Lotus Evora vs. Tesla Roadster

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 From first glance, it’s clear that the Roadster has Lotus DNA.

Lost in this explosion is the consumer’s love affair with the guzzler. Gargantuan SUVs and sports cars that get low gas mileage are in danger of going out of vogue. There has been a shift towards efficiency and simplicity, which begs the question: Is the need for luxury speed vanishing?

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, certainly doesn’t think so. The Silicon Valley-based electric car firm teamed up with British manufacturer Lotus Cars to create the Tesla Roadster, the world’s first electric supercar. In doing so, Tesla has redefined the assumption that driving electric vehicles is merely a necessary evil if you need to get someplace you can’t reach on foot or bike. The Roadster is simply exhilarating.

From first glance, it’s clear that the Roadster has Lotus DNA. The aluminum chassis, which weighs less than 200 pounds, is developed from the Lotus Elise. But don’t be fooled. Tesla stresses that the Roadster is not just an electric Lotus, and it shares no more than 10 percent of the parts. Tesla chose Lotus simply because its low power, lightweight cars are some of the best handling and thrilling drives out there.

Getting behind the wheel of an electric car is an unusual experience. Starting the car is silent and there’s no idle. There’s no clutch pedal to contend with nor the sluggishness of an automatic-just the touch of your foot and you’re off. The single-speed gearbox of the Roadster races to 60 in 3.9 seconds by virtue of the electric motor’s 248 horsepower and 280 pounds-per-foot of torque. Unlike gas-powered motors, the Roadster’s electric one weighs a mere 115 pounds and delivers 100 percent of its torque at start. When the throttle is released, the 2,700-pound car winds down to almost nothing by motor braking alone.

The interior of the Roadster isn’t necessarily gorgeous, but definitely an upgrade over its sister cars from the U.K. Doorsills are low to make entrance somewhat easy, and the leather seats are heated. The premium stereo is a single DIN JVC KD-NX5000 that features Divx and DVD playback, as well as navigation and an iPod dock. The stereo has great imaging and is positioned low on the dashboard. To the left of the steering wheel there’s an electric touch LCD that supervises battery charge, tire pressure monitors, and more.

The Roadster’s battery pack is one of the largest and most advanced in the world. It’s light, durable, recyclable, and stores enough energy from the vehicle to travel about 220 miles without recharging, something no other production electric vehicle in history can claim.

The Tesla Roadster’s base price is $109,000. Reservations for the electric supercar are open to all U.S. residents with delivery in around 12 months.

Sports car enthusiasts who aren’t as concerned about their carbon footprint will be excited to get behind the wheel of the 2010 Lotus Evora. The first totally new Lotus in nearly 15 years, the Evora looks to be a bit friendlier than previous Lotus products.

At first glance, the Evora’s fluid surfaces and fast lines create a sense of speed even when the car is completely stationary. The front view is powerful and equally as striking as the rear, where a tapered cabin, floating wing, and centrally mounted twin tailpipes combine to create a completely special look.

The Evora is slightly larger than the previous Lotus Elise and aims to provide everyday usability. The Evora enters the sports car market as the world’s only mid-engine 2+2. As with all Lotuses, the Evora extracts its high performance and agile dynamics from advanced structures and weight control rather than outright engine power. Powered by a Lotus-tuned 3.5-liter V6 engine, its 276 horsepower propel the car to 60 in less than five seconds. The 2,976-pound car tops out around 160.

Inside, the Evora employs a softer approach than previous Lotus products. Premium quality materials and finishes mesh to create a unique contemporary-but-luxurious feel. New toys include: air conditioning, leather seating from Recaro, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a backup camera, and cool blue LED lighting. The sexy Alpine audio and navigation system comes with satellite radio, iPod, and Bluetooth connectivity. In a further attempt to make the Evora more practicable, the sports car has a rear-mounted and cooled trunk, large enough to fit a set of golf clubs.

Although the Evora is a cool and eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzlers, it still produces more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide than a Toyota Prius. The car is the first of three new models Lotus promises as part of a five-model business plan to grow the niche brand. The base price is anticipated to be around $75,000.

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