Lotus Europa S

Lotus's Europa S is more practical than the Elise and will have no trouble finding buyers

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

If you’re in the market for a refined sports car, the Europa S isn’t it. It’s still a true Lotus, with direct steering, a firm ride and track-inspired handling. The looks aren’t quite right, but it is more practical than the Elise and features a punchy, turbocharged engine. With only limited sales, Lotus should have no trouble finding buyers prepared to pay the £5,000 extra over an Elise.

Want to drive a Lotus, but think the Elise is too impractical and the Esprit far too expensive? The good news is that the Norfolk-based manufacturer claims it has the answer with this – the Europa S.

Designed as a more versatile, comfortable and refined alternative to the firm’s little roadster, but without losing its fun appeal, the hard-top Europa goes on sale next month, priced £32,995.

Positioned against rivals such as Audi’s TT, BMW’s Z4 M Coupé and the Porsche Cayman, the Europa S is being launched into a tough market. Can it compete, and is it still an uncomprom­ising machine for enthusiasts? Auto Express took a test drive to find out.

One thing’s for sure when you lay eyes on it for the first time: it’s not quite as elegant as the Elise. There’s nothing wrong at the front – the new headlights and air intakes look great – while the roof and rear window are neat, too. But the fussy rear end spoils things.

Based on the same aluminium chassis as the Elise, yet with a slightly longer wheelbase, the Europa S offers a little more room inside. A taller roof makes access easier, while the boot capacity goes up from 112 to 154 litres.


Inside, there’s more equipment, too, and a greater emphasis on luxury. Leather upholstery, air-con and satellite navigation are all standard, although the cabin is largely unchanged from that of the Elise, and is still more stripped-out sports car than sophisticated coupé.

Factor in the roof, plus the extra kit, and weight has increased 135kg to 995kg. But with a new 197bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine from Vauxhall, the Europa S still covers 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, 0-100mph in 13.6 seconds and has a top speed of 150mph.

With lots of torque, very little turbo lag and a longer-geared six-speed transmission, the new model is far less frantic than the Elise, but it still feels very fast. However, it’s a shame Lotus didn’t fit a V6, which would have made a better noise and proved more powerful.

Nevertheless, the Europa S is quite refined, and with slightly softer suspen­sion, there’s definitely more compliancy to the ride, which means long journeys are a less tiring proposition. But Lotus makes no apologies for the fact that this is still a track-inspired sports car, with lightning reactions.

While this model won’t really appeal to mainstream buyers, it’s certainly an intriguing newcomer that should be a hit with Lotus fans wanting more practicality. And it promises to be a rare sight, too. The brand expects to sell only 500 models worldwide a year, making the Europa S a very exclusive coupé.

Most Popular

“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”
Opinion - electric car prices

“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”

Mike Rutherford thinks the industry needs to face the fact that a lot of people can’t afford a brand new factory-fresh car
16 May 2022
Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
28 Apr 2022
Shell and ABB team up to deliver world’s fastest electric car charger
Shell charger

Shell and ABB team up to deliver world’s fastest electric car charger

New Shell and ABB-developed Terra 360 EV charger can add 62 miles of range in less than three minutes
16 May 2022