You can only know how good a new car is when the boss of the company, himself a highly experienced automotive engineer, gets behind the wheel on the iconic Hethel test track.
As the Evija hypercar programme approaches the final straight before entering production, the project development team invited Matt Windle, Managing Director of Lotus Cars, to one of their dynamic validation sessions.
Gavan Kershaw, Director of Product Attributes and Lotus’ legendary chief test driver, gave Matt an update before his drive. Gavan said: “We’re now 80% through the development programme, and the last 20% is where the magic happens. Refining attributes like ride, handling, steering feel and, ultimately, full power. It’s an amazing machine at 80%, at 100% it is going to be truly mind-blowing.”
After several laps of the 2.2-mile circuit, a fixture of the Hethel landscape since Lotus moved to the site in 1966, Matt was delighted with the way the all-electric hypercar performed. He commented: “The thrill of immediate torque, coupled with a lively rear axle and recognisable Lotus agility, makes Evija an unbelievable package already, and that’s just a prototype. We are still some months from entering series production, but already this car has that unmistakable Lotus ‘feel’. Unquestionably a unique and extreme hypercar, but still, somehow, a Lotus. I’m so excited and extremely proud of what the team has achieved.”
Louis Kerr, Chief Platform Engineer, added: “We’re lucky in that we have our very own test track, FIA compliant, literally 50 yards from the all-new Evija assembly hall. I’m not sure many other manufacturers in the world can say that. Already the Evija is the fastest road car around the Hethel track, and some legendary cars and drivers have been setting records around here for many years. We’re already going quicker than expected, and in addition we’re looking to exceed the targets we’ve set ourselves on the project in terms of power and torque capacities to absolutely maximise the performance envelope of the car.”
The Evija has been designed and engineered by Lotus without any constraints, and the team has pushed the boundaries of technology and materials at every opportunity. The car has been developed with the best technical partners and the latest technology, some of which is only currently available on a Formula One car. In addition, it has the most power-dense electric powertrain of any car.
James Hazlehurst, Lead Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, added: “As we enter the final straight of the development programme and start to unleash full power and torque, we are fast-completing the base vehicle dynamics and turning on the active systems one by one – torque vectoring, active aero, traction control and so on – to confirm everything behaves and works together as expected.”
Concluding the validation session, Gavan Kershaw said: “The Evija is an absolutely phenomenal drive. It has Formula One accelerations but in a closed cockpit, so it’s like a little Group C racer but with the torque and instant delivery of all the power, all the torque and the very latest toolbox of electronic aids. You genuinely start to believe you can defy physics – it fires you around corners like a catapult.”