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Project Eagle the Lotus Evora

The car called Project Eagle is officially the Lotus Evora, but it will not reach Australia until November next year.

The car the British brand has to have — after relying for far too long on the one-trick Elise — is a big deal and cannot arrive soon enough for Lotus Australia.

“We've already taken our first deposit. There is a lot of interest,” Lotus Australia boss John Startari says.

The Evora was unveiled at the British Motor Show. Preliminary technical details include a claimed top in the 270km/h range and a 0-100km/h time of five seconds.

Just as important as the performance are the car's 2-plus-2 cabin and a package that is already being compared with the benchmark Porsche Cayman.

“The Evora is the biggest milestone Lotus has achieved since the Elise was born 13 years ago and is part of our bold five-year strategic plan, which includes the introduction of new cars and technologies to many more markets around the world,” Group Lotus CEO Mike Kimberley says.

“The Evora also . . . proves that you can have phenomenal performance, fuel efficiency, elegant design and practicality all in a class-leading mid-engine 2+2 sports car, which will meet global safety and homologation standards.”

But no one is sure about the Evora name. It could have come from a historic Portuguese town, though Startari says the main reason for the choice is “all Lotus cars have a name that starts with E”.

The Evora is built on a new aluminium chassis that is longer and wider than the Elise's. It was created from the remains of the stillborn Lotus M250.

It has a 3.5-litre Toyota V6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox behind the cabin, rear-wheel drive and fully independent suspension.

Lotus says the car will be built on a new production line at Hethel in the UK and is already talking about 2000 cars a year. The first deliveries will be in Britain.

Evora will also take Lotus back into showrooms in the US for the first time since the 1970s.

Startari says the Evora is a breakthrough, even if it is not the long-promised supercar replacement for the Esprit Turbo and V8.

“The most important thing is it's an all-new car, not just a stretched Elise,” he says. “The styling is based on the Elise, but what's wrong with that? It has been a winner and it is a stunning car. They have deliberately gone for a classic Lotus look to give the car longevity.”

Lotus Australia is forecasting its first Evora deliveries by November next year, though Startari is keen to get a preview car for the Melbourne Motor Show in March.