Silent rage: when Lotus went to the Nürburgring | CAR Magazine

Silent rage: when Lotus went to the Nürburgring

Published: 03 May 2024 Updated: 03 May 2024

► Evija X track special
► Third-fastest ‘Ring time ever
► You should watch the video…

The sound of little else but the savage goring of air has become a defining hallmark of hyper-performance-focussed electric vehicle lap times.

Stripped-out, track-native EV specials are the future of world-beating numbers, we know that. But if anything, there’s something about the relative absence of melodrama that adds to the otherworldliness of it all. Such kinetic savagery should be matched with a similarly violent soundtrack. Without still feels a bit like science fiction when you watch it. A bit off. Almost eerie.

The latest video from Lotus Cars should demonstrate what we mean. It’s a single-take, dual-camera account of when a track special Evija electric hypercar went to the Nürburgring, and set the third-fastest time ever.

It all took place in October last year. The manufacturer had teased setting sights on the Volkswagen ID.R’s Nürburgring electric lap record – a scarcely believable 6:05.336 – a few months before, having already released a handful of images of its new track weapon of choice.

It was to be known as the Evija X – a one-off edition of the Evija, only harder, faster, and with a lot, lot more rear wing. The X variant produces a similar amount of power to the road-faring version of the car it’s based on, with an unbelievable 1955bhp (1,479 kW) for a top speed of 217mph, but it’s also considerably lighter. The X is bereft of headlights and body paint, and has very little dashboard to speak of, besides a few digital gauges.

Lotus Evija X on track

So, Lotus had the tool and the Nürburgring was the destination. The track was damp on October 13 – a Friday, by the way – but the team decided to go ahead all the same. Strapped in was German driver Dirk Müller, Le Mans class winner and victor of the Nürburgring 24 hours in 2004. No slouch, and no fledgling when it came to knowledge of the track itself.

Sights were set on the VW’s lap time, second behind the Porsche 919 Evo in top spot, but the ‘Ring is steeped in that much history, old lap times seem to hang around like antiquated mantlepiece ornaments.

Stefan Bellof’s qualifying time of 6:11.13 at the 1983 Nürburgring 1000 km still stands as the fastest ‘Ring qualifying time ever, shortly followed by Jochen Mass’ effort in the same year – also in a Porsche 956 – with a time of 6:16.85.

Lotus Evija X on track

So, the team wasn’t just challenging the latest in electric hypercar performance but rather the last 40-odd years of motorsport heritage, and 154 corners later the Evija X returned with a time of 6:24.047, on only its second lap. It’s worth noting that the two faster times were set by cars on bespoke chassis, while the X is based on the chassis of a production car, wild as the regular Evija may be.

The onboard footage is mega. It’s as though we’ve become so used to the languorous camera work of TV motorsport and the heavy machinery it captures, that when a piece raw footage and raw engineering come along in tandem like this, the return of a true sense of speed is utterly compelling.

Not only that, but it bodes well for the future of electric motorsport. Yes the Evija X was a one-off special, had near 2000bhp and only completed two laps, but still it had energy and pace at a fever pitch that would put most ICE cars to shame. Maybe everything will be alright after all?

Dirk MÜLLER Lotus Evija X 2023

We really do implore you to watch the video, not just for the eerie combo of lightning speed and the sci-fi soundtrack, but for one of the great motorsport spectacles in recent history. Wonder who will take the EV ‘Ring gauntlet up next?

By Seth Walton

Staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers, specialising in ownership and car advice