We wanted to hear from Lotus about why their new lineup appears to contradict Lotus tradition of lightweight sports cars. Instead, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar told us Lotus was making its cars fat because it wants to.
First a little background: We wanted to talk to Lotus. Lotus supposedly wanted to talk to Jalopnik. Yet our first interview was cancelled when we showed up. We came back with another idea: Take a walk around the new Elise and the old Elise with Lotus' chief technical gurus, to show us why the new bulk was necessary.
Every automaker in the world faces pressure to grow their vehicles. A large part of that comes from increasingly tough crash restrictions that require better protection for passengers from all angles. It's a tall order, especially for small cars, and more so for a small manufacturer.
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But this is Lotus, the sports car company founded and sustained upon Sir Colin Chapman's axiom "simplify, then add lightness." Lotus owners prize their cars for their lack of weight, allowing them to perform amazing feats of handling on track and street. Yet since the unveiling of the "new" Lotus at the Paris Auto Show last month, with a lineup of five ever-larger cars supposedly launching in 2014, fans have wondered how this new direction comported with Chapman's words for maintaining lightness.
Our plan was to have Lotus walk us around its new Elise and old Elise and show us where weight was added, and how much had been required by safety rules. It was a great opportunity for them to get a message out that Lotus fans have not been forgotten — and that complexity was being added out of necessity, not desire. This time around, Bahar walked out and gave us a tongue-lashing, and completely rejected our premise on face. We caught a snippet of on video:
So, there's your answer, Lotus fans. You heard it here. It's not just regulations; Lotus believes cars have to get heavier because of the thinking that goes into them. That what happens when you spend less time building on Colin Chapman's legacy and more time with the brothers Baldwin.