Lotus hopes its new Europa S, unveiled today, will give its sales a welcome boost. The new car is due in 2006, and the larger, more comfortable GT model should cost under £34,000.
The new car has been designed to offer owners more space and practicality than the company's Elise and Exige models. Luxuries such as a full leather interior, airbags and carpet are all standard. Lotus is keen to stress that, despite the refinement, performance is still impressive, as the 2+2 seater will accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 5.5 seconds.
The Europa S has a bigger boot to increase its touring credentials, and Lotus is hoping to appeal to more customers by making the car more user friendly than its current models. This includes lower door sills, making it easier to get in and out, as well as increased cabin space and small rear seats.
Power is supplied by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine which produces 200bhp, propelling the car to its top speed of 140mph. Lotus is denying rumours that it plans to introduce a range-topping V6 engine to challenge the likes of the Porsche Cayman.
Prices and final specifications are yet to be set, but the new model is expected to start at around £33,000.
The new model will end a period of uncertainty for the Norfolk-based manufacturer. In 2001, the company abandoned its plans to produce a supercar, and the Europa will be the first new model from the company in six years. There are also plans to produce a larger GT, using the Esprit name, in the next two years.
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