“Lotus was born in London 75 years ago, so this is a coming home moment,” says Niels de Gruijter. The director for Lotus Cars Europe is standing in front of a bright yellow Eletre SUV, speaking to the assembled press at Lotus London – a new flagship store, opening today.
In truth, this stylish showcase for all things Lotus is a long way from the lock-up garage in Hornsey, where company founder Colin Chapman created his first car – a modified Austin Seven christened the Mark I – back in 1948.
Located at 73 Piccadilly, directly opposite The Ritz hotel, it’s more about ‘brand experience’ than selling cars, with a minimalist aesthetic, ‘the best coffee in Mayfair’ and a brand new Evija hypercar taking centre-stage.
Past meets future
Walk into Lotus London and you’re greeted by a huge, nine-metre screen, also visible to anyone waiting for a taxi outside The Ritz. Framed photographs from the marque’s history, including its innovative F1 cars, are displayed straight ahead on the ‘heritage wall’.
The Evija currently on display is one of eight Fittipaldi limited editions, in black and gold JPS livery, and it shares the ground floor with the rest of the Lotus range: the Emira coupe and Eletre SUV.
Competition for showroom space may soon become more heated, however. Lotus plans to reveal an electric saloon later this year, followed by a smaller SUV and a fully electric sports car. Its quest to become a fully fledged Porsche-rival means increasing sales exponentially, from just 641 cars in 2022 to a goal of 150,000 by 2028.
Design your new Lotus
The ‘by invitation only’ downstairs area is where you can personalise your new car, using trim samples and an incredibly detailed life-sized screen. I spent a very diverting 10 minutes configuring a purple Evija with a blue interior, but – thankfully, perhaps – didn’t have the requisite £2 million to order it.
If that sounds a bit steep, Lotus London also sells a range of branded merchandise, from KEF Lotus Edition home speakers (£7,000 a pair) to T-shirts and baseball caps.
Niels de Gruijter hopes the Mayfair site will become London’s newest tourist attraction, heading up a Lotus network that will expand to 35 UK dealers by 2025. It’s definitely worth a visit on a London day out – and the coffee is exceptional, too.
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