Spies catch snowy Lotus mule in Sweden, running blown 4.4-litre BMW V8

Spy shots of a disguised Lotus prototype wearing an old Esprit body disguise have emerged from a snow-bound cold weather test centre in Sweden. What's more, it seems that this mystery Lotus isn't a mule for the forthcoming 'Eagle' GT, as first thought; it's actually a powertrain development car for the next Esprit.This mule has given us a clue as to the origins of the engine that's likely to power 2010's hottest British sports car too. DVLA records matching its number plate reveal that it's powered by a 4.4-litre V8. Since Lotus sources have advised Autocar that BMW will probably supply the engine for Hethel's all-new flagship, it's likely that this new Esprit is packing a tuned, 500bhp version of Munich's new 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, as seen in the new X6 crossover SUV.

New Esprit: engine by BMW + handling by Lotus = Hethel's best ever?

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer has publicly stated that his company wants to sell more engine technology to third parties. On top of the financial gain, BMW will score strong PR points in Britain by providing engines for Lotus.BMW’s newest 4.4-litre twin-turbo will debut in the X6 with 420bhp. By 2010, when we expect the new Esprit to arrive, it will have been used in a number of other BMW models including the X5 and the 7-series. Lotus will probably re-work the engine management and extract a Nissan GT-R- and Porsche 911 Turbo-rivalling power figure in excess of 500bhp.BMW's old 4.4-litre Valvetronic normally aspirated V8 had been rumoured as an option for a new Esprit, but BMW discontinued it from its own range in 2006. Now, however, the prospect of new BMW grunt combined with peerless Lotus dynamics seems more viable, and more exciting, than ever.

Will Powell

Join the debate


15 February 2008

Can't wait. Like welcoming back an old friend that's been abroad for what is it, 7, 8 or 9yrs! Hope they bring out a 6cyl before the range topping V8 twin turbo. And if Lotus has access to BMW's engine range be great to see the 335 petrol, even 335 diesel as options. Not sure Lotus have got their design themes right (the current Elise isn't as good as the original design) but still a top end product from Lotus will be warmly welcomed from this Lotus fan.

16 February 2008

Just a note for Will:

The E39 M5 engine was not a Valvetronic 4.4 litre. It was a 5.0 litre with 8 throttle bodies. And I am pretty sure the 4.4 litre Valvetronic engine (333 hp) satisfied the Euro IV emissions regulations because it was used in the 545i, 645i and 745i when first launched and also in the facelifted previous X5 but slightly detuned at 320 hp. The reason BMW discontinued its production is because this engine was replaced by two new units: the 4.0 litre V8 (306 hp) used in 540i, 740i and the 4.8 ltre V8 (367 hp) used in 650i and 750i. I am still excited though with the idea of a BMW powered Lotus. Thanks.

Sotiris Mamalis

University of Michigan

17 February 2008


BMW doesn't currently have a sports car in its range, despite a new M1 being mooted many times before.

BMW also state that they are interested in selling more of their technology to third parties, something Lotus have an extensive knowledge of.

Proton have been looking for a partner to move their business forward, witness the talks with VW. A cash injection would also help.

Can anyone else see a pattern here or am I reading too much in to this engine supply deal. Certainly as a business case it holds water, despite the slight overlap between Lotus's possible position in the company and the M division.

It wouldn't be the first time a German car giant has taken on British engineering expertise either (Audi's purchase of Cosworth).

If there does end up being a tie up between BMW and Proton / Lotus, I sincerely hope that it doesn't go the way of the whole MG Rover debacle. Mind you have we not already been here several times before with Lotus!!!



It's all about the twisties........

17 February 2008

Let's hope they get Lotus profitable and sell proton to VW, Although new Lotus Esprit with BMW V8 sounds brilliant! Maybe Lotus should develop the Ultimate Driving Machines!

18 February 2008

Still, you've got to question the validity of using the numberplate to guess the engine. It's reg is AU54 ENX so the mule would have had a 4.4l engine in it 3 years ago. Does the DVLA get notified every time the engine is changed, especially when the car in question is a mule that would undergo major changes regularly?

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