Lotus Evora

Words ByJim Holder

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Lotus has launched its first all-new model in 13 years at the British Motor Show.

The car, called the Evora, will be the only mid-engined 2+2 sportscar in production and will offer 'real-world usability and a unique sense of occasion' - meaning it will put itself up against the likes of Porsche's 911 in the practical performance car stakes.

Under the bonnet will sit a powerful 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine from Toyota, which has been tweaked by Lotus to give greater performance.

From the outside, there's little to suggest the Evora's practicality, because Lotus has deliberately disguised its 2+2 layout to give it the athletic, agile look of modern Lotus cars.

The cabin has all the creature comforts of a luxury cruiser, including a touch-screen sat-nav, Bluetooth and iPod connections and air-con.

There are also figure-hugging adjustable sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The Evora can take up to four passengers, underlining the car's practicality, although Lotus advises that the rear two seats are best reserved for children and small adults on short journeys. There are even ISOFIX points for those small enough to need a child seat.

The boot is far from useless, too, with enough space for a set of golf clubs. A fresh-air cooling system will also help prevent the engine from heating up the boot's contents.

Only 2000 cars will be produced a year, and deliveries of the Evora will start in spring next year.

Eco Elise S concept
Amid the hullabaloo surrounding the Lotus Evora, it's easy to overlook the Eco Elise S concept car.

It shows off Lotus's latest thinking on environmental issues, with body panels made from sustainable materials, and the use of water-based paintwork.

It weighs 32kg less than the regular Elise S, and has a gearchange display indicating the optimum ratio to use to conserve fuel, and solar panels set into the hemp hard-top that provide power for the electrical systems.