13 April 2004

The next Lotus Esprit is tipped to use one of Autocar’s favourite engines of recent years: BMW’s firecracker V8 from the recently departed M5 saloon (right).

Senior-placed sources have confirmed that Hethel is considering the 4.9-litre lump from the outgoing E39 5-series. Lotus had previously been linked with Toyota, following the deal to supply the Celica engine for the latest Elise 111R.

In BMW’s application, the V8 developed 400bhp and 369lb ft of torque. Lotus is considering a forced induction system to raise outputs further and has proven experience from turbocharging the previous Esprit.

Following the classic supercar formula, the V8 will be mounted longitudinally amidships in the Esprit’s extruded aluminium chassis, driving the rear wheels. The car’s modern, wedgy shape was first revealed in our scoop on 3 February.

The current Esprit ceased production this spring and its successor – tipped to carry a different name – will be launched in 2006. Priced at around £75,000, it will rival supercars such as the Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 360 Modena and Lamborghini Gallardo.

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