Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Lotus Evora evolves

Lotus has released its first new Lotus since the Elise ten years ago, the top-shelf Evora coupe. Amongst other firsts, the new Evora is powered by a V6 engine. The Evora is also Lotus’ first two-plus-two seating configuration since 1992.
The new Evora was released last year (2009) and the initial build projection is for 2000 Evoras to be built each year once production ramps up.

Lotus Evora

The development of the Evora has been rigorous, over a 27 month period, racking up a total of 920,000 development kilometers.
The first prototype was built in late 2007, with traction testing done at the Bosch Lapland facility and wet handling at the UK Mira test facility. Brakes were developed using Italy’s renowned Stelvio Pass for testing, while hot-weather testing was done in Arizona and in Australia.
The engine is sourced from Toyota, being the 2GR-FE VVTi 3.5 liter V6, which in the Evora develops 206 kW of power at 6400 rpm and 350 Nm of torque at 4700 rpm.
While the main engine components are shipped in to the UK factory from Toyota, fuel, exhaust and clutch systems were all developed by Lotus. The ETCS-i Lotus throttle control unit is managed by a Lotus T6 engine management system, while a Lotus-developed AP Racing clutch and flywheel are used, along with a unique exhaust system.
The EA60 six-speed manual transmission originates from the Toyota’s Avensis diesel, with Lotus offering two sets of ratios - standard and optional sports ratios - the latter employing the same first and second gear ratios, but closer ratios for third to sixth.
No automatic transmission is available yet, but Lotus is developing a six-speed paddle-shift unit, which is due for release in 2011.
Acceleration is brisk, without being ‘supercar’ with a 0-100 km/h time of 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 261 km/h, with either set of gearbox ratios.
It is a fairly frugal car, despite 3.5 liters, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.7 L/100 km. This is due in no small way to the lean all-up weight of 1382 kg.
The brakes are four-piston calipers with ventilated rotors (350 mm diameter on the front and 332 mm at the rear), which are also cross-drilled on the Sports Upgrade Pack. The braking package also features ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and hydraulic brake assist.
Lotus says that under emergency breaking the Evora has achieved a 2.5 second, 36.8 meter stopping performance from 100 km/h.
An electronic differential lock, traction control and stability control are standard, while steering is a hydraulic power-assisted set-up made by TRW and developed by Lotus.
Suspension is a lightweight forged aluminium double-wishbone design, with Eibach coil springs and Bilstein dampers tuned by Lotus ride and handling engineers.
Lotus claims the body is two times stiffer than that of the Elise and uses Lotus’ first Low Volume Versatile Vehicle Structure, a chassis that will be used in other upcoming Lotus models.
The Evora uses lightweight composite body panels bonded to the chassis, contributing stiffness to the safety cell around the cabin. At the front and rear of the cabin, composite clamshells are bolted to the chassis, which Lotus says enables easy removal for repair.
The chassis structure itself weighs a little more than 200 kg, and features a front sub-frame made of extruded and bonded aluminium bolted to the main chassis tub.
One of the main problems with the Elise has been the difficulty of getting in and out of the car over the wide sill and the cramped quarters inside - and the limited seating capacity of two seats.
With the Evora, Lotus has enlarged the space in the cabin to 95th percentile American man (1.86 m) in the front seats and a fifth percentile American woman (1.52 m) in the back seats at the same time. Not quite two plus two legless midgets, but the rear seats are obviously not built for large adults for long distances.
While the nose section is fixed, taken up with cooling vents and radiator (except for an opening hatch to access the windscreen washer reservoir and brake fluid reservoir), the rear hatch opens to reveal a 160 liter boot - which Lotus says can accommodate a set of golf clubs.
Standard equipment includes keyless entry with alarm and immobilizer, remote hatch locking, air-conditioning, a height-and-reach-adjustable steering wheel, Recaro black leather seats, heated/powered door mirrors, cast-alloy wheels (18-inch diameter front, 19-inch rear), an Alpine audio system with CD/MP3/WMA compatibility, auxiliary input and iPod docking.
The switchable sports mode is activated via a sport button on the dash. It sharpens throttle response and increases the engine rev limit from 6500rpm to 7000rpm. Traction control is adjusted to permit an increased slip and yaw angle before activating, and it also removes the understeer recognition component of the stability control.
The price? Expect something around 18-20 million baht.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week’s Quiz bike

Last week I mentioned motorcycles. I asked which automaker built this one? It was Chrysler (Dodge) with the Viper’s V10 in the middle. It does have four wheels, so if you want to be pernickety it isn’t a motorcycle, but it sure isn’t a car either!
So to this week. In 1971, what was the heaviest private car in current production?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Depreciation after 12 months
It is difficult (read well-nigh impossible) to quantify depreciation of new cars after they appear on the local secondhand market, but with the much greater number of vehicles in the UK, it is possible to get some worthwhile figures.
The car which depreciated the least in the UK was the Honda Jazz, and is one vehicle which also holds it head up high in Thailand.
In this survey it uses the value of cars, as if they were being sold privately, in good condition with 16,000 km on the clock and compares this to their cost as new, 12 months earlier.
Small cars showed they are certainly the safest bet for the least depreciation, taking 35 of the top 40 places in the index.
The 10 best performers of 2009:
1 Honda Jazz (08 on)
2 Fiat 500 (08 on)
3 SEAT Ibiza (08 on)
4 Hyundai i10 (08 on)
5 Mazda 2 (07 on)
6 Kia Picanto (04 on)
7 VW Fox (06 on)
8 Suzuki Swift (05 on)
9 Toyota Aygo (05 on)
10 Mitsubishi i (07 on)
Unfortunately, we do not get many of these vehicles in Thailand, but the basic message is there. Size does matter - and the smaller the better!
The biggest losers of 2009:
1 Maybach 62 (03 on)
2 Maybach 57 (03 on)
3 Rolls-Royce Phantom (03 on)
4 Bentley Arnage (98 on)
5 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti (05 on)
6 Mercedes-Benz SL Class AMG (02 on)
7 Bentley Cont. Flying Spur (05 on)
8 Aston Martin DBS (08 on)
9 Bentley Continental GT Coupe
10 Ferrari F 430 (05 on)
Most of these vehicles can be found in Thailand, often in the ‘grey’ market, but I suppose that if your piggy bank is big enough to hold the millions of baht necessary to buy one of these, you don’t care about depreciation, or fuel consumption or taxes. I’ll have the AMG Mercedes-Benz SL (after saving up), and in the meantime I’ll just have to keep the Daihatsu Mira running for the next 50 years.

Scandinavian electric car-maker to produce Think in the US
The Think people have recommenced production of its electric micro-car in Finland, and now the Scandinavian EV maker has continued its global expansion by announcing it will also produce the Think City in the US from early 2011.
Indiana’s Elkhart Country was named as the location of Think’s North American production facility in a joint announcement by Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and the Olso, Norway-based company.

Thinking about a Think?

Think says its $US 43.5 million investment in building improvements and equipment in the US will create up to 400 jobs by 2013, with stateside production expected to start early next year.
Before then, however, the Think City - which made its US debut at the Detroit motor show in January this year and is claimed to be one of the world’s first highway-capable urban EVs - will be launched in the US later in 2010.
Think says its all-electric City can travel at highway speeds for more than 160km on a single charge, giving it market-leading range, drivability and recyclability.
The City hatchback employs technology developed by Think over 19 years, becoming the world’s first EV to meet European CE certification and EU homologation requirements.
While the Think City initially will be imported to the US, the Elkhart County assembly plant will have a production capacity of more than 20,000 vehicles a year. (Now that’s what I call optimism!)
Think joins Indianapolis-based lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel in choosing Indiana for a North American manufacturing location. EnerDel’s parent company Ener1 is a 31 percent equity stakeholder in Think.
Think last month resumed production of the City at the Finnish assembly plant owned by Valmet Automotive, which also produces the Boxster and Cayman sportscars for Porsche and is Think’s newest shareholder and industrial partner.

Sorry, you can’t buy it!
How do you get the world to talk about your supercar? Well, Lexus (Toyota in a party dress) says the way is to tell the world “You can’t buy it!”
The Wall St Journal reports that the Japanese car maker has opted to hand-pick LFA buyers rather than take the traditional route of selling to anyone with the cash to buy one.
According to the blurb and hype, Lexus wants the buyers to be good ambassadors for the brand, parking outside all the right restaurants and cruising along the right boulevards, rather than keeping a low profile.
What they are happily ignoring, is people with that sort of money have more than one car and might instead take the Ferrari to dine at Enzo’s Pizza Parlor.
Apparently, buyers will have to lease the car for the first two years, before being offered the chance to buy it outright. The Journal says Lexus will ask prospective owners to apply to an authorized Lexus outlet if they are interested in the $US350,000 Japanese supercar.
The Lexus is powered by a 4.8 liter V10, matched to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. This will produce 413 kW of power and 480 Nm of torque, which Lexus claims will propel the car to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds.
The whole LFA concept is merely a marketing exercise to give the Lexus brand some additional cachet. I’m not putting my name forward!

Lexus LFA - Not For Sale