Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

The driving position is very low, exaggerating the sensation of speed and excitement - although there's no reach adjustment in the steering. The interior is a blend of race car features and minimalist design, with plenty of bare aluminium on display, but it is carpeted and trimmed in leather too. The finish is good overall, but it doesn't feel particularly sophisticated and there are few gadgets on board - the column stalks are borrowed from a MK3 Vauxhall Astra which isn't what you'd expect.

The aftermarket stereo is especially fiddly and the exterior mirrors need moving then it's a case of lowering the window and doing it by hand.

Compared to the Elise and Exige, the Europa has a slightly softer suspension set-up, so it rides better. This is especially noticeable on rough roads where it's more forgiving. Lotus markets this as a more refined model, but despite the extra interior trim and improved noise insulation it still feels very basic and over long journeys it's tiring to drive or be a passenger.

Engine noise is a little more subdued than in an Elise and the seats are softer and wider too, but it's still very much a sports car rather than a grand tourer. It's a squeeze just getting into the Europa, and once inside passenger and driver are in very close proximity to one another. Climbing out of the low seat and clearing the wide sill to make a graceful exit is even more awkward until a technique is mastered, but it's definitely not for those who are overly large, have a bad back or wear mini skirts.

There is no shortage of head room, but it's not a roomy cabin and the wrap-around bucket seats adjust only forwards or back. The ride can get quite choppy on poor roads and although it has better sound proofing than other Lotus models, it's still pretty noisy.