Hot News: Lotus to Build Small Car?

It’s the hybrid supermini with sports car DNA! Just when you thought Lotus had enough new models on its plate, our sources have revealed that the company is readying its biggest surprise yet – and our detailed images show just how the MINI rival will look.

Dubbed internally as the Lotus Global Small Car, the hatch will be based on one of its parent firm’s prototypes – the Proton EMAS concept, shown at March’s Geneva Motor Show. The plan is to sell a Proton-badged five-door version in Malaysia, and a more premium three-door Lotus variant in other markets around the world, including the UK.

Lotus’ ambitious plans for the Paris Motor Show, where it’s set to reveal a swarm of upmarket models including the reborn Esprit and two front-engined GTs, have been criticised for ditching the marque’s core philosophy of ‘simplifying and adding lightness’. And being neither a performance nor a sports car, this supermini is the firm’s boldest move yet.

The EMAS Concept was penned by Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro, so the Lotus derivative doesn’t lack style. A trapezoid front grille, flanked by triangular vents with LED running lights, plus slot-like headlights, create an aggressive front end.

Alloys which fill the arches and an aero kit finish off the sporty styling cues. On the inside, body-hugging Recaro seats boost the Lotus’ hot hatch credentials. Unusually, though, it’s what you can’t see that will really grab people’s attention. Hidden under the skin is a ground-breaking plug-in hybrid powertrain with the potential to return economy of more than 100mpg.

In a similar vein to Vauxhall’s Ampera, it has a bank of batteries under the floor and an electric motor on the back axle, driving the rear wheels. Sandwiched between is a fuel tank which supplies a Lotus-designed 50bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder range-extender engine in the front.

Electric power alone is expected to last for 30 miles – plenty for the average commute – effectively making this a zero-emissions vehicle for certain users.

A full charge should take around three hours from a 240V socket. But when greater distances need to be covered, the three-cylinder combustion engine kicks in and keeps the batteries topped up via a generator.

Lotus currently sells around 2,000 models a year, but with its tidal wave of new models the plan is to increase that figure to nearer 8,000 – and this hybrid hatch is a key component. Expect to see a prototype of the car at this year’s Paris expo, and a production version as soon as 2012. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express


Post a Comment

Copyright © Automotive News & Concepts. All Rights Reserved.