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Lotus' latest can race, too

Lotus shows off an endurance racer version of the Evora at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show.

Lotus Evora
The Lotus Evora, equipped for endurance racing. CNET

When Lotus launched its Evora last year, it seemed the company gave in to the need for a mass-market car. Unlike the Elise, the Evora has four seats. The cabin isn't stripped bare, but sports modern electronics. And the engine is a big--a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V-6. But lest we think this extra tonnage makes the Evora any less sporty than the Elise, Lotus intends to take a race-equipped Evora to the Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race.

Lotus Evora wheel
The Evora's brakes have been upgraded to six-piston calipers front and back. CNET

Lotus had its Evora endurance racer on display at the Frankfurt auto show. Externally, the car shows few modifications from a standard Evora, although its big carbon fiber wing stands out. Other aerodynamic components include a diffuser and splitter. For endurance racing, the Evora also gets a 31.7-gallon fuel tank, roll cage, and fire suppression system. But even with this extra equipment, Lotus engineers managed to shave 441 pounds off it versus a standard Evora, for a total weight of 2,646 pounds.

The Evora endurance racer retains the 3.5-liter V-6, although in this application it has been tuned up to 395 horsepower, which likely means a supercharger. The standard transmission has been replaced with a sequential six-speed paddle-shifted gearbox.

With its power-to-weight ratio, good aerodynamics, and Lotus-engineered handling, the Evora should prove itself a contender. But the tough nature of endurance racing will reveal any faults Lotus engineers might have overlooked.