The 2011 Lotus Evora IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) is Lotus' first automatic since the 1980s and it is basically the entry level Evora with its 276bhp V6 engine (courtesy of Toyota) coupled with a 6 speed torque convertor automatic transmission instead of the usual 6 speed manual. It has been on sale over in Europe but it is still being tweaked for the tropics. The guys from Lotus had informed me that they just completed a round trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan and back. The main focus of attention is the new automatic transmission unit whereby they have to ensure everything works well in our hot and very humid local weather.
It gave me a chance to give the Evora IPS a once over and from what I can tell, the car is easier to live with than its Elise, Exige and to an extent, the Lotus Europa. It is a properly sized sports car for most people (including larger sized guys and gals) and is well equipped without that totally spare, track day special look of the Elise and the Exige. With the automatic transmission, you can actually use it for your commuting to work too. The only drawback is that if you like to have your morning coffee on the run it may be a problem as it somehow still lacks cupholders.
The Lotus Evora IPS is also part of Lotus' plan to capture the North American market. They seem to love automatics and this should jumpstart sales over there. Even track day favourites like the Elise and Exige which seems to be selling decently well in this region gets sidelined because the Americans aren't too bothered to shift gears by themselves.
Anyway, Lotus seems to be back on track especially after announcing their business plan at the earlier Paris Motor Show. The Lotus Esprit is confirmed for launch and will eventually get its own bespoke Lotus designed and engineered V8 engine instead of an engine from Toyota. It will be back to the good ol' days of the 1990s Lotus Esprit V8. A period when Lotus still made their own engines instead of going into survival mode. I was informed of this personally by one of the guys whom I had a chat with that day.
It has been 15 years since Proton took over Lotus and this is basically the first time they seem to be serious in turning Lotus into something special. I suppose they blokes over there finally realised that there should be some serious return of investment instead of just sticking 'Suspension by Lotus' badges on normal Protons.
The other piece of news was that the upcoming Lotus Elan is put on hold as it is too close in size and purpose as the Evora. The Evora itself is fairly new in the market and Lotus intends to keep it around for a few years longer albeit with a facelift that should make it look similar to the new Lotus styling that you can see in the new Esprit and Elan pictured herein. I suppose this is logical as the haven't actually sold too many of them around yet. Now add the fact that the Lotus Evora IPS is still fresh and still undergoing tropical weather testing , the Lotus Elan should be one of the last of the new Lotus Concept cars to be launched – or in my opinion at least after the new Esprit, Elisa and Elite.
Sometimes, we do get our little bit of sports car news first hand. I suppose it is kind of cool to actually hear that a sports car company actually conducts some testing right here in the South East Asian region.