You’re looking at the most powerful production car ever: the new Lotus Evija. Just 130 will be built, with deliveries starting in the second half of 2020, and it promises to set new benchmarks in terms of performance and track capability. The Evija is all electric and all carbon-fiber, and it makes a staggering 1,972 horsepower (2,000 metric hp). Forget 0-60 statistics, as they seem almost irrelevant, and try to wrap your head around this: Lotus says the Evija (say “EVE-eye-ah”) will accelerate from 0 to 186 mph in 8.6 seconds. A Bugatti Chiron needs 13.6 seconds to reach the same speed.
This is a whole new world for Lotus. And I’m not just talking about the aesthetics, performance, and price of the $2.1 million (plus local taxes) Evija. Of course, the numbers are extraordinary, but for a British journalist like me, the exclusive London venue, the pomp, and the attention to detail in the planning of the unveil event is like no Lotus launch that has gone before.
Usually, an invitation from Lotus involves numerous cups of tea, some biscuits, a PowerPoint presentation, and then a cheery wave as you leave the factory in Hethel, Norfolk, in the latest Elise, Exige, or Evora. This time it’s laser-light shows, string quartets, canapés, and champagne at the Royal Horticultural Society in Westminster. Chinese manufacturer Geely—which bought a majority stake in Lotus in 2017—clearly saw huge potential and expertise in the perennially on-the-brink manufacturer, and now it’s investing heavily in Lotus’ future. The Evija might not be a traditional or attainable Lotus, but it’s a statement of intent. A relaunch. In the words of Lotus Group CEO Feng Qingfeng, “a solemn promise to reinforce and strengthen the brand.”
The engineers at Lotus, you sense, can scarcely believe their luck working on a project like this. Louis Kerr, the project’s chief engineer, simply describes it as “once in a lifetime” and has clearly relished the challenge. Lotus has been working on the project for just 20 months but has developed an all-new carbon-fiber structure that eschews subframes and instead features a semi-active and Multimatic-supplied inboard suspension that bolts directly to the tub. The monocoque itself is built by Modena-based carbon-fiber experts C.P.C. Srl and weighs just 284 pounds. The 2,000-kW lithium-ion battery—developed in a joint venture with Williams Advanced Engineering—sits directly behind the passenger cell and is on display just like an old-school internal combustion engine might be in a Lamborghini or Ferrari. The Evija features four electric motors supplied by Integral Powertrain Limited, and each wheel is controlled independently, opening up all sorts of torque-vectoring opportunities.
All of this combines into those tasty numbers. A top speed of more than 200 mph, 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, a curb weight of 3,704 pounds, class-leading structural stiffness, a charge time of 18 minutes with a 350-kW charging station, and a range of 270 miles on the NEDC cycle. Although maybe not when you’re using all 1,972 horsepower. There are several driving modes—including Eco, City, Tour, Sport, and Track—which alter 20 parameters, and Lotus says the liquid-cooled EV powertrain will cope with a lap of the Nürburgring without any performance degradation.