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Lotus Exige V6 Cup takes extreme to the extreme

07/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Videos, Lotus

Lotus Exige V6 Cup

What separates a road car from a race car? You're looking at it. It's the Lotus Exige V6 Cup, a model based on what is already one of the most hardcore performance machines on the road, albeit upgraded to an even harder-core spec. It's a good 130 pounds lighter than the Exige S (a vehicle which didn't have much flab to trim in the first place) and can hit 60 in under four seconds. With the notably exception of certain versions of the Porsche 911, there aren't a lot of six-cylinder cars that can claim that kind of performance.

In fact, the Exige V6 Cup is so close to race spec that it's already eligible for a number of racing series. Just bolt in the removable FIA-certified roll cage, maybe swap on some slick tires and you're good to go. Then you can drive it home again when you're done, just like in sports car racing's heyday. But don't take our word for it: the team over at XCar took the V6 Cup to the UK's Goodwood circuit to see how it compared to the Exige S it recently drove, and you can view the stirring results in the video below.

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Check out these cool jazz tracks inspired by great cars of the '70s

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Etc., Videos, Dodge, Lamborghini, Lotus, Saab

There's nothing like taking a drive with the perfect song playing that matches the mood and moment. When the rhythms sync up with the undulating road, the whole experience gets just a little bit better. Danish jazz-fusion band Elektrojazz understands the connection between music and driving, and it has a new album called Cars with each track inspired by a specific vehicle of the 1970s. The era might be known for some real clunkers, but you don't have to look too hard to find classics from the groovy decade, as well.

Instead of picking the cars themselves, the members of Elektrojazz put up a poll on the band's website allowing people to vote for their favorites. The most popular vehicle in each category made it onto the album. The final list definitely skews towards European sports cars of the era, with choices like the Lotus Esprit and Lamborghini Countach, but there are some definite outliers like the AMC Pacer and Saab 99 Turbo.

"Some of my favorites didn't make it," said Elektrojazz member Anders Larson to Autoblog via email. He would have liked the Porsche 928 and Jaguar XJS to make the cut, among several others. Although, he hinted that another car-inspired album could be on the way.

Each ride gets its own style of jazz to go along with it, too. The song about the 1970 Dodge Challenger sounds like you could drop it into Bullitt and no one would notice. However, the one about the Pacer uses some Latin-tinged blues. Scroll down to watch a video that previews all of the groovy tracks on the album. It's available for sale on the band's website and on iTunes.

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Lotus drops Renault for Mercedes F1 engines

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Lotus, Mercedes Benz, Renault

Lotus and Mercedes in F1

With only three manufacturers supplying engines in Formula One this season, the teams have been fairly evenly split: Ferrari, Sauber and Marussia use Ferrari engines; Mercedes, McLaren, Williams and Force India run on Mercedes power; Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham employ Renault power units. But one important team is reportedly preparing to ditch Renault and switch to Mercedes for next year.

That team is Lotus, an outfit which has fallen off its pace the past few seasons but which has still been a vital partner for Renault. That's because until a few seasons ago, the team based in Enstone, UK, was owned by Renault and bore the company's name. The operation was founded in 1981 as Toleman, was rechristened Benetton in 1986, bought by Renault 2000, taking the company's name in 2002, sold to its current owners Genii Capital 2009 and adopting the black and gold Lotus livery in 2011. As Benetton, it ran Ford engines until switching to Renault in 1995, sticking with the French outfit ever since, but that decades-long partnership - which meandered through Renault ownership and back out again - is now apparently drawing to a close.

The departure of Lotus as a customer team ought to allow Renault to focus instead on its increasing ties with Red Bull, which has taken the Enstone team's place as Renault's principal team. It could prove a smart move for the Lotus team as well, as the Mercedes engines have been outperforming the Renault units this season by an order of magnitude: not only is Mercedes far outpacing Red Bull at the top of the standings, but each of Mercedes' customer teams is performing better than Renault's clients.

The deal will also keep the list of clients at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (née Ilmor Engineering) on an even keel as McLaren similarly ditches its long-term partnership with Mercedes next season as it brings Honda back onto the grid. Though Marussia and Toro Rosso have yet to announce their engine suppliers for next season, the other teams are expected to stick with their current partnerships.

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Lotus recalls 2008-2011 Elise, Exige and 2011 Evora over fire fear

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Recalls/TSBs, Lotus

Lotus Exige S 260

2011 Lotus EvoraLotus is recalling 860 vehicles after discovering that the oil cooler hose could detach from its fitting. Should the hose separate, it could spray oil on one of the lightweight car's tires, giving new meaning to the phrase "sudden loss of grip." The other case is, believe or not, more dire, as the spraying oil could hit the engine and ignite. Of course, neither situation is desirable, hence the recall.

The vast majority of the affected vehicles (780 of the 860) are the 2008 to 2011 Elise and Exige, built between November 2007 and July 2011. Another 80 Evora S coupes from 2011, manufactured between September 2010 and September 2011, are also included in the recall.

All repairs will, naturally, be completed free of charge. In the Elise/Exige's case, that means replacing the hose fittings, while the affected Evoras will get a new hose assembly.

Scroll down for the official bulletin from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Elise Time Attack could be most extreme Lotus yet

07/07/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Videos, Lotus, Racing

Lotus Elise Time Attack

The Lotus Elise has given birth to some seriously fast and varied machinery. Aside from Lotus' own models like the Exige, 2-Eleven, 340R and Europa, electric vehicles like the Tesla Roadster, not to mention the never-released Dodge Circuit and Detroit Electric SP:01, are all based on the Elise's platform. As were/are the Melkus RS 2000, the Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 and the Hennessey Venom GT. But this could be the most extreme use of the lightweight chassis yet.

This Series 1 Elise has been built by one performance-obsessed Brit with a single purpose: to compete in the UK's Time Attack championship. For those unfamiliar, Time Attack is something like a rally or a hillclimb event, only it takes place on a racing circuit. Each vehicle goes out on the track by itself and sets the best time it can, without needing to worry about other competitors until the finish line is crossed and it's the next racer's turn. That's what drove Lee to modify his Lotus so thoroughly, with more wings, diffusers, flaps and carbon fiber than a Boeing factory. Check it out in the video below.

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The Stig breaks into Lotus F1 HQ

06/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Lotus, Celebrities, Racing

The Stig at Lotus F1 HQ

As Top Gear's mysterious test driver, The Stig has driven just about everything on wheels - and more than a few things without. But an F1 car? That still remains a rarity, even on Top Gear.

That all changes in this latest promo clip, though. The video shows what happened when his Royal Stigness arrived at the headquarters of the Lotus F1 team in Enstone, England, where he somehow managed to scan his way in past security and got his hands on a Lotus-Renault E21, the V8-powered single-seater that Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean drove in the 2013 Formula One World Championship - and which the Stig will apparently be driving on stage during the upcoming Top Gear Festival in Durban. If you're not heading to South Africa this month, though (or even if you are), you can check out the footage in the video below.

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Lotus reveals new LMP1 at Le Mans

06/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Lotus, Racing

2014 Lotus P1/01 LMP1

Lotus is at Le Mans this week where it has unveiled its new LMP1. Only it's not racing at Le Mans. And it's not really a Lotus, either.

The prototype belongs to an independent German team that ran a Lotus chassis in the LMP2 category last year, but was granted license by the FIA and ACO to step up to the top-tier LMP1 category to dice it with the front-running hybrids from Audi, Porsche and Toyota this year. Unfortunately, the team - which licenses the Lotus name from the automaker, much as the F1 team does - faced some setbacks. Not the least of those delays resulted from a mid-stream switch in engine suppliers from the Audi-sourced, naturally aspirated V8 it was originally set to use to a new turbocharged V6 from Advanced Engine Research.

As a result it wasn't ready for the Silverstone race that kicked off this season's World Endurance Championship in April. Nor was it ready for the second round at Spa in May or not for the headline event this weekend at Le Mans, but it aims to be on the track at the next round in Austin.

The Lotus P1/01 will be driven by former F1 driver Chrisitjan Albers, along with Le Mans veterans Christophe Bouchut, Thomas Holzer, Pierre Kaffer and James Rossiter. "For sure, it's strange to be here and not race," said Albers, "but the team is definitely remaining positive about the rest of the season, anything can happen in this sport."

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Lotus honors F1 efforts with limited-edition Exige LF1

06/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Lotus

Lotus Exige LF1

Lotus has announced a new, special edition of its hardcore Exige for customers in the UK and Europe. Limited to just 81 units (for the Lotus Formula One team's 81 victories), the new Exige LF1 is the ultimate accessory for fans of the British manufacturer's Formula One efforts.

Befitting of a car inspired by the Lotus E22, this particular Exige is finished in the team's traditional black and gold colors, complete with red accents inspired by the F1 racer. The exterior is further enhanced with unique badges that proclaim the LF1's limited-edition status. Matte gold wheels have also been fitted, just like this Lotus' big brother.

This isn't purely a paint-and-stickers job, though. Lotus has also touched up the cabin, offering up black leather and "technical fabric," complete with gold contrast stitching and piping. The seat backs and floor mats feature embroidered logos, while an individually numbered, carbon-fiber plaque sits on the LF1's dash.

Prices start at 62,900 pounds ($105,641) in the UK, which includes a 20-percent value added tax. EU customers, meanwhile, will need to shell out 65,500 euro ($88,988).

Included in the cost of the car are a few insider perks, including tours of the Lotus car and F1 factories, a life-time discount on Lotus' accessories and fashion items and a few other tchotchkes.

Take a look below for the official press release from Lotus.

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Lotus hands Pastor Maldonado a new Evora S in Monaco

05/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Lotus, Celebrities

Pastor Maldonado's new Lotus Evora S

Being a Formula One driver has its privileges. First off, you get to drive F1 cars for a living. You get treated like royalty and fly around the world. And if you're lucky, you might get a supercar thrown at you once in a while. It all depends on which team you drive for.

Fernando Alonso, for example, has had countless Ferraris, Maseratis, Abarths and Jeeps thrown his way. Lewis Hamilton was a little disappointed not to get the keys to that rare McLaren F1 LM when he won the championship. But Pastor Maldonado just got his hands on a new Lotus Evora S.

Pastor who now, you ask? Pastor Maldonado. The first Venezuelan driver in F1, Maldonado won the GP2 title in 2010 then made the jump to F1, driving for Williams for the past three seasons, impressively winning the Spanish Grand Prix in 2012. Now he's at Lotus filling Kimi Raikkonen's seat, and took delivery of his white Evora - complete with 3.5-liter supercharged V6 and six-speed sequential gearbox - in Monte Carlo last weekend during the Monaco Grand Prix.

It might not be quite as fast as his Lotus-Renault E22, but considering that Maldonado has yet to score a single championship point this season - in fact he's failed to make it to the finish line as many times as he has in 2014 - maybe the Evora will prove a more reliable performer for him.

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Lotus settles with ex-CEO Dany Bahar, avoids London High Court

05/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Hirings/Firings, Lotus, UK

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar attends the unveil

Five years after it began, it appears the Dany Bahar tenure at Lotus is finally over. After former Lotus owner Proton brought in the ex-Ferrari and Red Bull marketing savant to run the company in 2009, everything had gone pear-shaped by 2012: Proton had been sold to Malaysian auto supplier DRB-Hicom, who suspended Bahar and then fired him for what it said were expense-account transgressions (although Bob Lutz reportedly said something different).

The separation led to the expected suit and countersuit, Lotus going after Bahar to get its money back, Bahar filing a $10.6-million suit againt Lotus for wrongful termination and potential bonus money. The case was set to go to trial next month but both parties have settled, the terms undisclosed, a DRB-Hicom statement saying only that "the parties involved in the legal suit have signed a Settlement Agreement and Release... and have agreed to withdraw their claims against each other."

Now that that bit of housecleaning is all cleared up, can new CEO Jean-Marc Gales please get our Esprit?

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