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TG’s guide to concepts: the Lotus Evora 414E

Long before the hybrid ‘holy trinity’, Norfolk sussed out range-extender sports cars

  1. Lotus Evora 414E front quarter

    As the car world moves into a more electrified era, we’re all having to learn a new dictionary of jargon. You might be familiar with the idea of a range-extender. If you’re not, it’s simply an electric car (powered by motors running off batteries) with its own on-board generator, in the form of a downsized petrol engine. Flat batteries but nowhere near a plug socket? The fossil fuel engine kicks in to keep the batteries alive, thus said range is extended. Unlike a true hybrid car, the engine isn’t ever connected to the driving wheels, so instant electric torque is always a throttle prod away.

    An elegant idea, but not an especially sexy one. If only it’d been applied to something low and sporty, instead of oddities like the brilliant but polarising BMW i3. Ah, that’s right – it already has been. Way back in 2010, in fact, by none other than lightweight fetishists Lotus. Meet the Evora 414E concept (again).

  2. Lotus Evora 414E

    Like a regular Evora, it’s rear-wheel drive, but there’s no supercharged V6 to spin them. Engine-wise, the Evora 414E depended on a 46bhp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine instead. This 85kg powerplant drives a generator, juicing a lithium-ion battery mounted behind the seats, which it turn drove the rear wheels via two e-motors. Each one develops 200bhp and 295lb ft, and was able to independently over- or underspeed through corners to help turn the car in tighter, managing understeer and oversteer. A process known as torque-vectoring, which you’ll have heard of since.

  3. Lotus Evora 414E interior

    It’s almost as if the 414E’s powertrain was in competition with itself to prove which was the cleverest bit. The motors aided handling, but the battery could store enough power for 35 miles of zero-emission running and be charged via a socket next to the numberplate. The engine itself was just as happy running on ethanol or any other combustible concoction as it was on unleaded. Got any Sambuca handy?

    So the acceleration wasn’t one relentless surge, Lotus engineering in gearshift ‘jolts’, to bring some sense of occasion to its futuristic Evora. Don’t like it? Turn them off. Hooray for coding, hey?

  4. Lotus Evora 414E interior

    Despite an enormous 377kg weight gain versus a standard Evora, Lotus claimed a respectable 4.4sec 0-62mph time and a 133mph top speed. CO2 emissions were rated at less than 60g/km.

    Lotus also had some fun with the noise, because having a 1.2-litre droning away to keep the battery alive isn’t much more appealing than a Prius in full CVT-panic mode. Inside, the driver could select a V6 or V12 soundtrack to be piped into the cockpit via the speakers, and presumably anything else that took their fancy so long as they were handy with an mp3 file. Lexus LFA V10, please…

  5. Lotus Evora 414E rear quarter

    The 414E was never put into production, and though we’ve seen several hybrid supercars since (from BMW i8 and Honda NSX to LaFerrari, Porsche’s 918 and the McLaren P1), the range-extender is yet to announce itself on the fast car scene. If and when it does, this copper-coloured Evora can lay claim to being its long-lost parent.

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