First drive: 2021 Lotus Evija prototype review

99 lotus evija 2021 track drive hero front
99 lotus evija 2021 track drive hero front

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More impressive is the way that, as speeds rise well into the realm of the serious, the rate of acceleration barely diminishes. The Evija reaches its 140mph limiter with enough space left on Hethel’s longer straights to prompt me to wonder just how quickly it could go without it. Lotus predicts the finished Evija will get from rest to 186mph in nine seconds – 4.6sec quicker than a Bugatti Chiron. Such is the lack of drama, that number still feels impossible after you’ve driven the car.

Nor does the Evija feel obviously all-wheel driven. Even with the prototype’s fixed torque split, it’s hard to detect power at the steered wheels and only hitting kerbs under hard acceleration produces a sense of slight corruption. On cold tyres, the handling balance is unsurprisingly rear-endy in Hethel’s slower corners, but once the Trofeos are up to temperature, the chassis turns impressively neutral, even under big accelerator applications.

Beyond that, it can be persuaded into oversteer, although with the inside rear tyre tending to spin up first when the huge grip has finally faded. The production car’s ability to torque vector should bring more discipline.

The finished Evija will have active aerodynamics, using a hydraulically adjustable rear wing and a diffuser with active flaps, as well as venturi-generating tunnels that run through the rear flanks. Lotus hasn’t released a downforce target yet but promises the car will be able to create serious amounts of negative lift.

The prototype’s elements are fixed into a reasonably high-downforce configuration and their contribution is obvious in Hethel’s faster turns – although the steering doesn’t gain weight as the forces increase. The conservative ABS calibration and the Evija’s ability to summon big speed on even short straights also require surprisingly early braking points, given the motorsport-grade Brembo CC-R carbon-ceramic discs, and slowing down is the only time the Evija’s mass feels obvious.

Fifteen minutes of track driving bring up the big issue with enjoying the Evija’s full performance: limited range. Lotus is confident the final version will manage a 215-mile WLTP rating, but harder use will devour battery charge much more quickly. The Evija will support charging at speeds of up to 350kW, which will ultimately allow the battery to be replenished in little more time than it takes even the hardest use to empty it. But it still means attendees of high-end track days are likely to spend plenty of time standing around, even with ready access to the brawniest chargers.

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