Extended-range sports car at the electronic vanguard
By Marc Lachapelle
Lotus is back in F1 this year and Colin Chapman’s philosophy lives on in the cars designed by Group Lotus, owned by Malaysian carmaker Proton. In Geneva, Lotus Engineering unveiled the Evora 414E Hybrid, a concept that embodies its core principles: lightweight construction, efficiency, leading-edge electronics and exceptional dynamics.
Based on the new 2+2 sports car that will be coming to North America this year, the Evora 414E Hybrid is named for the 414 horsepower (in PS, the German measure) produced by its innovative plug-in and extended-range hybrid powertrain. This equates to 408 SAE horsepower and Lotus says its hybrid sports car can sprint to 100 km/h in about 4 seconds. About as quick as a supercar or the all-electric Tesla roadster, largely built at Lotus cars, by the way.
Each of the 414E Hybrid’s rear wheels is driven by an electric motor that produces 204 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. By modulating the output to each wheel individually Lotus uses ‘torque-vectoring’ to define the car’s handling. The system should finely control understeer and oversteer, prevent slides as would a conventional yaw control system and enhance high-speed stability. Agility and turn-in are also improved beyond steering input by accelerating the outside driven wheel a touch more.
The transmission is single-speed but a sports mode with paddle shifters lets the driver pick between 7 simulated ratios to get the same effect as engine braking in a conventional car. Drive torque is even modulated to simulate the slight shudder of a gearshift. The simulated gears are also linked to the energy regeneration mode that recharges the 17-kilowatt lithium-polymer batteries. The pack is mounted in the centre of the car to keep it close to its inertial pivot point for the best stability and agility but also to keep it out of harm’s way.
The Evora 414E Hybrid is said to be able to run on electric power alone for almost 60 kilometres. And when the battery charge level is low, a Lotus-designed 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine kicks in to recharge it with the integrated generator. The car’s total range is almost 500 kilometres. This innovative engine has its cylinder block, head and exhaust manifold in a single aluminum casting and weighs only 85 kg for an output of 47 hp at 3,500 rpm. The production Evora, by contrast, is powered by a 3.5-litre, 267-hp V6.
Lotus has long been a pioneer of synthesized sound and the Evora 414E Hybrid makes liberal use of it. The driver can choose between four programmed engine sounds: one simulates the roar of a V6, another the silky wail of a V12. Lotus calls the third one ‘futuristic’ and the fourth blends it with the sound of a conventional engine. The system even generates sound outside to make its passage heard in the city where quiet-running hybrids and electrics can creep up on pedestrians.
A true new-age sports car, then, true to the fundamental technical values at Lotus. Colin Chapman would be proud.