Lotus is planning a new coupé based on a stretched version of the Elise to fight mainstream rivals such as the Audi TT and forthcoming Porsche Boxster coupé.
The car marks the re-birth of the late-lamented M250 concept car (right) – a 2+2 coupé canned in 2002 – and will fit between the Elise and the new Esprit. Lotus insiders say the company is keen to cash in on the coupé boom exploited by cars like the TT, and pricing could start from £30,000.
The styling of the two-door, with its removable hard-top, is revealed here in detail after Lotus registered designs to ensure they own the copyright to the swooping new look.Obvious in these pictures is the family resemblance to the Elise and the Lotus-built Vauxhall VX220 – emphasised by the use of VX Turbo wheels – but the styling of the coupé differs in some major details. Most apparent is the smoother body surfacing, which loses the intricate folds and scoops of the Elise, and the more restrained bonnet and nose characterised by a more conventional headlight design.
Lotus said the car is ‘an evaluation concept for a car with more touring capability than track ability. But we have no thoughts on a decision when it might go into production.’
‘It’s a higher specification than the Elise or Exige and the engine is still under consideration, but it will be a world car saleable in all markets.’
A prototype Elise with a longer wheelbase and wider track has been circulating at Lotus’ Hethel test track in recent weeks, testing the technology that underpins the new car. The bonded-alloy frame is a modified version of today’s Elise with a wider and longer cockpit, due to a stretched wheelbase and wider track.
‘Thanks to our motor sport experience with the Elise GT1 sports car we know what sort of power the rear part of the frame can take,’ said a source at Lotus. ‘Now we need to look at what we can do in the front module.’