Thorney Europa R

Tuner creates the Europa that Lotus isn’t allowed to

Evo rating
  • Europa gets some attitude
  • At a hefty price

Remember the Lotus Europa? You know, the more accommodating, more civilised Lotus with a torquey turbocharged engine and GT credentials? Oh, come on. Surely you’ve seen lots of affluent types in suits shouting into their Bluetooth headsets looking suave and comfortable in Lotus’s Porsche Cayman rival? No? No, neither have we. In fact a quick straw poll in the office reveals that more than half of us haven’t actually seen a Europa on the road since its launch last year. That’s bad.

But the Europa isn’t a bad car, it’s just compromised: it’s not allowed to be as sexy or as focused as an Exige, nor as pure and simple as an Elise. And no matter what Lotus tells you, the Europa is no Cayman – it’s just too small and low to make a comfortable GT. To top it all, we found early cars had awful engine mapping – the power ‘curve’ looking like a jagged Etch-a-Sketch drawing.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

Thorney Motorsport has tried to address all these issues with its Europa R. Sitting up to 70mm lower on Nitron adjustable suspension (£1500) and riding on black Team Dynamics alloys (approx £1000 with tyres), it looks as aggressive as any Exige. It sounds pretty good too, with a full Milltek exhaust system allowing the engine to breathe much more freely.

Taking advantage of this better combustion is an ECU remap (£2500, including the exhaust), boosting power to 240bhp and torque to 270lb ft – up 43bhp and a whopping 70lb ft over the standard car. Obviously, these jumps are tangible, and the Europa suddenly feels very quick indeed – you’d have to work an Exige S very hard to keep up.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Thorney hasn’t stopped there, though. It has also attempted to smooth out the lumpy delivery, and has been largely successful too, the power curve now feeling like just that – a nice smooth curve. There’s still the odd stutter at 4200rpm, and when you upshift at peak revs there’s a long pause between reapplying the power and actually feeling the engine harden to the task again, but it’s a minor frustration.

The revised suspension is much stiffer than the standard Europa’s, perhaps even stiffer than the track-focused Exige’s. The ride is busy but never harsh, though over truly craggy roads you’d probably be quicker with the standard set-up. The handling balance, meanwhile, is superb, with just a bit of understeer that quickly neutralises if you stay on the throttle then gently turns to mild oversteer. The R is a bit edgier on the brakes, though, the tail swinging quickly if you misjudge your entry and need to shed some speed once already turned in.

Essentially the Thorney Motorsport upgrades give the Europa a real edge. It’s a more exciting, more involving car than the slightly confused Europa S. The only problem is that the donor car is so rare you wonder if anyone will ever get to appreciate it.

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1998cc, turbo
Max power240bhp @ 5400rpm
Max torque270lb ft @ 5000rpm
0-605.2sec (est)
Top speed150mph (est)
On saleNow (www.thorneymotorsport.co.uk)
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/jaguar/202210/jaguar-f-type-r-2020-review-supercharged-v8-coupe-takes-the-fight-to-porsches-992
Jaguar

Jaguar F-type R 2020 review

Entry-level P300 still has the sweetest F-type chassis, but the 567bhp R’s appeal is as enduring as ever
10 Feb 2020
Visit/advice/15370/five-of-the-best-used-v12-cars-you-can-buy-right-now
Features

Five of the best used V12 cars you can buy right now

For less than the price of a new Porsche 911, you could have a dozen cylinders at your disposal
4 Feb 2020
Visit/porsche/202213/porsche-macan-gts-2020-review
Porsche

Porsche Macan GTS 2020 review

Porsche's mid-sized Macan GTS remains the most impressive SUV to drive with a tad more polish and tech
10 Feb 2020
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019