The Lotus brand to us Malaysians is a bit sad in all honesty. It’s like the stray cat that came to your house once, asked for food but still isn’t friendly to you. But you kinda like that stray cat so you keep on giving it food eventhough it growls at you. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it just didn’t really feel at home. Now that cat is getting a dialysis treatment and getting a new lease of life.
Okay, enough with cat analogies. Since Proton took over Lotus in 1996, they’ve been milking the Elise cow until today. However, the idea of a Lotus Elise is as basic as it gets so you can’t really fault them for that. If you want a stripped-down hardcore road-legal go kart, you have the Exige. And if you want something a bit more luxurious, you have the Evora.
The life of Lotus.
The history of Lotus is something that we can’t go much into detail as you’ll end up clicking away but we’ll be brief. See, Lotus was founded by a bloke called Colin Chapman in 1952. Colin, who has a background in aeronautical engineering, had a simple philosophy of “Simplify then add lightness’. And Lotus has stayed true to the philosophy til this very day. From a project that started the company, to 7 title-winning Formula One cars, multiple cars in between and the Elise.
The Elise has so many variations throughout it’s lifespan that it may even confuse a Lotus aficionado. But the Series 1 Elise started life in 1996, having a Rover-sourced engine before being revised for the Series 2 in 2002, around 7 years before receiving the Toyota-based 2ZZ engine (US got the engine in 2004 due to regulations). The Series 3 is by far the longest running Elise, which was unveiled in 2010 and still sold today.
The enthusiasts-adored Exige was the hardcore version of the Elise. Having gone through the same Series updates, the power was also uprated during the Series 2 model with a supercharger being bolted onto the engine. The Series 3 was given the 3.5-litre supercharged version of the Toyota 2GR engine. Despite the replacement for displacement, Lotus still maintained their lightweight policy.
Other than their lightweight models, Lotus also wanted to make a model for the people who didn’t want to shatter their spines daily driving the track car. This compromise was what ended as the Evora. Despite having the same supercharged-engine from the Series 3 Elise, the Evora was built on a different platform. With the most powerful Evora GT430 producing a whopping 430hp (obviously) with only 1,310kg, this was the most powerful production Lotus.
Lotus paved way for some iconic Supercars!
And we’re not talking about the Elise-derived Europa. No, no. Cars like the Opel Speedster, the first generation Tesla Roadster and Hennessey Venom GT wouldn’t be possible without the humble Elise. These supercars borrowed the Elise chassis from Lotus and gave it tons of power and aero which made it possible to basically be one of the first EV sportscars and a former fastest-car-in-the-world title. Lotus too created their own track beast with the 2-Eleven and the 3-Eleven (which was at Tea & Tires v5!)
Truth be told, we’re not really angry but rather sad that Lotus never unveiled anything groundbreaking during it’s Proton tenure. However, thanks to Lotus, we’ve gotten some of the best handling Protons around. In case if you haven’t realised, Lotus was also involved with the Aston Martin DB9, Nissan GT-R and the Jaguar C-X75 from James Bond! So, farewell Lotus 111 chassis, you will be surely be missed!
We wonder what Geely will now bring to the table?
Written by | Danial Malek