In 2006, the second generation Lotus Elise was already five years old and, with the honourable exception of its hard-topped relative the Exige, it was the only car Lotus was able to offer customers. The gap before the incessantly speculated-on Esprit replacement or the purpose-built Evora GT car arrived was inevitably going to be a very long one so in the best British fashion, Lotus adopted a stiff upper lip and worked with what it had.
What it had was the Elise platform, lightweight, immensely rigid and superb on track, which it had recently adapted for use in the longer wheelbase Vauxhall VX220. This formed the basis of the Europa with power supplied by the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that came in the range-topping, and quite indecently fast, VX220 Turbo model. With the turbocharged unit making acceleration available at lower revs than the normally-aspirated Toyota-sourced engine in the Elise and the longer wheelbase serving to smooth-out the ride while increasing the space available, the thinking behind the Europa looked sold.
The car was launched in 2006 as the Europa S, the S suffix serving to differentiate it from the classic Lotus Europa models of the 60s and 70s. The 2.0-litre engine originally developed 200bhp but in 2008, the range was supplemented by the Europa SE which had a 225bhp version of the same unit. By this stage, the standard car wasn't being referred to as the Europa S by anyone and at some point Lotus officially adopted plain-old Europa as the car's name.