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Lotus City Car Concept - A Lotus for the Masses?

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Luc Gagné
At the 2010 Paris Auto Show, British manufacturer Lotus turned the establishment on its head by unveiling nothing less than an entire range of new vehicles. Yes, the wraps were taken off five performance coupes and sedans that the Hethel automaker will soon be producing. And, in true Lotus tradition, each one sports a moniker starting with the letter E: Esprit, Elan, Elite, Elise and Eterne.

Photo: Matthieu Lambert/Auto123.com

But this superspectacle also included a less extravagant sixth star, a diminutive concept car that had nothing to do with the performance world. Of a rather humble design, the microcar is even affordable – and if it ever makes it into production, it will be valued for a feature that is generally never associated with Lotus: low CO2 emissions. Could it be that this City Car’s name doesn’t start with an E because Lotus is trying to set it apart from the rest of its progeny?

A showcase for technology
This concept car is a showcase for some of the electronic and electric solutions developed by Lotus Engineering.

It’s designed around a new rechargeable hybrid powertrain (gas/electric) dubbed Lotus Range Extender. The Range Extender is comprised of a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder mill fueled by ethanol, methanol or gas. This 48-hp mill is coupled with an engine plugged into a 14.8-kWh battery (Lotus didn’t specify the type).

Under ideal conditions, the City Car can travel up to 100 kilometres in electric mode alone. That would be enough to get the majority of city-dwellers through their daily commute. The three-cylinder engine justifies the Range Extender handle, allowing the munchkin to extend its operating range up to 500 kilometres, i.e. when the battery is empty and you haven’t reached your destination.

The automaker didn’t include any actual fuel consumption ratings in its press release. However, Lotus didn’t hesitate to claim that this mircrocar, weighing in under 1,400 kilos, has got gumption. In electric mode, its 177 ft-lb of almost instant torque would supposedly ensure 0-50 km/h accelerations in 4.5 seconds, with the 0-100 km/h sprint taking 9 seconds.

Photo: Lotus
Luc Gagné
Luc Gagné
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • Over 59 test drives in the past year
  • Attended over 150 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists