Lotus took the only model it will offer in the United States to the New York Auto Show, but without much fanfare. The storied but troubled car maker is only offering the Evora and Evora S because of safety requirements that demand compromises Lotus isn’t going to make.
Only model coming here at all
Sports car manufacturers used to be able to bypass federal regulations requiring airbags if they met conditions like only making a few cars per year or if adding airbags would pose an undue hardship in engineering the car. As a result, boutique car makers could continue making cool cars without compromise.
However, the American government decided to close that loophole in 2011, meaning a small number of cars few could afford and fewer bought could not be sold here. One such company, according to AutoWeek, was Lotus, the storied car firm that emphasizes founder Colin Chapman’s philosophy of “simplify, then add lightness.”
Last year, when the loophole was closed, Lotus announced it would only be selling the Evora and the Evora S in the U.S., as the Evora has airbags already.
According to AutoBlog, the 2012 Evora S was quietly displayed at the New York Auto Show. It didn’t even get a press conference. The interior has been punched up with additional leather, new Recaro seats, a Pioneer sound and sat-nav system instead of the Alpine system in the 2011 model and a new finish for the dashboard. Lotus has also added an option of 19-inch front, 20-inch rear wheels if customers want something a bit bigger than the 18-inch front, 19-inch rear standard wheels.
The rest remains the same, as the Evora S retains the same engine, a supercharged 3.5-liter Toyota V-6 that produces 345 horsepower, according to Car and Driver. Six-speed manual and, according to Lotus, paddle-shifted automatic transmissions are available. However, things like satellite navigation, leather seats and a premium audio system are all optional extras.
The 2011 base model, according to Car and driver, started at $77,175, and with options such as leather seats, premium audio and navigation and premium wheels, the price can easily climb to $90,000. Competing models, like the Porsche Cayman and Chevrolet Corvette, are easier to find at dealerships, though few match the handling abilities of a Lotus.
The company, according to Inside Line, is in trouble after years of under-performing financially. Proton, Lotus’ Malaysian parent company, was acquired by DRB-Hicom, a larger Malaysian car company, and as a result, Lotus had to suspend much of its operations in England, including product development, from January through the end of March. CEO Danny Behar is hoping to re-establish Lotus with a slate of new models in 2014 and 2015. Whether the company survives that long remains to be seen.
Inside Line: http://www.insideline.com/lotus/bahar-says-lotus-has-suspended-some-product-development.html