Lotus DNA

The special qualities of a Lotus car.


The Late Colin Chapman - Founder of Lotus Cars


Lotus cars limited are a small manufacturer of sports cars located at Hethel near Norwich in England. 

When Colin Chapman created the first Lotus from a left over Austin, few could have imagined that the marque would survive to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1998. 

Fewer still would have predicted that the company which started out in a North London lock-up would have risen to the very pinnacle of motor racing and produced a memorable string of  truly innovative road cars. 

Chapman died in 1982 but today’s Elise (and 340R) is very much a hallmark Lotus, a pert little machine so well poised that it easily matches and can embarrass more powerful rivals.

As part of their design philosophy Lotus try to achieve consistent qualities in the vehicles which they build. These qualities Lotus have called the ‘Lotus DNA’  and reproduced below is their description of this philosophy : 

 A Lotus is not just an engine, or a chassis. It is a complete, balanced and efficient package, achieving performance through innovation, light weight and purist design.

The driver is always considered a fundamental component part of a Lotus, inherent in the design and development process, the ingredient ultimately which will derive the pleasure of the complete package.

 A Lotus gives the driver a sensation of intimacy and communication, of being part of the structure, responding exactly as the driver requests with a level of satisfaction and pleasure which is unique. 

Developed by drivers for drivers, able to satisfy those with high skill levels while maintaining safety and flattering those with lesser ability.

Typical characteristics of a Lotus are: 


Short, well damped, calm and parallel road to body motions; in character with the vehicle type, a sports car for the road and track. 


High ultimate cornering limits.

No sudden character changes throughout the handling performance envelope, limits give no surprises leaving the vehicle progressive and balanced.


Communicative with good feel of the road and cornering condition.

Balance between low speed manoeuvring (parking) and high speed steering efforts. 

Relationship of Controls

Position and force of steering wheel, pedals, gear lever, seating, visibility.

 Feeling of sitting in, not sitting on the vehicle.

Drive Away

 Ease of take up (city driving), clean take up (precision).

Linear Acceleration

Relationship between the throttle pedal and the engine response.

Promoting a feeling of being in control (not intimidating).

Check Braking

Brake pedal brings instant response; no lost travel.

Linear brake pedal effort directly related to its effect.

Braking Capacity

High overall braking performances, always responding to braking demand, never fading on road or track.

Vehicle Agility

Natural nimbleness with instinctive response to driver inputs.

Vehicle Feedback

Total level of communication of vehicle attitude and position via all of the controls.

Confidence inspiring, feeling of security at all times, driving naturally ‘at one’ with the vehicle.


Stability does not decrease with speed.

Generates confidence through this feeling of security and vehicles dedication to running in a straight line.

Sound Quality

Relaxing in cruise; addictive performance noise under acceleration.

Extract from Lotus Driver Training Experience  May 2000


Those of us fortunate enough to drive a Lotus 340R will be able to confirm that the 340R  complies fully with the definition of the ‘Lotus DNA’ . The most exiting  drive of your life is a common description of its capabilities.



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