Autocar confidential: Lotus on delivering EV dynamism, Citroen preempting diesel dip and more

99 lotus emira 2021 reveal hero front

Our reporters have been talking to those in the know all week. This is what they learned

In this week’s Autocar confidential, we speak to the man in charge of Lotus about how to deliver an EV that sticks to the firm’s lightweight ethos, and find out when Citroen changed its tune on diesel. But first, what can Cupra do to stand out from its VW Group siblings?

CUPRA MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE

How will Cupra make its Volkswagen-based electric cars sporty? CEO Wayne Griffiths believes that it’s about more than trick styling. “We adapt the chassis and suspension and add different brakes and steering,” he said, adding that small EVs need to “feel like a go-kart”. The Spanish brand will maintain a focus on driver engagement, which is great news for us – although, Griffiths acknowledged, “not very democratic to passengers”.

LIGHT WEIGHT STILL KEY FOR ELECTRIC LOTUS

The replacement for the Lotus Elise being an EV was always going to upset some, but Lotus boss Matt Windle is confident that the Type 135 will deserve the hallowed emblem. He said: “I know some people won’t like it, but we’ve always been innovative and looked for the best solutions. There’s a lot of references to what Colin Chapman would have made of it. He was pretty agnostic to powertrains; he just wanted the one that gave the best performance, and that’s what we will do. These cars will be fun to drive and will be a premium product which moves Lotus into a different era.”

TURNING BACK ON BLACK

When Citroen began developing the new C5X, diesel accounted for 85% of sales in its market segment, but the firm pushed ahead with a petrol and PHEV offering, betting on diesel becoming unpopular by the time of launch. It was a bold call, but it proved to be a correct one. CEO Vincent Cobée told us: “We won’t win every bet, but so long as we’re addressing future needs and being forward- looking, not repeating but being innovative, we’re doing the right things.”