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WORLD SCOOP: It's the Lotus Europa

2005-08-02 06:59

John Oxley

Lotus insiders told me last week that the new car will be made in Malaysia by holding company Proton, and will be sold as a Proton in domestic markets.

This will make it the first Lotus to be built outside the UK, but I was assured British jobs will not be affected as other models in the Lotus range will continue in production in Norfolk.

And Lotus will once more use a General Motors power plant. This echoes the past where the company used a Lotus-modified Vauxhall/Opel engine in its early Esprit models.

The Esprit two-seater supercar was produced between 1976 and 2000, the last cars being powered by a 3.5-litre V8.

The Europa will have the Opel/Vauxhall four-cylinder 2-litre turbo engine which puts out 147 kW in standard trim.

Super performance

However, some versions of the Lotus Europa may get the 176 kW Opel OPC motor, which could give the sub-1 000 kg car 0 to 100 km/h acceleration in the 5 seconds bracket, with a top speed of 250 km/h plus.

Although built on a lengthened version of the all-aluminium chassis used on the Lotus Elise two-seater sports car, the Europa will have completely new bodywork, with much smoother styling in keeping with its broader appeal.

Lengthening and widening the chassis will also allow the mid-engined car to have reclining front seats and more luggage space, as well as room for two occasional passengers in the back.

Changes to the high sill design, plus wide-opening doors, will allow easier access.

A novel feature is that the engine will be on display through the steeply-sloping rear window.

Although pricing for South Africa has not yet been finalised, it is hoped Malaysian production will allow the car to be imported into SA at around the same price - or possibly even less - than the R480 000 of the Elise 111R because of exchange rate advantages.

No dates yet for introduction of the car.

  • Lotus previously produced the Europa, its first mid-engined production car, from 1967, with fibre-glass bodywork and a tuned Renault 1.5-litre engine.

The car was well accepted, with tremendous handling, and later versions got the 1 558 cc Lotus Twin Cam engine.

Production ended in 1974 after almost 9 000 cars had been made.

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