Winner of the ‘One to Watch’ gong in the TopGear.com Electric Awards, it’s the £2.4m Lotus Evija. Well, a prototype of the upcoming electric hypercar. And we’ve got the world exclusive first drive video for you, with Magazine editor Jack Rix behind the wheel. Can a 1,600bhp electric prototype really handle like the cars of Lotus legend? Let’s find out. Series 29: Geneva Online Motor Show: First Look: Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?
all right let’s just um let’s come to a little stop here got a straight in front of me and see what this car can do don’t need to bother with launch control you just stand on whoa holy oh my god that is fast oh my word because there’s no gear changes the shove is just completely relentless and it feels naturally aspirated the acceleration actually ramps up the faster you go so that’s our answer to question one isn’t it is the load the survive fast yes yes it is and this is a prototype it’s only running 70 75 of its full power there’s more to come this is the lotus avaya lotus’s first electric car and one of a trident of electric hyper cars coming our way this year the others being the closely related rimac c2 and pininfarina batista in finished form the 130 examples will cost 2.4 million pounds each but then lotus is promising 1972 brake horsepower not 62 in under three seconds naught to 124 miles an hour in six seconds and perhaps most startling of all that it’ll go from 124 to 186 miles an hour in half the time it takes a bugatti chiron but those target numbers are for later today we’re first in the world to get behind the wheel of a prototype and experience this extraordinary machine first hand before customers get their cars later this year or early next so yes this is a prototype which means it comes with certain limitations power is limited to a mere 1600 brake horsepower and we have only 1250 pounds feet of torque i think we’ll probably make do not 62 in this prototype 3.3 seconds top speed is capped at 140 miles an hour and then you get to the safety system so we’ve got no esc we’ve got no traction control we’ve got no active aero we haven’t got the torque vectoring switched on yet we’ve only got very basic abs system so i need to keep my widths about me and as you can probably see the interior isn’t quite finished yet but no matter because today we’re on lotus’s hethel test track and stitch leather and infotainment screens that can wait for another day we’re here to find out what this car is like to drive how it moves can an electric car ever really feel like a lotus the elephant in the room then is weight lotus is godfather of the lightweight british sports car philosophy always placing delicacy precision and feel way above sledgehammer performance but the avaya appears to have gone the other way so what lotus has done in a bid to make this the lightest car in its class is fit it with a 69 kilowatt hour battery that’s a smaller battery than you get in a top spec vw id3 it’s way smaller than the 120 kilowatt hour battery you get in a rimac c2 and way way smaller than the supposed 200 kilowatt hour battery that elon musk wants to fit to the tesla roadster if that car ever makes production of course now the decision is logical lotus’s priorities are handling and agility they always have been but it’s a decision that comes with obvious drawbacks when you have a car that’s this fast today we’re having to plan our whole schedule around the fact that on a single charge it will do just 15 laps flat out about 30 miles or it will go for an hour or so if we keep the speeds down eventually it’ll be capable of a full charge in 18 minutes but that all depends on having a 350 kilowatt charger in the pit lane at your local trackpad but on the flip side it only weighs 1680 kilograms which is about the same as a new 911 turbo so when you start to lob the car around it really starts to come alive there is actually a little bit of body roll in here which i wasn’t expecting but the car’s got a lovely natural balance it feels like it’s working all four tires evenly and a big part of that is the fact that lotus made a decision not to put the batteries under the floor where most electric cars put them but to put the stack behind us so it’s got a more traditional mid-engine handling balance and rotates really nicely into the corners who knows there might be a little bit of lotus dna in here after all right so the steering um always so crucial in a lotus they always get it so right and it’s the one thing i was a bit worried about with the avaya but they’ve got it absolutely bang on it weights up beautifully in the corners i really know what those front tires are doing a plus the brakes yes so when this car is in its full production trim you’re going to have various driving modes city tour sport and track and as you go into the more hardcore modes it will be pure friction pad on disk in the lower modes it’ll be regen to begin with that’s bleeding into friction we’ve got full friction today and they feel great just like a lotus should easy to modulate i know what’s going on underneath me again a star for that so we’ve got quad motors four motors two on the front axle two on the back axle for four wheel drive at the moment the torque split is 25 front 75 rear so in the wet it actually feels very rear biased it wants to oversteer i was expecting to tell you about this very neutral feel there is lots and lots of grip despite having quite modest 265 width um front tyres but there we go look i just tickled the throttle and with all that torque he wants to go sideways when we’re unleashed in the finished thing it’s going to be a lot of fun and when it’s not raining there’s going to be a lot of smoke as well oh my god but here’s the funny thing i’ve been driving around in this car now for i don’t know an hour or so and to begin with it was a bit overwhelming don’t get me wrong this car is rapid properly rapid but i’m now used to the show i’ve now recalibrated my brain and actually i wouldn’t mind that extra 400 horsepower the lotus has got in the locker bring it on but the one thing i will notice is i do always have my eye on that pesky little range bar down there and in fact yeah in fact we’re down to uh we’re down to 15 probably time for a charge again now if you’re wondering why this car looks like a prop from the set of tron legacy that’s because it was designed by us at top gear magazine well not the actual car but the wrap you see we’ve named it our one to watch in the top gear electric awards 2021 so lotus let us loose with the crayons to create a cover star for our amazing glow-in-the-dark electric awards mag and if you haven’t bought one yet please do so immediately okay so you join us in a place that has quite a special place in the history of lotus this building here is called factory three uh much like the special ops department it’s where they’re gonna build the avaya but in the past it’s where they’ve also built the vx-220 and the lotus carton and we’re here inside this inspection tunnel because where better to inspect the design of the lotus evaya and it’s a gorgeous gorgeous looking car a few of the panels are a little bit ratty on this one because it’s a pre-production prototype but you can see the shape in all its glory i love the nose just low simple flat across there handily we’ve picked out most of the feature lines with this reflective green tape with our top gear livery and you’ll notice that there isn’t a harsh angle in sight they all flow along the side of the car with these lovely organic shapes and they haven’t just stuck arrow bits on here and there wings vents slashes no the arrow is done by taking bits away so you’ve got these enormous venturi tunnels that run through the side of the car and help the rear diffuser do its best work and create all that downfalls you do have a pop-up rear spoiler but apart from that you’ve got this uninterrupted flowing shape and it’s absolutely gorgeous for me it’s proof that you can use classic mid-engine supercar proportions but still produce something that’s interesting and different and this shape won’t be a one-off either there’s lots more to come from lotus including a new combustion engine sports car that’s going to drop this summer and there’s a new boss in the hot seat too matt windall formerly the head of engineering now the new managing director and we caught up with him to find out what his plans involve so matt thank you so much for having us down and congrats on the new job thank you very much how long has it been two months couple of months yeah all right we’re going to get the really important questions out the way first what do you think of the top gear rap ah it’s superb this takes me back to my childhood because tron was the first film i ever saw at the cinema it’s uh it’s amazing i can’t wait to see the uh cover photo as well so anyway the violet i’ve been out on track today i came here with the big question in my head was can an electric car really be a lotus i feel like we’ve been out there for an hour or so i’ve already answered that it really handles beautifully my big question is this is very much a prototype when do customers get their first cars sadly not as soon as we hoped um as as we know with the pandemic that we’re all involved in actually a lot of this testing we need to do abroad um high speed testing uh the apple testing needs to be done in germany things like that and we’re just not able to get the cars there at the moment we hope to do that this year as restrictions come down with the virus there so our plan is to be in production this year and then we’ll get the customer deliveries as soon as we can after that okay all right and what’s what’s up what’s the timeline because is there another prototype stage after this yeah so these are vp so the validation prototypes then we do a tt so that’s where we we call that tool in tryout so that will be all the parts off production tools which actually these are already anyway so it’s just then getting those tools tuned getting them right for the quality um we’ll be doing that later this year then we’re we’re honing in on production spec then and the thing with these is they’re all going to be quite unique so everyone will be quite individual to the to the customers so we’ll we’ll build them up as we go through but we’re talking today in the via production hall it’s ready ready to go we just um we’ll build the prototypes in here that way we get manufacturing and technical working closely together so when we go into production phase it’s just an easy hand over and they’re ready to go just in a nutshell the avaya then um you know this project was well underway before you became md but of course you’re working on it as well it’s a halo car obviously um just give us the sort of um the the elevator pitch on on why you’re doing the avaya yeah what we wanted to do was when we started out um in our vision 80 plan as we call it which is our 10-year strategic plan at the start we realized we needed to do something that could demonstrate that what lotus is what the brand is um and i’ve said before we were pretty agnostic about the powertrain at that point however we realized that the opportunities were electric and how how great we could match that to the aesthetics and then what we could do with the weight it very soon became um it became a lotus for us i think you’ve seen that today that with the dynamics you know inputs equal outputs the corners you can still see it feels like driving a lotus and we knew with the product plan that we were going to go to electrification everybody’s going to have to with legislation so this was another great halo product for us to start on that journey so before we go to the full electrification plan um what’s next then it’s type type 131 right so what can you tell me about that when when’s it coming give me as much information as you’re allowed so type 131 uh is a next generation sports car um we’ve now announced the end of our existing of all release and exige served us fantastically well for the years they they have but we need to move on so type 131 will be a sports car that is very much the follow-on from those in the range same dynamics same performance same um feel but much more daily usable much more comfort brand new electronics so it’s pretty much a brand new car from the ground up i’m really excited about it it’s gorgeous for a start when do we get to see it uh june this uh july the 6th july the 6th so there we go there’ll be more news at the end of this month on april the 27th when we’ll name it and then july the 6th is the public display and then we’ll be at goodwood july the 8th dynamic displays and then that’s when people will be able to get close to the cars and and and it should it all goes well see quite a big leap in volumes for you so 1500 cars a year at the moment and what’s the what’s the goal with the yeah so on i’ve just taken you in and just showing you very quickly the new production facility so yet again it’s another new factory we’re putting in automated paint shop improved quality we need to we need to set a new quality target for for lotus and we have ambitions to be up there with the top oems um so but we’ve also got volume aspirations and that starts with type 131 we’ll be going to a peak of about 5 000 a year on on a single shift if they sell like hot cakes as i hope we can put another shift in and we can increase that volume so it’s at least three times the volume jump for us and that’s where we need to get to as a brand volume brings you the revenue that then allows you to reinvest in the product so we can keep doing sports cars sports cars yeah see in the cars that we love um so one type one through one the last combustion engine car you’ll ever do um so what comes after that what’s suvs saloons where does where where does the lotus brand end we will go into new markets and new segments um i won’t go into the details of that today but they will still be core lotus be it their design the engineering the attributes the driver feel we want to keep them there it’s like you said with this it’s um it’s the heaviest car lotus has ever produced but it’s still the lightest in its class by some way sort of 16 1700 kilos and that’s what we’ll always do you know those core dna elements for us around lightweight and dynamics and handling you people kind of say well how could you do that on a different product but i think we’ve demonstrated it on here that as long as you keep to those core principles and uh the one thing i love talking about in here is is the dash beam which is structural but it also carries the hvac components and it supports the steering column so it’s doing two or three jobs and we get that’s when we get excited and just just in general then to finish where do you want to take the brand where did you see the brand in 10 years in terms of volume market positioning awareness the kind of range of cars that you’re going to produce are there brands out there that you think you know i want to be where ferrari is or porsches or or others yeah i’m i’m kind of really careful that we don’t compare to other brands because i think lotus has always been quite individual and we’ll do our own thing but the the aim is we’re going to have to be a global company we will have global manufacturing facilities we already have global engineering and design facilities that are within the lotus business but also with our sister companies that under the julie umbrella that we’ve got the the investment in lotus alone over the next 10 years is going to be measured in billions not hundreds of millions billions so the product range that’s going to come from that and the facilities investment is huge and that’s where we’re going you know we want to be we want to be talking about tens of thousands of cars in the future rather than where we are that’s you know 1500 cars we’ve got a lot to do we got to grow our brand we got to grow our retail strategy we’ve got to we’ve we’re changing everything and we’ve done we’ve done the stuff that maybe isn’t that sexy we’ve done high voltage rings we’ve done it systems processes all of those things now you’re going to start seeing the products you’ve seen this and experienced it today you’ve only got three months you’ll see type one through one and then towards the end of the year there’ll be more news on what’s coming next as well well we’re all about the products at top gear so um thank you for having us it sounds massively exciting um and i’m sure we’ll be catching up very soon yeah absolute pleasure lovely to have you here and i’m glad you enjoyed the car you