Lotus Opens Showroom in Tehran

Lotus Opens  Showroom in TehranLotus Opens  Showroom in Tehran

With very little fanfare, Britain's Lotus brand opened the doors of its very first showroom in Iran unveiling the Elise 220 sports coupe to Iranian car fanatics.

Present at the ceremony was Jonathan Stretton, director of Lotus cars in Middle East and North Africa, along with officials from local car company ILIA Motor, automotive news website Asre Khodro reported.

Mohammadali Basravi, CEO of ILIA Motor, said the company "seeks to become the largest representative of the British brand in the Middle East".

He added that once Iranian buyers place an order, the vehicle will be ready for delivery in at most two and a half months. The handmade vehicles have been priced at about 3 to 4 billion rials ($118,000 at market exchange rate) which is at least double the price in international markets.

Financial Tribune contacted Avid Ommi, sales manager of the company, who said Lotus cars and their Iranian counterpart had been negotiating a deal for over two years and finally managed to reach an agreement in March 2015.

Due to the ban placed by the Iranian government on the import of cars with engines over 2.5 liters, the company will at first be taking orders only for the Elise S and Elsie 220 Cup.   

If the regulations change, the Exige and Evora might be the next models that will make their way to Tehran.

"We expect to receive at least 120 orders per year from Iran," Ommi said.

To build their presence in the region, Lotus opened a showroom in Dubai in 2013.

Founded in 1952, Lotus designs and builds lightweight sports and racing cars, and is famous for its highly successful Team Lotus in Formula One.

  About the Cars

First launched in 1996, the Lotus Elise has long been respected for offering near-on supercar performance for significantly less than supercar price.

These days though, the so-called "supercars" are becoming ever more drivable. Their electronic system is up-to-date, manual transmissions are few and connection between car and driver has been progressively dulled. However, the Lotus is very different from this trend.

Standing tall among a limited crop of purist models–including the Caterham Seven–Elise made its intentions clear from the very beginning: Less is more and weight (or a lack of it) is king.

Initially launched in the region at Dubai, the UAE, in June last year starting at $83,250, the Club Racer–or CR–originally teamed a more than 20 kg weight reduction with sports suspension (comprising Eibach coaxial springs and Bilstein mono-tube gas dampers), an adjustable front anti-roll bar, and satin black alloy wheels fitted with high performance Yokohama Advan tyres.

Helping to cut kilos from the "normal" Elise S were weight reductions to the drivetrain and body, as well as the deletion of remote central locking, a stereo, a cup holder, sound deadening, mud flaps and a roof.

Like all Elises, at 3.8 meters long, 1.7 meters wide, and 1.1 meter tall, the S CR is small. It is also notoriously "challenging" to get into.

The Lotus Elise S Club Racer is the result of years of honing and fine-tuning. It is as harder to drive on the road as it is on the track, but its combination of exquisite balance, supreme control and otherworldly response is at a level few cars come close to delivering, regardless of the price.