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Lotus Europa

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europa_slide.jpg

STATS
Years Represented: 1973-1975
Class: Sports Car
Type: 2-door coupe

Country: England
Host: GT2 (special) & GT4 & GT5 (twin-cam)

Price: prize car worth 80,000 per trade (GT2) 32,699 (GT4) 33,167 (GT5)

Construction: fiberglass body, steel chassis

Length: 157.5" // Width: 64.4" // Height: 42.5"
Wheelbase: 91"
Overhang: @5' 6"
Track: 53.5" front & rear
Ground Clearance: 5.3"
Weight: 1,609 lbs.
Layout: Mid Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: 155x13" HR
F. Suspension: double wishbones / coils
R. Suspension: radial arms / trailing links / coils
Brakes: solid discs [F] drums [R]

Engine: 1558 cc DOHC inline 4 cylinder
Construction: cast iron block, alum. alloy head
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: 2 single-barrel carburetors
Valves per Cyl: 2
Compression Ratio: 10.3:1
Bore x Stroke: 3.25 x 2.86"


The test car in GT5 received oil change but no engine rebuild. Its tires were soft comforts.

GT5 Mileage: 17,229.3

`````````````````````````` GT2 ````````````````````````GT4```````````````````GT5````
Tested HP:    127 @ 6,300 rpm      133 @ 6,500 rpm      125 @ 6,500 
Tstd Torque:
113 @ 5,200 rpm      118 @ 5,500 rpm      112 @ 5,500
 
 
Lbs. per HP: 12.7 (GT2) // 12.09 (GT4) // 12.86 (GT5)
HP per Liter: 81.5 (GT2) // 85.3 (GT4) // 80.2 (GT5)
Credits per HP: 629.92 (GT2) // 245.85 (GT4) // 265.34 (GT5)

GT4 Idle: N/A // Redline: 7,000 // RPM limit: 8,000
GT5 Idle: 500 // Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,500

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

```````````````````````GT2````````````````GT4````````````````GT5
0-60 mph: 8.567 seconds            7.950                 8.335
0-100mph: 22.211 seconds        18.453                20.661 
 
400 M: 16.604 @ 86 mph     15.959 @ 92       16.427 @ 90 mph
1 KM:  
29.810 @ 112 mph   28.392 @ 111.8  29.336 @ 114 mph

1 Mile:            no test                        no test                40.559 @ 134 mph

 
Test Track: 1:54.489 (GT2) /// 2:38.038 (GT4) 48.125 /// (GT5, Twin Ring Super Speedway)

Top speed at Redline
1st: 33 mph
2nd: 52 mph
3rd: 78 mph
4th: 103 mph
5th: 151.81 mph @ 7,400 rpm (GT2)
       148.9 mph @ 7,250 rpm (GT4)
        144.8 mph @ 7,150 rpm (GT5) 
 
 


EXTERIOR / HISTORY----------------

The Lotus Europa (also known as the ‘Type 46’), was produced from 1967 till 1975. There were several versions made throughout these years. They all featured a lightweight fiberglass body, and a total of 9,887 were built according to some websites. Gran Turismo 5's Description page claims "9,230 Europas were produced through 1975", but whatever. Close enough.  

1975 model-year Europas are the rarest, by the way: just 57 of them were made in this final year. Call me if you ever find one.

As the story goes, Colin Chapman (owner/operator of Lotus way back when) at some point in 1964 wanted a replacement for the famous but aging Lotus Seven. His dream eventually led to the Europa Series 1 (also known as the S1), Lotus's first mid-engine production car. It became the first of a long line of mid-engine autos by Lotus, many of which are available in Gran Turismo, of course.

The original target price for future customers was to be just 650, if the car were sold as a kit. Which... wow. That's cheaper than Ford's Model T, if we consider that 650 was a lot more in 1912 than it was in 1967.

But this super-cheap price also meant that Lotus would not be making much of a profit as each kit was sold. Corners needed to be cut. It takes a lot of cash to create a new design, after all. To trim costs, the body and chassis were welded together like a race car. The seats were very simple, and could not be adjusted (one had to move the pedals instead). The interior of the S1 Europa was rather sparse and didn't cater much to comfort. Its windows were non-adjustable. There were also a handful of dials and a heater that eventually wouldn't work and that was it!

The Series 2 (offered in 1968 I think) was much improved. It had power-electric windows and the body was no longer bonded to the chassis, which meant it could be repaired a lot easier if the Europa was in an accident. Generally the interior was more user-friendly, though this was still no Cadillac. The Europa in GT4 and 5 are supposed to be from this 2nd generation, although Polyphony Digital screwed up and named them Europa "Special"s. More on this later...

Up to this point, the Europa was an exported car; most of them had been oddly bound for continental Europe (hence the name ‘Europa’). But sometime in the early '70s, the Europa finally became available in the UK as well. Interestingly, one could buy one of these cars either as a kit or as a finished product.

As far as performance goes, the S1 had some advantages over the S2: it was lighter and had a closed underside, which aided its aerodynamic profile. The Europa S1 has a drag coefficient of just .29, pretty darn slippery. The welded body meant it was structurally a better car than the S2, which meant better handling & maneuverability, in theory...somewhat in reality. It also had some major flaws: the car's fixed seats and spartan interior ensured that only true sports car enthusiasts would enjoy having an S1 in the long run.

The rear of the car had bulky panels on each side which blocked vision. I guess those who designed the Europa were more familiar with making race cars, and were used to worrying about what's ahead...not what's behind.

In 1971, the car's small Renault engine was replaced with a slightly bigger Lotus-Ford Cosworth twin-cam, which was simply known as the ‘Europa Twin Cam’. Not only was the engine a little bigger, the body was raised a bit so larger people could fit thru the doors. Still, it's a pretty claustrophobic car at just under 43" tall.

The last wave of Europas (known as Europa Specials) started in 1973. This, I think, is the car that's in GT2, since these were the only Europas that had a 5-speed gearbox. PD erroneously gave the earlier '71 Europa Twin-Cam in GT4 an extra gear, which means GT4's model should have a 4-speed instead of a 5.

GT2's spec sheet and various Lotus-based websites praise the Europa's handling, and make absolutely no mention of the frustration that's faced trying to make this car useful!   Perhaps in real-life it was a blast to drive, but I doubt the Europa was pushed to Gran Turismo speeds very often. Get a Europa up past 130 mph (the real-life production model's top speed was rated about 123) and you'll see what I mean: it gets very unstable. Not to say it isn't fun, though, 'cause it is. Just make sure you've got your countersteering down.

Let's get to the point here: although low-powered and small, this one is really for expert drivers, even before engine upgrades are in place.

If we can make an analogy, I like to think of the Europa as an example of what's on one side of a spectrum, and such cars as S13 Silvia Q's, Miatas, and front-drive Civics and Mitusbishi FTOs on another side...these latter cars being very easy for a beginner to drive and learn from. I'm not saying that a beginner or an intermediate Gran Turismo racer can't drive and win with a Europa in a competitive situation, I'm simply stating that to drive one WELL without unwanted drift, oversteer, slides, and/or accidents takes enormous concentration.

We can never truely master this vintage Lotus; we can merely keep its difficult nature at bay. This is one of those cars that's constantly needing attention, like a jealous cat. Some cars handle like crap when they're stock, but put a better suspension under them, and presto; it's an obvious improvement. Not so with the Europa. ...I think you get the point.

The Europa is a prize car which can be won in GT2 or GT4. It also can be fished from the used car lot of GT5, good luck trying to find one, though.

Since it's awarded (GT2) from the very unfair 2nd Historic Cup race at Rome (assuming you're dueling the GT40), it's not particularly easy to obtain. GT4 Europas are earlier 1971 models from the S2/twin-cam generation. These can be won from the British Lightweight Series in the European League.

These are lightweights at 1,609 pounds, and in my opinion it's better to keep the weight on this car, since it gets more and more nervous as pounds, or kg for metric-users, get stripped. The racing body (GT2) is worth it, though. It weighs in at just 1,432 pounds, but provides a good amount of downforce, making it highly useful since the car's spin-out factor gets reduced significantly.

There are a total of four color schemes, including a mock John Player Special black and gold paint job!  Bloody smashing!!! Tally HO!!!

 

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-----------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------

Original S1 and S2 Lotus Europas had a 1,470 cc 4-cylinder engine derived from the Renault 16 that only produced 78 hp @ 6,000 rpm, which was thankfully replaced by the 1558 cc motor that's in our game cars. This latter engine has an aluminum alloy head over a cast-iron block, and was fed by two Zenith-Stromberg carbs.

Those who have trouble making up their mind (GT2 or 5) should steer clear of this section. Those who love options will have a great time though, they'll have plenty of choices here. A total of twelve power upgrades are available: three levels of normal tuning, three turbos (two in GT4), engine balancing, port & polish, computer chip, and the three air filter / exhaust set-ups. This makes for a total of something like 48 different power configurations if my math is correct. Some of these upgrades do something to the vibrant rattling sound of the engine, too...simply invigorating!  I've always wanted to drive an old 4-cylinder, 2-seat sports car like an MG, this is as close as I'll ever get...God bless Gran Turismo. 

No matter what we do, the Europa will never be a high-powered car. High strung? Oh yes, but this won't be caused by its horses. With full NA tuning in GT2, the Cosworth engine is making just 240 bhp @ 7,400 rpm with 180 ft-lbs. of torque. With the Stage 3 turbo, it'll crank out 304 hp @ 7,100 rpm and 237 foot-pounds @ 6,100 rpm. Doesn't sound like much, but since the car weighs about 1,600 pounds at the most, it can actually be taken to a good number of races...assuming the driver can control it, that is. A 7,000 rpm redline gets raised to 7,750 with Stage 2 NA tuning in GT2, but oddly the turbo's tach doesn't change with upgrades at all.

Base power plus engine rebuild and oil change, plus engine, exhaust and carb work in Gran Turismo 5 rates at 173 @ 7,100 with 142 @ 6,100. Add a Stage 3 turbo, and it jumps to 221 @ 7,300 with 171 @ 6,100. With all three engine stages, some might be disappointed since only 255 horses can be arranged at best.

The mid-engine's weight over those rear axles guarantees very little off-mark tire spin. Power may not be great, but at least it doesn't get wasted. For gearing, it's possible to rely on the factory-installed transmission (built by Austin) as long as you don't mind the fact that 5th gear is way taller than 4th. Some folks may simply want to get the full-racing gearbox since it provides the most flexibility. The sports gearbox can be used for certain tracks, too, but it will redline too early at others. I have no use for the semi-racing tranny at all.

Well, now that we've got that covered, let's suss out the underparts, shall we?
 
 


-------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------

Like I mentioned earlier, this area will be most problematic. Get ready for the fun, y'all.

If the Europa were either a lightweight or a mid-engine car, it would be more forgiving in our videogame, but since it's both light AND mid-engined, rolling on narrow '60s-era tires...

Basically, those who are having problems controlling the Europa in GT2 ought to invest in some racing slicks early on...preferably softs or mediums. For GT4, we often won't have this luxury, since many of the races a Europa will compete in require sports tires at best. Therefore, it is possible to experience understeer, unwanted drifting, fishtaily-oversteer, and front-end snapback all in one corner.

In GT2, I finished the Mid-Engine Challenge, and found that I could use sports tires for the 1st race at Grand Valley East, but had to put some medium slicks on at High Speed Ring and Red Rock Speedway. The drones in these two latter races are all on slicks anyways, as proven by Sucahyo over at GTP. Mid-engine cars in this game have a tendency to slide around a lot on banked tracks for some reason, yet notice the drones don't slip at all unless they bash into each other.

The real-life Europa was mounted on 6" wide tires....pretty narrow. At times, they've got what seems to be about as much grip as my thumb. 185/13" Firestone Cavalino Ovals were offered as an option for the R/L car. Yeah, I'd get those. Whether you use slicks or not, you'll have to deal with

1> this car's poor stability
2> its quirky, nervous handling.

Oversteer and sliding are part of the fun. In any Gran Turismo game we might as well accept and even EMBRACE these qualities!  I found that use of the 1.5 or 2-way differential in earlier Gran Turismos helped a bit, but also added significant understeer. Personally, I'd rather balance this car's oversteer with countersteering mid-corner than have late-corner understeer, which kills speed where it's needed most. Actually, the fully modifiable differential is a really good buy...probably the best thing for this jumpy caffeine-machine.

In Gran Turismo 5, the car remains quite a mess, and this is without any upgrades at all. No extra power. Driving around a simple and flat track like Tsukuba requires an incredible amount of talent. The car's brakes work well, and I found I could brake at modern points at this track. But that's the only early compliment to be found.   

The Special's front-end in this game is constantly fishing for a workable line, as it's easy for the driver to steer just a smidge too strongly into those hairpins, then encounter massive grabbing. Understeer? Won't have to worry about understeer much, even as power gets added. It's the grabbing that's a menace. 

As per the earlier games I drove this car in, leaving turns is also not very much fun in 5, and that's not just because the car is old. All those other lightweight British classics for instance, I've found a lot of good things to say. 

I described the Triumph Spitfire of GT5 as "just pure fun, and that's without a limited-slip." The Ginetta G4: "a great, amateur sports car". The Lotus Elan? "There are no grandiose burnouts as full throttle is given, this car excites in other  ways. The way it twitches and rolls and simply reacts is what makes a driver like me smile."

None of these words get shared while driving a Europa around, even while using its default 125 horsepower. Here we have a car which is like a pupil who hasn't spent much time in the gym. He's not so good at lifting weights, which can be likened to the Cosworth engine not being very strong. But this can be excused, if the car's better in other ways.

But it's not better in other ways!  The Europa is actually quite awful, at first. Even at a low-speed, mirror-smooth track like Tsukuba it never feels confident. It's always trying its best to mess up our plans, always trying its best to disrupt our driving pleasure. Returning to the kid in a gym scenario, it's like that kid's not very strong, but neither is he good at volleyball or soccer, where agility becomes more of a factor. He just plain sucks at almost everything.   

Unlike those other vintage glories from the U.K., we really need to tune our Europa right away. Sports tires (hards or mediums) remove a lot of the rear-end sliding. A combination of hards front, mediums rear can be used to remove the car's front-end grabbing, though steering will never feel precise.

By now, the car's beginning to feel much more sportsmanlike. The front-end still searches a bit, but the rear becomes completely tamed. Easy to work with. Plant that gear, and never fear the oversteer. As power gets improved and stages are bought, now's the time to purchase that limited-slip, and stiffen that suspension. Wow, what a difference. Now we got a race car.

The story of the Europa's transformation is similar to what I wrote long ago about the Spitfire of GT4, but here, I'll modify the words to fit the fifth game. "Medium or hard sports tires...stronger drivetrain parts, especially that limited-slip. -- Keep upgrading. The nimbleness will still be there minus all the bad stuff. Now we're on our way...taking the Spitfire (the Europa) from being a dreadful bowl of English porridge to a fine death ray, one of the most complete transformations I've experienced in GT5."  



Summary
All in all, it's best to just open our minds to what drivers of the past had to deal with. True sports cars are temperamental beasts, after all. At least they used to be. 
 
 

PROS

1). Highly unique desgin. It's amazing to me that Lotus and Polyphony Digital even included this ancient, lo-tech mobile. The attention to detail in GT4 includes visibly moving rear suspension parts. +++

2). 150-ish mph from a 127 hp engine? Well you can't beat that!

3). Lightweight, fiberglass body. Minimalist design that (in real life) lacked the usual creature-comforts in order to make for a fly of a vehicle. Weight reductions aren't necessary and may even be a detriment to stability. The racing kit (GT2) is recommended and available. Cool paint schemes, too.

4). Gotta love that rattly engine sound.

5). One of the most challenging low-powered cars the game has to offer. This is really only for pros who're into challenge, though. Amateur Gran Turismo drivers who can only win with an Escudo shouldn't bother with a Europa (such cheaters would most likely just sell it, anyways).

6). Lots of power options available; both turbo & natural power in any game.

7). Possibly a tuner's pride, since it is possible to turn this car around after extensive parts' shop visits & careful settings.
 

CONS

1). The only way to get a Europa is to win the most difficult, unfair race GT2 has. Some may not be happy that it can ‘only’ be sold for 20,000, even though this was actually top-dollar for a pristine-quality Europa when GT2 was released in 1999. The GT4 car is easier to obtain but we still have to win it. In GT5? Good luck trying to find one of these on a whim.

2). Narrow tires provide sketchy grip, when the car is actually ON the road.

3). Poor stability caused by the lightweight body and mid-engine design.

4). Below-average acceleration.

5). Factory-installed gearbox has too much of a gap between 4th and 5th at times. Sports gearbox redlines too early. Full custom box probably needed eventually.  

6). Lots of countersteer and footwork necessary to command what doesn't at first seem will be a car needing much commanding.

7). GT4 cars are further plagued by rear tires that heat up twice as fast as front--creating odd cornering dilemmas. Feels like sometimes we've been handed a Rubik's Cube and have 3 or 4 seconds to solve it.

8). Gran Turismo 2's dealer info tells us what a great handling car the Europa is. It is not! We will need a better suspension and possibly even racing slick tires (GT2) while the car's power is still weak. Even in GT5 this same scenario remains: awful handling while stock; this so-called sports car NEEDS upgrades!  

9). Long braking distances (oddly not as true for GT5, for those who know how to command non-ABS).
 
 

Originally Published: February 21st, 2005
GT5 Info added: December 3rd, 2022

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