Currently reading: New Esprit tests as an Exige
Spy pictures show Exige fitted with an Esprit powertrain

This heavily modified Lotus Exige is the first visual evidence of the recently approved project to replace the Esprit supercar.

Sources say the wide rear track and large wheels on this mule show it is fitted with an early version of the new Esprit powertrain.

See the Lotus Esprit spy pictures

The plan to build a new Esprit (the historic name may not be used for the showroom model) was recently revealed in Autocar. Our source also said that Lotus is “targeting a power-to-weight ratio of 275-325bhp per tonne” for what it described as its “essential brand image builder”.

There’s no news yet on the Esprit’s engine, but it’s likely to be a Toyota-sourced V8, possibly a version of the unit that powers the Lexus IS-F. The fact that Lotus still has a wide target for the power-to-weight ratio shows the project is at a very early stage.

The Esprit’s aluminium chassis and engine are some way from being their final definition, but the car will use a version of Lotus’s Versatile Vehicle Architecture.

Lotus’s plan, due to revealed soon by new CEO Danny Bahar, is said to focus on a three-tier line-up. The four-cylinder Exige, Elise and Europa will be the entry-level models, and the bigger V6 Evoras (including the forthcoming convertible) will be the mid-range cars. The Esprit will be the “ultimate expression of the brand” according to our source.

Hilton Holloway

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RacingPuma 30 November 2009

Re: New Esprit tests as an Exige

My sources have now confirmed that this car is NOT an Esprit test mule.

If anyone still needs convincing, take a look at this -

The Pilbeam RSW Evo is an Exige based car fitted with either a 2.4 V8 or 2.3 V6 turbo. Note how much the car has had to be stretched ahead of the rear wheels to fit these engines in.

Anyone who still thinks that the modified Exige in Autocar's pics has a 5.0 V8 Lexus IS-F engine needs to go to Specsavers. There clearly isn't enough room for that engine.

23knots 26 November 2009

Re: New Esprit tests as an Exige

The Esprit will look exactly like an Elise/Elise/Elisa, so this is a genuine pic. Of course Evo etc will be bursting their pants once the test drive and Lotus hospitality becomes available, but as an ex Lotus owner, I definitely won't be interested in what will no doubt be another piss take from this company.

RacingPuma 26 November 2009

Re: New Esprit tests as an Exige

I'm not convinced that this is an Esprit mule. It simply makes no sense for Lotus to use the short wheelbase Exige as a test mule for a much larger car when they have a much better option available - The Evora. The Evora is almost exactly the right size - the rear passenger area providing space for the V8 Esprit engine.

This car is more likely to be a project for another manufacturer (Lotus are always keen to sell to other manufacturers e.g. VX220) or a racing version of the Exige, or even the next generation Elise!

BTW the source of the 275 - 325bhp per tonne Esprit power to weight figure is here (in a graph in the presentation slides)