Rigval Reza 8 years ago 0

Supercar Sightings: Lotus and The Lotus Evora IPS

Remind me later
The 2011 Lotus Evora IPS Sometimes staying up late on a Saturday night is a good thing. The thing about living in Malaysia is that there are many food stalls and car washes open till the wee hours of the morning. This means that one can actually enjoy having coffee or tea Al fresco whilst having their car washed. So we did just that last weekend and so did a lot of others. And amazingly at about two o’clock in the morning while we were winding down our session to head home, we saw a Lotus Evora drive by into the car wash beside us. At the Car Wash On A Saturday Night It isn’t often you get to see one in the flesh over here. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and those Japanese performance cars are everywhere in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, these days. The incredible fact is that while the Malaysian car manufacturer Proton owns Lotus, there aren’t many of them plying the streets of Kuala Lumpur, aside from a handful of Lotus Elise Mark 1s and some Exiges (if you’re lucky to spot one). Within a span of two hours, we managed to see two Ferrari F430s, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a GC8 Subaru Impreza WRX, a GD Impreza STI, a Mitsubishi Evo 5 and 8, Mercedes CLKs, a Nissan 350z or two, a couple of Porsche Cayennes, FD2R Honda Civic Type-Rs and so on. But we only saw one Lotus Elise Mk1. So as I mentioned, a Lotus Evora entering a car wash in the middle of the night is something different and Onny Izwan, a member in our remaining party of four (after a few others had left) and an ex-automotive journalist (who now writes for a bicycle magazine) decided that we should head over to the car wash to check it out. Lotus Evora rendezvous It turned out that it wasn’t a fully registered Evora but one that was still on its test plates and one still run by Lotus Cars Malaysia. So the four of us gathered round the car which was just washed and was being vacuumed. Two chaps wearing Lotus t-shirts appeared from nowhere and greeted us with smiles. Things were getting good. It turned out that the chaps from Lotus Malaysia had just got back from a 600 or so kilometer shakedown drive from Kuantan, which is located to the east of Kuala Lumpur. The white Lotus Evora that we were looking at was actually the Lotus Evora IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift). New for 2011, Lotus' Evora IPS is basically the automatic version of the Evora and the first Lotus to ever have such a transmission since they stopped making one in the late 1980s (the Lotus Excel SA). It is basically the base Evora with the 276bhp 3.5liter Toyota V6 engine sans 6 speed manual but with a 6 speed torque convertor automatic gearbox. You see, Lotus is actually still in the midst of acclimatizing the Evora IPS for tropical climates and we - by sheer chance - got to hear the news first hand. Lotus Evora IPS interior One of the Lotus guys mentioned that the Evora IPS needed fine tuning of its shift patterns as well as some transmission tweaks so that it suits the very hot and humid tropical regions like Malaysia and this is why the Evora IPS isn’t on sale over here at the moment. We also found out first hand that this Evora is actually the (near) future of Lotus in the United States of America, the land where automatic gearboxes are welcomed and where manual gearboxes are a hard sell. Regardless of the handful that relish such a transmission over in automotive blogs and forums over there as well as on Car Throttle. One of the guys piloting the Evora, Mr Ahmed Shahriman Rahman, was part of Marketing and Branding for Lotus Malaysia and he mentioned this fact whilst we discussed Lotus’ reason for ending the sale of the Lotus Elise and Exige from the United States and also over in Canada. The love of the general American populace for not changing gears manually has now made some petrolheads and gearheads over there lose out on something really intimate. Evora Engine Cover And our probing and staring at the Evora IPS continued. We noticed the lack of any gear shifter on the center console where the gearstick used to be. We also noticed buttons taking the place of it and that everything was mainly button operated. The flappy pedals behind the steering wheel would operate or override full automatic shifting if the driver wants to. Aside from that, the Evora IPS is basically the same as the Evora but not the supercharged Evora S which would only come with the manual gearbox at the moment. Interior build quality seems decent and very unlike the sparse interiors of the Elise and the Exige. This one had the full leather Premium pack option and some other optional goodies. The Evora is quite accommodating for larger sized people and I didn't have to suffer the  ‘Lotus entry or exit position’ in this car. Yes, the door sills are still thick and you still need to climb over it then let your bum drop into the seat. It was easier for me to reach under and pull the seat back, climb in then re-adjust the seat to the desired seating position instead of squeezing straight into the cabin. Yes, it’s cosy for a chubby boy like me unlike the small Elise and Exige. Small talk with the Lotus boys Anyway, our discussion with the boys from Lotus continued. We also discussed Lotus’ plan for the future and the ambitious plans of Dany Bahar, CEO of Lotus. Yes, there was scepticism on the plan to move the Lotus brand upscale from its track day special roots like the current Elise and Exige but if you look at things from Lotus’ perspective, sweeping changes were necessary for long term survival. The new models signify these changes and Lotus actually needs to go the way of Ferrari and Porsche to survive in the long run. Lotus purists might be cringing and moaning over the slight dismissal of the ‘just add lightness’ formula that founder Colin Chapman kept indoctrinated into the psyche of all Lotus employees.  I suppose the 'lightness' design cues will still be kept, but in line with the required change in the overall business plan. But if you actually see what the majority of the performance car buying public wants, it is actually a balance of occasional track day forays and creature comforts. The bottom-line is that people with lined pockets still need luxury. In fact, this is also one reason why Lotus does not do well here in Malaysia. We prefer medium/well-done instead of rare (or raw in this case). It needs to be properly cooked and stewed or in this case, air-conditioning, leather, cup holders as well as sports suspension, sports exhaust systems and a full blown bespoke engine to sell sports cars over here. On that note, this Lotus Evora IPS still does not have proper cup holders. You could stuff a can of cola into the door pockets, but thats about it. You can’t be holding your cuppa after a morning’s drive on your favourite B-road. In short, if the concept of pure performance ruled over having a compromise, we’d all be buying a Porsche 911 GT3 RS instead of the various other iterations of the 911. One important fact confirmed to us directly was that the Lotus Elan concept car (pictured below) was indeed shelved for the moment due to its similarity to the Evora. And Lotus intends to make the transition for the new Elan from the Evora as seamless as possible. We shall most probably see the Evora evolve even more before that happens. From what I can tell the Lotus Evora may get that facelift to keep it inline with the styling cues of the upcoming Esprit. Lotus Elan Concept And speaking of the upcoming Lotus Esprit, Lotus is indeed working on a new bespoke V8 engine to power the car. Now this isn’t a make or break kind of idea for Lotus. According to Ahmed, building a bespoke V8 engine isn’t and shouldn’t be that hard for Lotus. Those with good memory would remember that it wasn’t too long ago (the mid-1990s) that Lotus came up with their own V8 engine for the previous Lotus Esprit V8. That V8 engine was an aluminium 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that made 350bhp. It basically tells us that it shouldn't be rocket science for Lotus to come up with a new V8 for the new Esprit and this was indeed confirmed during our chat that night. No chance of an engine being the cause of a company's downfall, like what happened to TVR when they decided to build their own AJP V8 engines. That being said, it could still be a while off and we may still see a Toyota V8 powering the first of the new Esprit. Those that were wondering about what Lotus is doing in Formula 1 is that it really is about furthering the brand image of Lotus. It is basically confirmed that their current partnership with Renault in F1 is indeed better than last year’s collaboration with the guys from Team Lotus, an outfit run by Air Asia owner Tony Fernandes. Prior to this current mid-season break Group Lotus seem to be pleased with the progress of the Lotus Renault F1 team. Of course, Robert Kubica’s off-season accident did put a damper on their race plans. Novitec Rosso F430 meets Evora IPS We were also told that Proton is now pushing for Lotus to have more presence in Malaysia than before as throughout the 15 years of owning Lotus, this hasn't been done. It should, as I honestly do not want to keep on seeing those bread and butter Protons with their 'suspension tuned by Lotus' tagline and badging instead of the real thing plying the roads around here. This actually is one reason why the two chaps from Lotus decided to have their Lotus washed in this part of Kuala Lumpur, a good 40 or so kilometers from Lotus Cars Malaysia's HQ in Shah Alam. The car wash (and the eatery we frequented) is located slightly upscale area around Ampang Point and is the spot to go for supercar watching. Check out the Novitec Rosso F430 exiting the car wash in the photograph above. So taking a Lotus to where the action usually is, is actually a wise marketing move. Evora IPS getting cleaned And so we go back to the Evora IPS. It actually looks good up close in real life. Photos do not do justice to this car. All of us basically agreed that the Evora has real road presence. It looks small and slightly dainty in the photographs but it isn’t like looking at an Elise or an Exige. It is actually much more than that.  But it needs cupholders. Really. So what does this tell us? Lotus seems to be doing quite well overall and their business plan seems pretty sound. All these details from a visit to the local eatery and the local car wash in the middle of the night thousands of miles from Hethel, the actual home of Lotus. Staying up late is a good thing after all. Thanks to Ahmed Shahriman Rahman of Lotus Cars Malaysia, who so kindly accommodated our questions and comments at 2.30am on a Sunday morning. The Lotus Evora IPS is on sale in the UK with prices starting at around £53,500 and will be sold in Malaysia with prices starting at RM460,000 without Road Tax and Insurance Some pictures courtesy of Adlis K