sides a little too strongly with form over function, but Lotus’s restraint in not using a distracting touchscreen in a vehicle described as ‘for the drivers’ should be noted.
That isn’t to say this is a cabin free of digital displays; there are three installed as replacements for conventional rearview mirrors (one in each door and a third centred above the windscreen), while a fourth sits behind the F1-style steering wheel.
And what a wheel it is, trimmed with carbonfibre and Alcantara, then festooned with tactile buttons and dials for indicators, phone, media, lights and driving modes. A red selector like the Manettino switch of a Ferrari lets the driver pick from Eco, City, Tour, Sport and Track, suggesting the Evija may be as at home in town and on the motorway as it is on country roads or race tracks.
The latter is an important point for Lotus, which wants to prove it has developed an electric drivetrain that can survive sustained high-performance driving without needing time to cool down. The company says there will be no performance drop-off for at least seven minutes in Track mode. This may not sound like much, but some of today’s quickest EVs struggle to perform at their best repeatedly.
As well as summoning up all 2,000 horsepower, Track mode engages the rear spoiler and F1-style DRS system for cutting drag on the straights and increasing top speed, brings a lap timer to the centre of the instrument display and supplements it with a G-metre.
It would be easy to dismiss the Evija as a stunt to push Lotus back into the limelight. But with its pockets freshly lined by Geely, this is a Lotus which can finally deliver on its promises – even ones of record-breaking electric hypercars. It could then, all being well, use the Evija as a launchpad for developing a whole new family of electric and hybrid sports cars – ones which will be significantly more affordable and, of course, lighter.
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