Wednesday 2nd December 2020
Car Enthusiast - click here to access the home page

 



First drive: Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.

First drive: Lotus Evora 414E prototype
Lotus explores the future with its range-extender Evora 414E prototype. We took it for a spin.

 



<< earlier review     later review >>

Reviews homepage -> Lotus reviews

| First Drive | Hethel, England | Lotus Evora 414E prototype |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

This is only phase two of the Lotus Evora 414E's development process, with more to come - including a stepped gearchange and HALOsonic sound synthesis (for both occupants and passers-by) - and on that basis the 414E is impressive indeed. It already offers Lotus-like performance - around corners as well as in a straight-line - looks great and returns some remarkable efficiency figures. The planned improvements mean we can hardly wait for phase three to hit the track and for us to get behind the wheel once again.

Key Facts

Model tested: Lotus Evora 414E prototype
Engine: 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol plus two electric motors
Transmission: single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door coupé
CO2 emissions: 55g/km
Range: 300 miles
Top speed: 133mph
0-60mph: 4.4 seconds
Power: 414hp
Torque: 500Nm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

If you like the regular Lotus Evora then chances are you'll be happy at the sight of the 414E - it is after all simply a development prototype beneath that already familiar mid-engined coupé body. Personally we think it looks great, especially finished in the two-tone treatment of this version that visually separates the roof from the body. Save for some decals on this particular test car (and the silent running at low speeds) there's nothing to tell this apart from any other.

It remains much the same inside as well - the biggest difference being the loss of the rear seats, which have made way for the battery pack. The dashboard is a familiar layout, though the surfaces are covered in Alcantara rather than leather, and the instruments now stop at 140mph - though they do use the same typeface as before. This prototype model has redundant paddles behind the wheel too, though it's expected that a production car would use these for a stepped transmission, and the centre console features the controls from the IPS automatic gearbox. Above that the satnav screen has been replaced with a multi-function display feeding information about the power split and regeneration characteristics back to the driver. Being a development car, full of sensors and extra components, this Evora does without a functioning boot - but a production model would reinstate the regular luggage area.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Chapman once said "The least number of parts effectively employed", so in many ways the silent running of this Evora fits entirely within the firm's founding mantra. Of course Colin was mainly referring to his cars being a fair bit lighter than the competition, but while the 414E is around 377kg heavier than a regular model Lotus is quick to point out that the Evora is a lightweight base to start with.

The end result on paper is a car that tips the scales at 1,759kg, but once on the road (or in our case the Hethel test track) any concerns about ballast are soon forgotten. Put simply, unless you were driving the 414E back to back with a petrol car you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference. Yes it feels a touch heavier at the rear, but thanks to the placement of the new components weight distribution remains close to that of a standard car, and turn-in is still pin sharp.

There's no noticeable body roll either, and while our short trip round the firm's (now) super smooth test track gave little away about the car's ride quality Lotus is famed for nailing the balance between comfort and handling with its sports cars. The steering is communicative and well-weighted, and accelerator response is sharp - especially when moving off from a standstill; the instant application of 500Nm making for a very quick getaway indeed. Lotus claims the 414E will sprint from 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and from the driver's seat there's no reason to dispute that figure.

When the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine kicks in to charge the batteries (it has no direct connection to the wheels), there's certainly some added noise to the proceedings - but Lotus assures us that the next phase of the project will up the refinement levels. There's no change in the rate of acceleration though, and save for the aural accompaniment there's no indication that the engine is running. In truth the completely linear speed increase, quick though it is, is actually one of the most disappointing aspects of the car; but again Lotus has the answer.

The next stage will see a virtual seven-speed transmission system, likely to momentarily interrupt the power delivery in a bid to mimic gearchanges, which should add some excitement and involvement to the proceedings. And with the HALOsonic system the 414E will have the sound to match, offering a range of futuristic or traditional engine notes, both inside and outside the cabin. What this short drive has proved is that the 414E is very much a Lotus, one that the doubters and naysayers should take seriously, and an indication as to how much fun an efficient an economical future could be.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

The 414E isn't strictly intended for production, and our Lotus spokesman would not be drawn on the possibility of such a car ever making it to market, so putting a price on the technology is rather difficult. However, the Evora 414E is part of a much bigger picture, created by Lotus Engineering rather than Lotus Cars, showcasing technology that is the result of a £19 million match-funded grant from the Technology Strategy Board. The system that is being developed can also be found under the bonnet of the forthcoming Infiniti Emerg-E supercar, while Jaguar is developing a range-extending XJ model. In that respect, some would say the £19 million looks to be good value. And if the Evora 414E did make production then the 55g/km CO2 output and 300-mile range would at least keep running costs low - even if the initial purchase price would likely be stratospheric.

Worth Noting

The 414E is packed with kit, almost too much to list; hence the classroom style introduction that we had to this car. Much of the development has been done in the virtual world, with over 3,000 scenarios run in the software to check what might happen in various circumstances. The firm has even 'driven' the car around its Hethel test track entirely on the computer, and found that the two 150kW motors (each one powering separate rear wheels) would allow the Evora to complete a lap without any steering input by varying the torque across the axle.

Summary

Our time with the 414E was short, and as such it's hard to give a definitive verdict on this revolutionary car. However, what our time with the Evora did show us is that Lotus Engineering is still very much at the top of its game - the 414E really is that impressive. Sports car packaging, performance and handling are mixed with an efficient and environmentally friendly drivetrain making for a complete package that even Chapman would have been proud of.


Graeme Lambert - 17 Oct 2012









  www.grouplotus.com    - Lotus road tests
- Lotus news
- Evora 414E images

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.



2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 

2012 Lotus Evora 414E prototype. Image by Lotus.
 






 

Internal links:   | Home | Privacy | Contact us | Archives | Follow Car Enthusiast on Twitter | Copyright 1999-2020 ©