Lotus Europa

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

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

Price: prize car worth $80,000 per trade (GT2) & $32,699 (GT4)

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"

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

Redline: 7,000 // RPM limit: 8,000 rpm

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

0-60 mph: 8.567 seconds             7.950 seconds
0-100mph: 22.211 seconds         18.453 seconds
400 M: 16.604 @ 86 mph           15.959 @ 92 mph
1 KM:  
29.810 @ 112 mph            28.392 @ 111.8 mph
Test Track: 1:54.489 (GT2) /// 2:38.038 (GT4)

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) 

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. 1975 model-year Europas are the rarest: just 57 of them were made in this last 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, which meant that corners needed to be cut for the final car to be profitable. 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. One got a handful of dials and a heater that eventually wouldn't work and that was it!

The Series 2 (offered in 1969 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, tho this was still no Cadillac. The Europa in GT4 is supposed to be from this 2nd generation, although Polyphony Digital screwed up and named it a Europa "Special". 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. Also, 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. 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 weight gets 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!!!



-----------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 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 (chances are it's not. I failed Geometry and Algebra II back in high school, but you get the point). 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.

Anyways, no matter what we do, the Europa will never be a high-powered car. With full NA tuning in GT2, it makes 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.

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 alot 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 game, too...might as well accept and even EMBRACE these qualities! I found that use of the 1.5 or 2-way differential helped a bit, but also added significant understeer; and 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 modifyable differential is a really good buy...probly the best thing for this jumpy caffeine-machine.

All in all, you should just open your mind to what drivers of the past had to deal with. True sports cars are tempermental beasts, after all. At least they used to be.


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). 151 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.


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 pristene quality Europa when GT2 was released in 1999. The GT4 car is easier to obtain but we still have to win it.

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. 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. Don't even bother to race one of these unless you can easily obtain silver licenses consistently.

8). Long braking distances.

Orignially Published: February 21st, 2005