Lotus has revealed its – and Britain's – first all-electric hypercar, the Evija, and the Norfolk brand isn't messing around. With 1973bhp, a top speed of over 200mph and acceleration statistics that redefine physics, the Evija isn't just a first of a kind; it's going to be the most powerful car to go into series production.
The Lotus Evija isn't just a big, bold statement by the brand; it is designed to relaunch Lotus and pave the way for future models in a variety of ways including a new signature design language. In fact the clue is in the name, with 'Evija' meaning 'the first in existence' – a subtle nod to the control-alt-delete act that Lotus is aiming to pull off here.
All of this advanced design and outrageous performance will come at a cost though; 1.7 million pounds to be precise, before taxes. But if you have that knocking about, you better be quick as – in line with its Type 130 Lotus designation – just 130 will be produced.
The Evija is the first Lotus to use a full carbon fibre monocoque with the bodywork appearing shrink-wrapped over what lies underneath. Its target weight is 1680kg which, whilst not featherweight against some internal combustion supercars, is supremely light for an all-electric hypercar. By comparison, the 1900bhp Rimac tips the scales at closer to 2000kg.
To look at, the Evija has obvious nods to Lotus's current line-up in the way it looks mid-engined, and the over-arching themes of the exterior will be carried over to future generations of the Elise, Exige and Evora. This may well extend to brand new lighting tech; the Lotus Evija is the first production road car in the world to feature laser lights for both main and dipped beams. Produced by Osram, the lighting modules are very compact and will provide an outstanding view of the road (or track) ahead.
Aerodynamics play a big role in the way the car looks, with the prominent venturi tunnel and bi-plane splitter channelling airflow under the car to the rear diffuser. The Evija also deploys active aerodynamics in the form of an active rear wing and an F1-style drag reduction system, each of which is utilised automatically in Track mode (one of five driving modes – see below) and can be deployed by the driver in other modes. Whilst we don't know what the final downforce figure is we can be pretty sure that it'll be significant.
In a world where mainstream EVs widely share platforms and drivetrains, small, low-volume carmakers like Lotus are going to live or die in the electric world by the strength of their propulsion systems. And Lotus isn't messing about when it comes to the Evija.
The headline-grabbing figures are 1973bhp of go, 1254lb-ft of twist, a sub-three second 0-62mph time and a top speed of over 200mph. These only tell part of the story though. According to Matt Windle, Executive Director of Sportscar Engineering at Lotus, 0-186mph will take in the region of nine – yes, nine – seconds; 62-124mph will take less than three seconds, and 124-186mph less than four. And Evija can be driven flat-out with no detrimental effect on performance for over seven minutes, thanks to highly effective cooling and powertrain efficiency of up to 98 per cent.
This prodigious power is delivered thanks to a 2000kW lithium-ion battery pack – the most energy-dense and lightest such battery ever used in a road car application. It is located behind the driver and passenger seats where traditionally the engine would be for perfect weight distribution and packaging. Interestingly, it's also been designed in a modular fashion for ease of maintenance and also to facilitate quick changes for alternative battery packs which, for example, might be more suited to track use.
Four motors producing just over 493bhp sit at each corner, transferring power to the 20 and 21 inch magnesium wheels front and rear respectively, via a highly-compact integrated gearbox and power inverter. These electronic drive units (EDUs) enable the Lotus Evija to maintain some of the brand's famed handling prowess through torque vectoring combined with an intelligent ESP system. Specially developed Pirelli Trofeo R tyres do the mechanical grip work, and behind the wheels sit a full AP Racing braking system with carbon-ceramic discs all round.
All of the power and performance can be accessed in Track mode; however the car also has Range, City, Tour and Sport modes which can be selected depending on the on-road situation or whim of the driver.
Even when it comes to charging the Evija takes things to the next level. Developed alongside Williams Advanced Engineering, the battery can accept a charge at up to 800kW which would enable the Evija to be fully charged in just nine minutes. There is one sticking point, however; try finding a commercially-available 800kW charger...
With the limited but expanding 350kW network using a CCS2 socket, the charging stats are still very impressive: empty to 80 per cent takes 12 minutes, and to full takes just six minutes more. Range, according to the WLTP cycle, is 250 miles and for your £1.7m Lotus will be offering a home charging solution.
With all that power and performance on tap, yet feasibility to use the Evija every day, one of the design challenges for the Lotus team was ensuring the cabin struck an appropriate balance of the Jekyll and Hyde personality. Russell Carr, Design Director at Lotus; “At the core of the appeal of any Lotus is that the driver is in sync with the car at all times and almost feels as if they are wearing it. Looking out from behind the wheel, it’s a wonderfully emotional moment to be able to see the bodywork outside, both in front and behind you. That’s something we hope to enhance in future Lotus models.”
Electric, handle-free dihedral doors provide a bit of drama when getting in or out with the interior door button located on a roof console – a nod to the Esprit Turbo. Otherwise, the Evija is minimalist in its interior design with most of the features accessible via a floating touch-sensitive centre console which doesn't feature a screen. Hexagonal buttons with haptic feedback and a control wheel can be used to navigate functions.
The multi-function steering wheel is modelled around that of an F1 or LMP car and ahead of this is the only screen to be found in the car. In a very 'Lotus' move this screen displays only the vital information, with additional button-activated information only being displayed for a short period before it fades away. Of course, the car connects with drivers via a smartphone app and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it's refreshing in a world of multiple screens and distractions that Lotus has eschewed the trend and put driving at the heart of the Evija.
Lotus will be making just 130 examples of the Evija, which was revealed in a high-profile event at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. At £1.7m before taxes, it's going to be an exclusive group who are ultimately going to get their hands on one after production starts in early 2020.
However, fanfare aside, the Evija is the beginning of the next stage in Lotus's illustrious history and it's been designed, and will be built here in the UK. From that perspective, it's a foundation upon which Lotus will build its future.