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