New Esprit won't arrive until 2011; hybrids due for range-topping models

Lotus won’t replace the Esprit until early 2011, company boss Mike Kimberley has said. The British supercar is being totally redesigned after Lotus put it on the back burner to fast-track the new Lotus Evora.

Now there are hints that the range-topping Esprit could be offered as a hybrid, possibly using a mix of Lotus and Toyota technology.

Kimberley has said he wants to offer “guilt-free, high performance motoring” and admits the company is “working on something”.

With Lotus’ long-held expertise in lightweight structures, it has a wide-ranging engine development and alternative propulsion programmes on the go.

Kimberley is pretty scathing about early versions of the Esprit, which were under development before he returned to Lotus in 2006. “I lost it three times,” he said of its handling. “I also burnt out the clutch four times. Its engine wasn’t free-revving enough either.”

The new Lotus Esprit - there’s no word yet on whether this famous name will be revived – will use the same chassis platform as the new Evora, made wider and longer and with a new rear structure designed to accommodate a longitudinally mounted engine. It will also make use of the Evora’s compact double-wishbone suspension.

Besides this flagship Esprit, Lotus is working on additional versions of the Evora - there will eventually be six - including a two-seater, a convertible and an automatic. And work is also advancing on S3 versions of the Elise and Exige.

Kimberley claims that Lotus itself is in better shape since he arrived. The engineering side of the group, which the previous regime was thinking of closing down, has been rejuvenated. Lotus is currently working on 340 projects for 147 clients, Kimerley explained. “That’s not a record,” he said, “but not bad considering it was going to be rolled up.”

The company now has engineering centres in Detroit, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur as well as project in Abu Dhabi and India. Last year it made a modest £2 million profit after several years of losses, and that should continue to grow this year.

Richard Bremner

Join the debate

Comments
3

29 July 2008

They should make it go underwater, Bond-style.

29 July 2008

<<cough cough Lamborghini Gallardo>>

29 July 2008

Well, looks better than the Evora (what's with the silly name?!).

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Lavishly-equipped, rugged-looking Peugeot 508 estate is a pleasant drive, but there are many more recommendable alternatives
  • 308 GT 1.6-litre petrol is priced from £24,095
    First Drive
    27 March 2015
    Peugeot's given the 308 the engine from the 208 GTi 30th and some chassis upgrades; we find out if the changes bring a bit of old-school Peugeot hot-hatch magic to this likeable family hatch.
  • Car review
    26 March 2015
    Does Suzuki's new city runabout have what it takes to succeed?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    Collins Performance has given the Fiesta ST 270bhp and 265lb ft, but has our favourite fast Ford been ruined in the process?
  • First Drive
    26 March 2015
    The Seat Leon X-Perience is the closest thing to an SUV that you can buy with a Seat badge for now, blending estate practicality with off-road ability