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The Future of Speed

Just in time for the total depletion of your 401(k), Lotus makes its greatest case yet for a momentary lapse of reason

-By Ian Daly
-Photographs by Donald Milne

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QUANTUM SHIFT

For decades, Lotus has made raw and nimble cars that appeal to weekend speed freaks. But this month the British automaker is enlarging its fan base with an offering so uncharacteristically sophisticated you'll be tempted to take it out for a night on the town. More remarkable yet, without sacrificing agility, the Evora gets the kind of gas mileage you'd expect from a Honda Civic: 30 mpg. Who says the auto industry's out of tricks?


FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION

The Evora was conceived in 2006 under the code name "Project Eagle," and after a three-week sketch-off, in-house designer Steve Crijns' teardrop-shaped masterwork was approved for 3-D treatment. "We didn't want something too brutal or aggressive," design director Russell Carr says. "It had to be dynamic, but it had to have a certain delicacy, too." When the model made its debut at the British motor show last year, the critics raved. designers had stripped "visual weight" from the car to ensure that it looked fast even while standing still. "We shrink-wrapped the form over the mechanics," Carr says. The Evora shown above is awaiting final inspection at the Lotus factory in Norwich, England. the composite-plastic body keeps the car's weight under 3,000 pounds—which is why it takes only a 276-hp V6 to get it to 60 mph in under five seconds—but the extruded aluminum skeleton provides the rock-solid support normally found only in planes. As for the interior, the Evora is refined—a complete departure from the Spartan Lotus aesthetic (think black plastic and bare metal)—with hand-stitched leather and glowing aluminum controls that disappear into the dash, making you feel like you're operating a giant Bang & Olufsen remote. not everything has been consumerized, though: the hidden mechanics—cross-drilled disc brakes, AP racing calipers, 19-inch wheels, and forged-aluminum double-wishbone suspension—are made for Grand Prix victories and lightning-fast lap times at Nürburgring.

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