Frankfurt 2009: Lotus

* All-new Evora * Elise special edition * Range Extender Engine...

Frankfurt 2009: Lotus

What's new?
The Evora is here and there's an Elise special edition, but the big news is Lotus's new Range Extender engine.

What is it?
The 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is designed to be used in full electric vehicles, to either power an electric motor or recharge a battery pack.

Lotus Engineering, the automotive consultancy division of Lotus, has developed the engine in collaboration with the UK Technology Strategy Board, Jaguar Cars, MIRA Ltd and Caparo Vehicle technologies. Its capabilities will be showcased in a 'large, lightweight, prestigious executive saloon with CO2 emissions of less than 120g/km'.

The Range Extender engine works in the same way as the small petrol engine fitted to the Chevrolet Volt (the basis for the Vauxhall Ampera). It doesn't ever drive the wheels, but allows an electric vehicle to travel further before it needs to be recharged.

The Range Extender engine has a maximum output of 47bhp and weighs 56kg. Lotus says that it is cost-effective thanks to its monoblock construction, where a one-piece cylinder head and block eliminates the need for a cylinder head gasket.

Durability and efficiency are also improved, says Lotus, while the lower number of parts keeps down weight and cost.

What about the cars?

The Evora is stealing the limelight at Frankfurt, but a new Elise special edition is also vying for attention.

The Elise Club Racer has a number of visual upgrades over the Elise S model it's based on. These include:

Four bespoke paintwork options: elite yellow, carbon grey, sky blue and old English white
Body-coloured interior trim with silver and black highlights
Anodised gearknob and handbrake sleeve
CR logo on the seat headrest and anodised aluminium flooring
Small-diameter steering wheel
Lightweight six-spoke alloy wheels

The Club Racer uses the same 1.8-litre engine as the Elise S, to give a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds, average fuel economy of 37.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 179g/km. It goes on sale on September 15 at 25,712.

Frankfurt display shows that Lotus has got plenty of strings to its bow.

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