The Lotus Europa S (Type 121) is a two-seat mid-enginedsports car, designed to be a more toned down and comfortable variant of the driver focused Lotus Elise and its derivative, the Exige. The Europa S is a modern version of the Europa line of the 1960s and 1970s.
Lotus Europa S
The Europa S features a larger boot (trunk), greater sound-proofing and easier cabin access due to the lower chassis sides and higher roof line. The Europa S includes creature comforts such as air conditioning, a sound system, leather interior and interior carpeting as standard equipment reflecting its grand touring nature.
The Europa S has a dry weight of just 995 kg (2,194 lb) achieved by an extruded and bonded aluminiumchassis with composite body panels and front crash structure.
The Europa S is a derivative of the Lotus Elise and Exige to the extent that the cars have variations of the same bonded aluminium chassis but the Europa bears a separate Lotus model designation (Type 121) due, in part, to its longer chassis and completely new design.
The mid-engine two-seat coupé has a 2.0 L turbochargedGMZ20LER Ecotecstraight-4 engine, producing 147 kW (200 PS; 197 hp) at 5,400 rpm and 272 N⋅m (201 lb⋅ft) of torque. coupled to the Getrag M32 6-speed manual transmission. This allows the car to accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in around 5.5 seconds, and 0–100 mph (0–161 km/h) in around 13.8 seconds. The Europa S can attain a maximum speed of 143 mph (230 km/h).
Lotus Europa SE
Rear View showing the SE badging
The Europa S model was not a sales success. Because of this, Lotus engineering director Roger Becker took charge of the car’s development programme and the Europa SE variant was launched, replacing the Europa S. It was an improved version of the Europa S with an upgraded engine and other driving amenities.
The Europa SE utilises the same engine as the Europa S, but is fitted with a revised turbocharger featuring a high output compressor, a re-calibrated engine controller, and a set of colder grade spark plugs. These changes provide a smoother, more linear, and enhanced torque characteristic for readily accessible engine performance, and result in a power increase to 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp) and 300 N⋅m (221 lb⋅ft) of torque.
Wheels and Tyres
The new, cast alloy 15-spoke wheels have larger width and diameter. They are fitted with Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3 tyres in 195/45 R17 on the front (increased from 175/55) and 235/40 R18 (from 225/45 R17) at the rear. This, in combination with revised suspension tuning, provides higher levels of both longitudinal and lateral grip and results in improved handling, balance and braking performance, especially in very wet conditions, whilst maintaining ride comfort and refinement.
The front and rear spring rates have been increased, along with revisions made to the internal valves of the dampers. New front damper mounting brackets are fitted together with a softer front anti-roll bar. These changes, in combination with the revised wheel/tyre equipment, provide a nose down rake and slightly lowered ride height, thus producing the aforementioned driving properties.
In order to provide greater braking performance in conditions of repeated high speed use, larger single piece front brake discs (308mm vs. 288mm) feature curved and handed internal cooling vanes and cross drilling. 4-piston, light alloy, A.P. Racing front callipers use Ferodo DS25HP pad material, also fitted to the otherwise standard rear brakes, and a re-calibration of the ABS software ensures that the greater braking potential of the new wheel/tyre/suspension package is fully used, with intervention occurring only at the threshold of grip.
The Europa SE comes as standard with the Luxury Touring Pack (optional on the 'S') and features re-styled trim panels in soft, lightweight, high grade leather.
The car was originally planned to be manufactured at parent company Proton's factory in Malaysia, allowing for a lower sale price, but ultimately the company chose the LotusHethel factory for the car's production.
Delivery of the Europa S began in September 2006 from the Lotus factory at Hethel, Norfolk. The car was not offered for sale in the United States or Canada as the Opel/Vauxhall-built turbocharger was not certified to meet emissions requirements for those countries.
The Europa S was replaced by the more potent Europa SE in 2008. Production of the Europa S amounted to 456 cars. Lotus stopped production of the Europa SE in early 2010 due to new emission standards. Only 48 cars were built thereby making it the rarest production road car ever built by Lotus.
2006 Lotus Europa S
Reviews of the Europa S were not in line with those for its sister models, the Elise and the Exige, The Sunday Times noted that while introducing a lower-revving engine (a turbocharged General Motors 1998 cc, four-cylinder) creates a more comfortable level of sound, the performance is noticeably different from the higher-revving Toyota engines, and with a heavier body shell, the performance isn't in line with the Elise or Exige. It has the same wheelbase as the Vauxhall VX220, which is longer than that of the Elise.
Jason Plato, from British TV show Fifth Gear, tested the car and generally didn't find it good enough to be a proper GT car because he thought that the car needs to be more comfortable. Presenter Jeremy Clarkson remarked on British motoring show Top Gear, "we won't even play [the review film] because it was such a dreary car."
However, Evo magazine gave the car a generally positive review after being given the chance to test a production model in Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps circuit, saying that the car was a "refreshingly mature and desirable sports car." During the same session, Evo group tested the Porsche Cayman S, BMW Z4 M and Nissan 350Z GT-S and "couldn't resist" comparing the Lotus to these three decidedly more expensive sport coupés. While the Lotus was slower than the three cars, Evo concluded that at around £33,000, it would be a very good match for the three cars' lower spec versions.
Compared to the Europa S, the SE received a fairly positive response. British magazine The Independent while reviewing the Europa SE gave it a positive reception praising its power increase and better handling over the Europa S. But it didn't consider it as a proper GT car due to its noisy air-conditioning fans and insufficient sound proofing. It also noted the use of various Vauxhall equipment in the car.
British automotive magazine Autocar described the car as "Much improved. Where the original car tended to understeer, this one is far more neutral, even at racetrack cornering speeds." The magazine praised it's responsive handling and the delivery of power, even considering it better than the Elise/Exige and more civilised for normal traffic conditions. It also described the interior as normally luxurious along with the fact that the car could be used for long journeys. But it also concluded that the cabin noise was too much for the car to be considered a proper grand tourer.
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