Lotus Evora 414E review

* Range-extender version of the Evora * Explores the potential for eco-friendly sports cars * Not for sale, but some of its technology will be...

Lotus Evora 414E review

The Lotus Evora 414E is an experimental, hybrid version of the Evora sports car.

Instead of the standard cars petrol V6 engine, the 414E is propelled by a pair of 201bhp electric motors, which can blast the Lotus from 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds.

The cars battery pack can be charged from either a plug socket or on the move by a 1.2-litre petrol engine.

The result is an Evora that can travel 30 miles purely on electricity, and 300 miles on a combination of petrol and battery power, with average CO2 emissions of just 55g/km.

Whats the Lotus Evora 414E like to drive?
There are some surprisingly quick hybrid cars already on sale, but the 414E will embarrass any of them.

It delivers bullet-like acceleration, along with a near-silent power delivery, which fools you into thinking youre going slower than you actually are.

The instant zip is a thrill, and is made all the more enjoyable because the Evora corners so enthusiastically.

We tested the 414E on a racetrack, but theres no doubt this compact and rapid mid-engined Lotus would be utterly entertaining on public roads, too.

It should also be easy to drive in town, because it has only one forward gear, effectively making it an automatic.

However, future prototypes will have artificial gears that can be engaged using paddles. The paddles will work in conjunction with a so-called Halosonic sound system, which generates synthetic noise to simulate the aural experience of driving a powerful petrol-powered sports car.

Lotus has yet to engineer any noise suppression into the 414E, so the three-cylinder petrol engine sometimes sounds a bit like a diesel-engined cabin cruiser edging towards a mooring. The fact that the petrol engine sometimes kicks in when youre decelerating seems odd, too, but its the needs of the battery rather than the demands of your right foot that fire it up.

Whats the Lotus Evora 414E like inside?
The 414E is much the same inside as a standard Evora 2+2, except that the space where the rear seats usually are is occupied by the lithium-ion battery pack.

The 414E has no boot either this space has been taken over by the electric motors power inverters.

Getting into the car could be easier, but once you are in, the driving position is surprisingly comfortable. Unusually, theres no gearlever, so you select park, reverse, neutral and drive by pushing the relevant button on the centre console.

Although vastly better finished than Lotus interiors used to be, the Evoras interior isnt anywhere near as classy as a Porsche Caymans. However, the suede-covered dashboard adds some appeal, as do the diamond-stitched bucket seats.

Should I buy one?
Unfortunately, you wont be able to. The Evora 414E is a complex rolling test-bed, commissioned to develop new technologies and showcase the talents of Britains electric vehicle component suppliers which it does to great effect.

Lotus Engineering has discovered huge amounts about controlling electric motors accurately, battery temperature management and packaging such a large amount of complex technology into such a small space.

Lotus Engineering consults to the wider car industry, so we could well see the results of its labours in more mainstream cars over the coming years.