Lotus Evora 400, If You Don't Know What It Is #itsnotforyou

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
lotus evora 400 if you don t know what it is itsnotforyou

While most car companies try to persuade broad swatches of people to buy their cars, Lotus is trying a new/old approach in promoting their new Evora 400 model, telling some folks that maybe Lotus’ fastest model is just not for them.

Lotus has launched an online game called “Take the Lotus Evora 400 Agility Test” at the company website . It’s a reaction time game based on tests used to select fighter pilots. There is competition, with a leader-board displaying the results, and if you succeed you can win an early test drive of the Evora 400 (so named because it has 400 hp). You can also lose – Lotus is presenting this as a challenge. The banner ads hyping the game say “Can You Handle It?”, you’re invited to “see if you’ve got what it takes” and if you lose you’re told that maybe you should be driving some “Bavarian cruiser” and given the hashtag, . While it can be rightfully accused of elitism, for this old Lotus fan, it hits all the right notes.

I said that it was a new/old approach. Companies selling a variety of things, from mass market items to luxury products, have appealed to customers’ sense of non-comformity. The idea that you’re not like everyone else, that you have refined tastes or that you march to the beat of a non-standard percussionist is very appealing. We want to be different, just like all the other kids.

More than that, though, the promotion hearkens back to Lotus’ earlier days when Colin Chapman was growing the company from a tiny maker of tuner “specials” and kit cars to a force to be reckoned with by racing teams and sports car makers alike. The project that led to the Europa, Lotus’ first mid-engine road car, was sophisticated enough that it was at least briefly considered by Ford Motor Company to be the basis for what eventually was the GT40 LeMans effort (though Ford eventually went with Eric Broadley’s Lola at the start of the GT40 program).

Chapman knew, however, that his sophisticated cars weren’t for everyone and that for a small automaker trying to make a name for itself it made sense to appeal to hardcore sports car enthusiasts by stressing that point. Making a name for itself was critical. While readers of Sports Car Graphic or Autoweek might have known what a Lotus was, readers of mass market publications like Motor Trend or Popular Mechanics did not. Of course to your average Reader’s Digest consumer little British cars weren’t even part of their consciousness.

If you’re small and unknown, why not use that as an angle for promotion? In the 1960s, advertising agencies started experimenting with ‘anti-hero’ ads like Avis car rental’s “We’re campaign and Doyle Dane Bernbach’s “Think Small” ads for the Volkswagen Beetle. Maybe that’s why Lotus was comfortable promoting the Europa with ads that read “Lotus: If You Don’t Know What It Is, You Won’t Know How To Drive It”.

I wish I could find an image of that ad. I didn’t imagine it, I can provide links to others who remember it, but Google can’t find an example. Google also can’t find what is my favorite Lotus t-shirt, a line drawing of an Europa going around a racetrack corner, with the slogan, “Lotus: The Shortest Distance Between Two Points”.

“Lotus: If You Don’t Know What It Is, You Won’t Know How To Drive It” appealed to potential customers’ elitism, non-conformity and driving skill. I think it was brilliant. I should say that Lotus wasn’t trying to make it seem that their cars are hard to drive. Actually, Loti are fingers and toes cars, that require small inputs. Nothing hard to drive about them at all (outside of usual caveats about the reliability of LBCs). What Lotus was saying then was that if you weren’t enough of an enthusiast to know about their brand, you probably wouldn’t be able to take full advantage of their products.

The current promotion asks today, “Are you sure you’re good enough for Evora 400? It requires a superior level of hand-eye coordination, reaction times and driver skills to handle a car that is capable of supreme agility.”

So, “Can You Handle It?” and the Lotus Evora 400 Agility Test fits nicely with the heritage of Lotus. They also, rather cleverly, I think, like “the shortest distance” t-shirt picturing a curve, not a straight line, allude to the company’s preeminent skill, making cars that corner and handle as well as any on the road.

You can take the Lotus Evora 400 Agility Test here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • Zackman Zackman on Mar 30, 2015

    The first thing that I noticed from the photo that the car resembled a boy-racer after-market-applied aero kit on a Hyundai Veloster! After that, I don't care.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Mar 30, 2015

    Reminds me of that story (probably covered here) where a disgruntled Bugatti owner way back had written to Ettore Bugatti, complaining that his car wouldn't start on cold mornings. Ettore wrote back something like, "Surely a man who can afford a Bugatti can afford a garage in which to store it."

  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 (  Bronze or  Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the  Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • Scott "It may not be the ideal hauler to take the clan cross-country to Wally World considering range anxiety "Range Anxiety is a chosen term that conceals as much as it discloses. You don't care about range that much if you can recharge quickly and current BV's (battery vehicles) can't, no matter how good the chargers are. From what I've been reading it is likely that within 5 years there will be batteries in cars, most likely Tesla's, that can charge fast enough with no harm to the batteries to satisfy all of us with no need to increase range beyond a real world 300-ish miles.And that's when I buy one.
  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van
  • Jay Mason Your outdoor space will get better every year with a pergola. A horizontal, pole-supported framework for climbing plants is called a pergola. It creates a closed off area. pergola builder denton texas by Denton Custom Decks provide cover for outdoor gatherings. They would be more than happy to assist you with the pergola's framework.
  • Alan I would think Ford would beef up the drive line considering the torque increase, horse power isn't a factor here. I looked at a Harrop supercharger for my vehicle. Harrop offered two stages of performance. The first was a paltry 100hp to the wheels (12 000AUD)and the second was 250hp to the wheels ($20 000 (engine didn't rev harder so torque was significantly increased)). The Stage One had no drive line changes, but the Stage Two had drive line modifications. My vehicle weighs roughly the same as a full size pickup and the 400'ish hp I have is sufficient, I had little use for another 100 let alone 250hp. I couldn't see much difference in the actual supercharger setup other than a ratio change for the drive of the supercharger, so that extra $8 000 went into the drive line.