By on March 28, 2015

lotus-evora-400-rear-exteror1

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, #itsnotforyou. 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 #2” 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

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42 Comments on “Lotus Evora 400, If You Don’t Know What It Is #itsnotforyou...”


  • avatar
    discoholic

    How about “Lotus: If You Don’t Know What It Is, You’ve Never Stood on a Hard Shoulder in a Puddle of Coolant and a Cloud of Steam”?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      I’ve done that very thing, but I still don’t know what it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Likewise. The fact that helping my friend change the water pump by the side of the read an his early 1990s Buick made me like cars *more* is what makes me an etheusiast.

        Rich boys playing with their expensive toys, on the other hand, doesn’t evoke enthusiasm for me. Or envy. Or much of anything, really. Meh.

        Of course, I’d like to know more about how this car is engineered, but this car is clearly not for me and I’m cool with that — so I won’t waste any time reading up on it.

  • avatar
    bludragon

    Bit of a struggle with my Dell trackpad. Maybe I need a lotus mouse? :-P

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Going to take some Notes with your Lotus mouse?

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        You sir, win the internet today!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I’m glad someone else got the geek joke :)

          • 0 avatar

            Since I touched on people not knowing about Lotus Cars, I almost said something about the software company. There was a time when using a search engine for info on cars from Hethel, that I had to include -software as a search term.

          • 0 avatar
            bunkie

            Does anyone else remember the Ashton-Tate ad with the tagline “Lotus uses Framework?”

          • 0 avatar
            ...m...

            ….oh my god: *we* still use framework to this day for all our critical accounting, keep a few old DOS boxes around to run it in spit-and-duct-tape fashion, and over the past decade i’ve witnessed three aborted attempts at migration to something more modern…accounting notwithstanding, at least we’ve managed to pull our working project records out of that black hole!..

          • 0 avatar

            I use DOS every time I run my embroidery machine. the software that I use to transfer designs to the machine runs on DOS. I have Win98 running on that box so I can transfer files from the Win98 computer with the design software over a LAN instead of sneakernet. My main box is XP. My most modern OS is Win7 on my laptop.

            Not sure what the embroidery machine runs on, some kind of machine language I believe. Its motherboard is Z80 based.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            The latest KDE is called Frameworks. It was just last year we replaced Lotus Notes with MS Outlook. It’s not really better for email or calendar and we still have Notes for a variety of procedures that IT hasn’t figured out how to translate to some MS product.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @…m…

            This might change your life.

            http://www.dosbox.com/

  • avatar

    Big talk for a company whose cars’ only dependable componant is the V6 engine from a Camry and possibly the portfolio containing the owner’s manual.

    Isuzu Styles – #canhandleit.

  • avatar

    What about: Lotus, why not taken the opportunity to restyle the rear? You did some impressive butt work with the Esprit and Elan concepts a couple of years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …that *is* the restyled (er, “refreshed”) rear, but honestly the evora dearly needs a *complete* generational restyle rather than a hodgepodge of awkward angles grafted onto its first-generation debut form…

      …it’s a fantastic car to drive, and it deserves an appearance to match: i agree that the sleek elan concept could make a nice starting point…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Lotus: we can be insufferable too!

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    The only thing that’ll work is the engine- too bad because that Toyota supercharged V6 is a fine engine…

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …handbuilt quirks to be sure, but the only real problem with my lotus has been its italian alarm system…

      …fun fact: the TRD aurion drivetrain was the most powerful FWD transaxle in the world at the evora’s debut…it’s getting to be a little dated after nine years, though, hence the 400bhp bump; a transverse mid-engine layout somewhat limits lotus’ options…

  • avatar
    dwright

    I was #9 in the world, but it looks like the bots have invaded.

    I don’t get it, it’s like bringing a motorcycle to a marathon and thinking you won.

  • avatar

    I think the campaign is pretty good. Had not seen anything about it. Thanks Ronnie!

    Is Lotus still owned by Proton, iirc? If it is they did nothing in the way of using it.

    Now let me go off and take the test…

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I think that they did not consumer test that model name enough. Or they are not planning many sales in Asia. Evora sounds a lot like Ebola in China, Japan and Korea…

    Just sayin’

  • avatar
    Old_WRX

    Can’t seem to pass their agility test. I think the rear stabilizer bar on my mouse is too stiff — the ass end keeps coming loose.

    (I have no idea what this test is supposed to prove…)

  • avatar
    360joules

    “No soup for you!!”

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    maybe try Pinterest? Didn’t find that one you are looking for but did find some other gems. My favorite one so far is: “If you just bought an ordinary sports car we’re sorry.”

    a side note, is there anyone who can honestly say the Europa is a good looking car? I know I can’t.

    • 0 avatar

      The Europa’s beauty lays not in its looks, but in its dynamic performance. I’m a Lotus enthusiasts, I think the early Elite and Elan were the only good looking Lotus cars before Giugiaro got involved with the later Elite/Eclat and Esprit. The Elan +2’s stretched nose looked funny to me even before I saw my first Elan, and the Europa does look like a cross between a bug and a pickup truck (well, the Twin Cam powered Europas with the cut down sail panels).

  • avatar
    RHD

    This is similar to the Toffifay candy commercials that would play during kid’s cartoon programs in the 70s: “Toffifay! It’s too good for kids!” (Kids watching TV wonder why and try to figure how to get some) and then it ends with Grandpa giving a kid a Toffifay with “…but not too good for you!”.
    A risky and clever reverse psychology ploy by Lotus – piquing the curiosity of enough people just might end up selling a few Evora 400s.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil200

    Difficult to know which to lust after more, this or the Alfa.

    sigh

  • avatar
    Car-los

    I passed!!!! 8.22 seconds!!!Now I only need to win the lottery!!!!!

  • avatar
    ccd1

    I get the campaign but it misses the point. The perception of Lotus is that the fit and finish is sub par particularly for a car in this price range and not reliable. The 400 would be the top choice to replace my TT RS, but for these issues (along with seeing if narrowing the door sills makes the car truly reasonable to get into and whether the trunk will fit a cart golf bag)

    • 0 avatar
      brian.scott.henry

      Afternoon,

      Have you had the opportunity to drive an Evora newer than 2012? The fit and finish to much better than most make it sound. You can fit two small walking bags in the trunk.

      I’m always confused why so many people talk about a make and its realiability. Very few problems with these cars. The IPS automatics see the most problems, but even then they aren’t in shops often and when they are usually from people not driving th cars and sitting too long.

      Go out and drive a new 2014 Evora and you might realize how under vaulted these cars are. Looks in person blow anything on the market within the same range out of the water. C7s are nice and the new design cues offer a lot to the eye, but the Evora IS a drivers car.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        Thanks for the info. This car interests me more than anything else on the market. Really want to test drive the 400. I’m not ready to trade in my TT RS just yet, but this is the one car that could tempt me. I’m hoping Lotus will return to the Wasihington, DC auto show next year so I can see it in person. What about repairs? Are you restricted to Lotus dealers?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I already know it’s not for me. I can’t fit inside any Lotus, and no Lotus fits inside my budget.

  • avatar
    Fred

    As soon as I click on the yellow box it immeadiatly says I fail with a time of 0.03 seconds. Doesn’t matter can’t afford it anyway. Now I have to defend my brand…Lotus above all else is about well handling cars. Everything else is a compromise. If you want ergonomics and something to get you to work every day look somewhere else. Meanwhile stop complaining and go for a drive the sun is out and the bluebonnets are in bloom. And when you stop at a antique store the Lotus is too small to carry a little table home.

  • avatar

    It looks as if it has no rearward visibility. It is the same feeling I had when I saw the F-35.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …it doesn’t: from the driver’s seat looking in the rearview mirror, well, i’ll let this picture speak for itself…

      freelands.net /joko /lotus /Red%20-%20Rear%20View%20Mirror.JPG (omit the pre-slash spaces)

      …most mid-engined cars have poor rear visibility, and you can acclimate by using your side mirrors and pulling through traffic instead, but the evora’s definitely on the poorer end of that spectrum…now that the cars have rear-facing cameras, most of that concern is probably ameliorated, but i haven’t driven one equipped with a camera to confirm the experience firsthand…

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “Nothing hard to drive about them at all (outside of usual caveats about the reliability of LBCs).”

    I don’t know about that. They’re certainly not idiot-proof like most modern vehicles. You better know how to make sudden steering corrections if you’re going to be playing around with any quick transitions, or if you’re going to be lifting off the throttle or using the brakes at all during any at-the-limit cornering.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …lotus factory suspension is VERY forgiving and progressive at the limit; not at all twitchy…in fact, folks who aren’t accustomed to managing weight distribution often find lotus tuning outright understeery; there’s a funny video of jeremy clarkson struggling to induce oversteer in an old elise where gavin kershaw (lotus factory driver) eventually tells him that he’s just not doing it right…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    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.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    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.”

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