The Lotus Evija: Are we sure about this lads?
Should Hethel be building a hypercar right now?
If you were the co-pilot of a British Airways Boeing 777, and half way through a flight from Heathrow to JFK your captain announced that he was just going to try and do a loop-the-loop you’d be forgiven for raising an eyebrow and perhaps discreetly asking him if he really thought it was a good idea.
Similarly, the managers of a uranium enrichment plant could expect to face a few searching questions from the health and safety department if they were to suggest the introduction of dress-down Friday for workers in the reactor building.
There are some things in this world which certain people simply shouldn’t do. I, for instance, have the mathematical ability of an eggplant and the face of a deflated walrus, so I wouldn’t put myself forward should there ever be an opening for the beautiful and clever Rachel Riley’s job on Countdown.
So, why is it that Lotus have been able to delcare that they’re going to build a one thousand horsepower hypercar powered only by electricity and nobody has picked up the phone, called Norfolk, and quietly asked “Ahem, are you sure about this?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love Lotus. My admiration for Colin Chapman is boundless, and I am perhaps the only person in history to have professed a liking for the front wheel drive Elan from the nineties. But let’s be realistic here, electricity has never been their strong suit has it?
Take the Exige for instance, I know a guy who saved up for three years to buy one. It was his dream car; he had a poster of one on the wall in his office and would talk of little else than all of the track days and road trips he was going to do in it one day. Then, one happy day, after working his socks off for what must have felt like an eternity, he was finally able to go down to the local dealer and buy a brand new Exige of his own. I remember going round to see it and it looked fantastic in pearlescent white, just like the one in his poster, and almost as wide as the grin on the lucky blokes face. However, the next time I saw him, about six months later, he was driving a BMW. It turns out that every evening, he would come home from work and park his beloved Lotus outside his house. And every single evening the alarm would go off for absolutely no reason at all, not just once, but every single hour until the battery eventually went flat.
“I didn’t want to sell it, but my wife said either the car goes or she goes.” He recounted, wearing the look of a man who had clearly disembarked from the train of life at what Alan Partridge would have called Shattered Dreams Parkway.
Remember the Esprit? Of course you do. For its wonderfully deft chassis perhaps, or in later years, a gutsy V8 engine. But more than likely you remember it as the submarine car that the late, great, Sir Roger Moore drove out of the sea in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. I remember watching that scene for the first time as a child and gawping with amazement. I also remember watching it again a few weeks ago as an adult and thinking of the stricken 70’s Esprit which was sat outside my friends office at the time, a car that would point blank refuse to start if there was even a hint of moisture in the air. I know Bond films are meant to be escapist fantasy, but come on...
You can see then, why my hopes for a Hethel-built hypercar powered by volts and wiggly amps are not exactly high. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first customer car was delivered with the electric propulsion system wired up to the window switches. “Yes, I know it won’t move sir, but just look at how quickly those windows open…”
More to the point, I’m not really sure why they’re going to the trouble of making such a car in the first place. This car, the Evija (pronounced “evv-ey-ah”) is going to be the first all new Lotus since the Evora came along in 2009. Alright, so it’s a halo car, they’re trying to come back from their wilderness years with an almighty bang. But to what end? Even with the industrial might of China’s Geely corporation now behind them, the Evija is still going to be very expensive to build and therefore even more expensive to buy. How expensive? Well, word on the street is you won’t see much change from £1.5million.
That puts the Evija firmly into the hypercar big league. A league which is already populated by Ferrari, McLaren, Bugatti and Koenigsegg, with Mercedes and Aston Martin about to join the party. Who’s going to say “No. I don’t want to spend a million quid on any of the amazing cars from these iconic, experienced brands. I want a hypercar from East Anglia with a heater which is likely as not wired into the boot release switch."?
Of course, I want to be wrong. I would like nothing more than for the Evija, silly name or not, to arrive on the scene and destroy all comers in a thousand horsepower blaze of turnip-fuelled glory. I know for sure that because they’ve put Gavan Kershaw, who is a genius, in charge of the chassis, that the Evija will be beautiful to drive. And despite the fact that the only renderings released by the design team thus far appear to show the contents of a snotty tissue, I’m hopeful it will look great too.
But it still doesn’t mean a damn thing if nobody is going to buy one. Call me defeatist, call me a throwback and a dinosaur if you wish. But if I was the boss of Lotus, I’d go down to the factory right now and throw the Evija plans in the bin. I’d then have them start work on a pretty, pointy two-door coupe to replace the aging Evora. It would have a responsive helm and a turbocharged, mid-mounted engine. I’d price it well under what Ferrari would charge for a 488 and I’d let them call it what ever they wanted providing they used the letters P, E, R, S, I and T.
Then, I’d get on the phone to Pinewood Studios and ask them how they kept the bloody water out.