Lotus Cars

Lotus weighs up savings in a year of cuts

Lotus CarsLotus has revealed it’s cut a hefty 207kg from its model range in the past year alone, proving the spirit of founder Colin Chapman, whose mantra was ‘just add lightness’, is alive and well.

Significant weight savings include 70kg cut from the Lotus Evora Sport 410 over the already-honed Evora 400, 91kg from the Exige Sport 350 over the Exige S, while even the familiar Elise has benefitted from a weight reduction of 15kg.

It means even the heaviest Lotus model tips the scales at under 1,400kg – significantly lighter than even the lightest, supposedly-lightweight all-aluminium Jaguar F-Type, which in base 340hp V6 guise tips the scales at 1,537kg.

“To perfect a pure sports car, you must consider weight your enemy,” said Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales. “Lose weight and you will make significant gains: hard er and faster cornering, better braking, greater agility and responsiveness, along with faster acceleration.

“Colin Chapman famously said, ‘Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere,” and that thinking has become part of our DNA.”

Lotus Elise

As such, the inspirational new Lotus boss has, for the past few years, been running a so-called Lightweight Lab, where all Lotus models are stripped bare and each part analysed to see how to make it lighter. It’s this strategy that’s led to such significant ongoing savings.

Examples include the Lotus Exige Sport 350, where detail engineering cut the weight piece-by piece:

  • Louvred tailgate: -3kg
  • Redesigned gearshift mechanism: -3kg
  • Revised subrame: -3kg
  • Optimised body panels: -12kg

Optional carbon composite components cut another 30kg, giving the roadster a kerbweight of just 1,085kg – outrageous for a 350hp rear-drive sports car (and key to its impressive performance).

Lotus also points out its bonded aluminium chassis technology is still considered a benchmark in the automotive industry, more than 20 years since it was introduced.

Lotus Elise Chassis

Lightweight extrusions are bonded together with epoxy adhesive which means the ultra-strong chassis for the Elise and Exige weighs just 68kg. That’s half that of an equivalent steel chassis  – and, significantly, roughly the same weight as a carbon fibre chassis, despite being significantly cheaper and more adaptable.

Now, Lotus continues to find weight savings in the lightweight lab, with Gales coining the phrase, ‘the Lotus approach to light is right engineering’.

So, 207kg has been cut in a single year alone. How much more lightness can be added?

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