Lotus Omega – experience driving in the best limousine from the stables of Opel

Lotus Omega – experience driving in the best limousine from the stables of Opel

During a decline in car sales, the increase in interest in one group of cars is at the expense of other groups of cars. The same applies to sports cars.

Traditional coupes are losing fans and fast limousines are gaining them. The Golf GTI 16V takes potential buyers away from the Volkswagen Corrado, the appearance of the Vectra Turbo adversely affects the position of the Calibra Turbo, and cars such as the BMW M5 or Lotus Omega pose a serious threat to Porsche and even Ferrari.

Recently, I had the opportunity to drive the fastest limousine in the world – the Lotus Omega and see how the color combination affects the usability of the famous 4-door car in Europe. It is worth adding here that its worst variant comes with a 1.8-liter engine with a power of more than 100 hp, while the Lotus version is more than 3 times more powerful and 6 times more powerful.

It is based on the range and signal 3000 24V with all amplifiers. Complete Omegas (and in the case of the Vauxhall Carlton right hand version) are shipped to the Lotus company and the face of the car is changed there. British specialists have developed linear engines with increased capacity up to 3638 dm3 equipped with twin turbochargers, 6-speed gearboxes, improved chassis components and spoilers.

The Lotus Omega seen in the British Isles under the name Vauxhall Carlton debuted in March 1989, and production began several months later. Of course, it’s not good because the cars are made to the personal orders of GM importers.

I know Omega well, so at first I tried to find the difference between the Lotus and the version intended for buyers with the possibility of a more modest payment. In addition to the presence of a roll cage and pressure gauge, which were installed on the copy that was available to me, I did not notice any significant changes in the leather-trimmed interior.

A small Lotus Carlton badge appeared on the steering wheel, the number 6 on the gear knob, and the speedometer was increased to 300 km/h and 180 mph. In addition, the rubber-covered accelerator pedal has been replaced by a wide perforated aluminum plate. In terms of interior space, the Lotus remained a good 5-seater car, enabling long journeys without special restrictions on luggage.

Compared to the average Omegas, the appearance and filling level of the engine compartment has undergone significant changes. While in serial cars we have good access to the features contained, here we will not be able to insert our hand more. This state of affairs is largely due to the use of two independent turbochargers with large-diameter air ducts that flow from the filter through the compressor to the front-mounted intercoolers (hence the two large intakes in the spoiler) and then back to the intake manifold.

The question arises if the use of a twin turbo system is a matter of style (Maserati Biturbo, Safrane Biturbo, Nissan 300 ZX Twin Turbo) or if it has technical validity. Well, the designers said that if the increase in engine power (from 204 to 377 hp) was done using one big compressor, then the delay in the response behavior of the engine by pressing the accelerator pedal would be too great and, what’s worse, dangerous. The car – especially on a slippery surface – will be difficult to control. Replacing one large rotor with two lighter ones makes it easier for them to accelerate quickly, and thus leads to a faster response of the engine to pressing the accelerator pedal.

The engine of the R6 is basically not the most modern, but its refinement by experts in the field and equipment with great equipment means that nothing bad can be said about it. Despite the appearance, almost all the basic components of the engine have changed.

This is confirmed by, for example, different cylinder diameters, piston strokes and compression ratios. The first parameter increased slightly – from 95 to 95.8 mm, the second significantly – from 69.8 to 85 mm, and the last one was reduced from 10 to 8.2 due to addition. Increased power and torque, in turn, forced design changes on the drivetrain and a powerful braking system. The work of the engine does not show its great power, although several movements of the accelerator pedal cause the body to float to the side. This is a typical phenomenon that occurs in vehicles with a long-term installed drive unit.

The first minutes of driving confirmed my suspicions. This car can be driven in a completely normal way and, unless we exceed 3,000 revolutions per minute, the passengers will not realize that they are sitting in a very fast limousine. It is calm, quiet and comfortable. Just pressing the accelerator pedal changes the face of this car. The compressors react almost immediately and push the car forward, which is the best feeling you get when driving a sports car.

Acceleration in a straight line is not a problem. Despite not having an ideal load on the rear axle, the car does not tend to skid. This is thanks to 265mm wide tyres, 45% differential lock and self-adjusting rear wheel suspension.

Lotus Omega - wheel

However, a small range is enough for all these solutions to prove ineffective against the forces we can unleash. Counter steering only causes the car to slide smoothly along the bend. It can continue for a very long time, because there will certainly be no shortage of power and a further increase in engine speed, as long as we start to enjoy from about 2-3 thousand rpm. rpm With a maximum torque of 557 Nm, there is no fear of “filling” the engine. In any case, it copes with the car’s maximum weight of about 1,700 kg.

Reinforced controls, prevent the body from the side, increase the sense of driving safety. In general, the suspension characteristics are chosen very precisely, because even during heavy braking, the front end does not tend to “bow”. However, if that were to happen, the front spoiler, which is lowest on the road surface, would most likely be missing. The characteristics of shock absorbers are different. Adjustments are made from the driver’s seat.

Lotus Omega / Carlton BMW M5 Mercedes 500E
Engine/number of valves per cylinder R6/4 R6/4 V8/4
Location/power P-Pd/I 2xTurbo P-Pd/I P-Pd/I
Transfer (cm3) 3638 3795 4973
Power (kW) at rpm 277/5200 250/6900 240/5700
Torque (Nm) in rpm 557/4200 400/4750 480/3900
Drive/number of gears T/6 T/5 T/5
Body limousine limousine limousine
Number of doors/seats 44685 44685 38446
Height/Width/Height (cm) 477/181/143.5 472/175/139 475/179.5/141
Wheel base (cm) 273 276 280
Empty weight (kg) 1700 1700 1700
Cargo capacity (dm3) 520 460 485
0-100km/h 5.4 5.9 6.1
Max V (km/h) 283 250* 250*
ECE oil consumption (dm3/100km) 8.1/10.3/16.1 8.2/9.4/18.1 10.7/12.3/17.5

R – straight, V – V-shaped. P – front, T – back, Pd – longitudinal, I – needle. * Maximum electronic speed is limited.

Lotus is impressive at high speeds – 5.4 seconds to “hundred” may not be a big revelation, but the dynamics at high speeds seemed more interesting to me. Even above 200 km/h, pressing the accelerator pedal results in clear acceleration.

Despite the sporty nature of the car, the surprisingly flexible engine does not force you to change gears too often. The control lever works correctly, but because of the need to operate it with my left hand, I felt uncomfortable. It was the same for hitting a narrow chicane because I’m not used to driving a right-hand drive. Any error can be corrected when we move at a good speed, but above 200 km / h it is better not to do it.

The fifth and sixth gear ratios are long. This is confirmed by the engine speed of 4,000 / min (in 6th gear). and a corresponding speed of about 280 km/h. The fastest Lotus can be driven at 300 km / h (actually, about 283 km / h), but on the test track the speed is not so amazing.

It was very sunny in Hethel that day, so I didn’t have a chance to drive on the wet roads. I think that since the dry concrete made it slip under the wheels, then in the worst case a great measure of reason is needed when driving a car with such performance. In fact, a system that prevents breaking the grip of the wheels during acceleration will be necessary. But does a car designed for safe and efficient drivers need to have any controls?

Motor #9 February 27, 1993 cover
“Motor” No. 9 of February 27, 1993.

Text: Wojciech Sierrapowski; “Motor” 9/1997