End of the Road

Lotus announces that 2021 is the end of the road for the Evora, Exige, and Elise

The Lotus Exige Sport 410 20th Anniversary debuted last year to celebrate the milestone birthday of the model.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Lotus is turning the page. The company, now majority-owned by Geely, the parent company of Volvo and Polestar, is moving into more exotic territory. That means that it needs to bid adieu to three models as part of a larger Vision80 strategy.

The Lotus Evora, Exige, and Elise will exit the lineup after 2021. Lotus has announced that their production will end by December 31, but an exact manufacturing timeline is publicly unknown. Replacing the models is a new series of sports cars based on the Lotus Type 131 prototype, among others.

The new cars will be manufactured at a facility in Hethel, Norfolk, England. The strategy will ultimately result in the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one central operation in Norwich to support higher volumes of production and sales.

Lotus EvijaThe Lotus Evija hypercar is the company's future.Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

That move is a £100-million-plus investment in the facilities that includes hiring of 250 employees. This is in addition to the 670 employees that the company has recruited since 2017, when Geely and Etika took ownership of the company.

The Lotus Elise debuted in 1995 showing off a body made of extruded and bonded aluminium, and lightweight composites. In May 2020, the Lotus Elise Classic Heritage Editions debuted, showing off unique paint jobs that are a nod to days past, and offering an enhanced exterior and interior spec over the Elise Sport 220 on which they're based.

In 2000, the Exige launched as the Lotus 'race car for the road'. In June 2020, the company debuted the Lotus Exige Sport 410 20th Anniversary to mark the model's birthday.

Lotus launched the Evora in 2008, marking the company's return to the super sports car sector. In January 2020, a cheaper version of the car, designed to better fit the daily driver lifestyle, was offered.

A plug-and-play digital instrument pack was made available in mid-2020 giving drivers of the three cars in the current lineup access to lap recording ability for over 4,000 race tracks.

Lotus Lotus has released this image teasing three future cars the company plans to produce.Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Lotus

By the time production is over, Lotus will have sold 55,000 units of the Elise, Exige, and Evora combined.

Lotus recently released video of the forthcoming Evija hypercar taking to the track, unleashing its 1,973 horsepower. The company's engineering team has bragged about its capability and it's safe to say a lot is expected of the model.

Though they're looking forward, the company is also giving an approving nod to its past, delivering its first Certificate of Provenance to a 1981 Turbo Esprit that was driven by Margaret Thatcher. Further certifications are underway.

In April, Lotus celebrated the 35th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's first Formula 1 win (in a Lotus) with a special edition podcast dedicated to the late, great racer.

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The Emira will be Lotus' last gas-powered car.

Lotus

Automakers of all sizes and shapes are going electric, and tiny British automaker Lotus is no exception. Known for building small, impossibly lightweight cars with amazing handling, Lotus is rolling out one last fossil fuel-burning sports car before its world changes completely.

Lotus EmiraThe Emira will be available with a four- or six-cylinder engine. Lotus

Lotus says the Emira will be its last gas-powered vehicle before its shift to an all-electric lineup. The Emira is available with both a V6 and a twin-turbocharged inline four-cylinder - a version of the world's most powerful four-banger. Orders for the V6 model have far exceeded expectations, and the automaker notes that traffic to its website has grown considerably due to the car's popularity.

Lotus borrowed the engine from AMG, but the power numbers are different than the specs announced in 2019. At that time, Mercedes-AMG noted that the engine could produce up to 416 horsepower, but Lotus is only squeezing 360 ponies out of the inline-four. That said, Lotus' ability to build featherweight performance cars means that 360 horsepower will be plenty to motivate the Emira with enthusiasm. An eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard and brings paddle shifters to a Lotus for the first time.

A load of options are available for the car, including seven interior color options, six exterior colors, four options packages, and multiple wheel designs. Though some sports and luxury automakers hold the best options back to charge more, Lotus offers a surprising number of standard features, including 12-way power seats with memory, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

Lotus EmiraSeveral colors and options will be available. Lotus

Reservations for the First Edition model open on April 8 for customers in the UK with deliveries starting later in 2022. The Emira First Edition starts at $85,900, while the entry-level four-cylinder model starts at around $79,000. Lotus says more specs and pricing details will be made available this summer.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTSMy SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTSThe pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTSI'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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