Lotus has always been recognised worldwide as THE manufacturer of lightweight sports cars. This reputation, developed and honed right from the early days of Lotus, was a direct result of Colin Chapman’s technical leadership and unrelenting passion to make a car lighter, more responsive and ultimately faster. Indeed, he famously said: “Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere”. But being lightweight has other measurable benefits. A lighter car needs less energy to propel it, stops sooner, corners harder, accelerates faster and uses less fuel. It is also more efficient, not just in fuel consumption, but in tyre and brake wear as well. Of course, it produces less by way of emissions too.
The unique bonded aluminium chassis that defines a modern Lotus, provides extreme strength and rigidity – an essential part of the Lotus ethos. Introduced for the construction of the groundbreaking Elise in 1995, no welding is involved, meaning there is no distortion from heat and that great structural strength and incredibly precise tolerances can be maintained.
Lotus Lightweight Laboratory was born in August 2014 when Lotus was working on the Evora 400 to ensure that the new car was as light as possible. The Lightweight Laboratory is about component optimisation through redesign, change of material, change of supplier or integration – replacing several parts with one.
As Jean-Marc Gales, Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer, explains: “To perfect a pure sports car, you must consider weight your enemy. Lose weight and you will make significant gains – harder and faster cornering, better braking, greater agility and responsiveness, along with faster acceleration.” Far more than just boosting straight-line performance, reducing a car’s kerb weight allows for the correct calibration of the suspension for sharper handling and better body and roll control – but not at the expense of ride comfort and composure.
The overall reduction of weight also allows for optimised weight distribution, greatly contributing to the poise and balance of a sports car during high-speed cornering. And that’s why Lotus is always weighing up the options.