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Lotus Europa S

Broadcast date : 6th May 2007

Lotus is a name thatís not quite in the Ferrari league in terms of global recognition. But for a select breed of enthusiasts, Lotus means the most fun you can have with your driving gloves on.

A year ago the Lotus Europa was shown here for the first time. This is the flagship of the modern range and actually makes some concessions to creature-comfort.

That weapon in the rear is a European turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rather than the screaming naturally-aspirated engine found in the Elise. The idea is for a more relaxed ride.

The Opel Gsi motor gives the Europa strong performance, and up on the Reef its turbocharging means much quicker acceleration.

Despite the fact that it has improved cabin access thanks to low sills and a taller roof line, it still weighs in at under 1000 kilograms.

This means a 5,5 second 0-100 km/h sprint, and 225 km/h top speed.

Designing lower door-sills and adding more sophisticated interior panels was the Lotus solution to creating what it calls a Grand Tourer. They say itís a Business Class driving experience, which remains true to the companyís design philosophy.

Thatís all well and good for those who remember Lotus founder Colin Chapman wearing chrome sunglasses and a black John Lennon cap to go with his sideburns.

But in the modern parlance, the Lotusís interior is bare-bones basic, not far beyond kit-car levels of sophistication. On a country road, though, the Europaís reason for being becomes more clear.

And thatís good, if driving for you has become an insular, boring experience. Stay away from traffic queues, and the Europa S is fun.

And not that necessary if braking distances, mid-corner apex speeds and ground-hugging roll-centres form part of your normal conversation. Yes, thatís racetrack jargon, and to the racetrack you will go, ho ho.

And much more forgiving than the Elise, with less of a tendency to hang the tail. Yes, those Lotus engineers have dialled out some of the fun factor in attempting to turn this track toy into a Gran Turismo.

On the other hand, the motor is a gem, much more charismatic than the Toyota powerplant at normal mid-range speeds.

What has happened with the Europa S is that the rear seems softer, which makes it stick better. The oversteer still lurks, but itís hidden.

Racetrack yes. Country roads on a Sunday yes. But for R635 000!? Err just repeat that please!

Lotus Europa S

  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, turbocharged, 1998 cc
  • Power: 149 kW @ 5 500 rpm
  • Torque: 265 Nm @ 4 200 rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 5,5 seconds (estimated)
  • Top speed: 225 km/h (estimated)
  • Fuel consumption: 10,5 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R635 000 (SA-spec model includes air-con)


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