Currently reading: New V6 hybrid ‘Esprit’ to lead Lotus expansion plan
Norfolk car maker is also creating a new platform for future models, perhaps including a revived Elan
3 mins read
16 March 2020

The first series-production Lotus for 12 years will feature a design heavily inspired by the Evija hypercar and a newly developed, hybridised V6 powertrain.

Expected to be shown in the first half of next year before going on sale in the following months, the new Lotus will revive the format of the Esprit as a Ferrari-baiting super sports car with a price set in the low six figures. Like that iconic model, it will be intended to retain the Norfolk brand’s celebrated driving dynamics while offering increased everyday usability and refinement over existing models.

The car, which may or may not use the Esprit name, will serve to bridge the gap between Lotus’s existing line-up and further future models based on an architecture that’s new from the ground up.

Replacing the 25-year-old Exige/Elise platform and the 12-year-old Evora underpinnings, the new rivet-bonded platform will provide the basis for a new range which, as Autocar revealed last year, could include a revived Elan as well as other models in a number of segments. “There’s this car, then there’s the new platform,” Lotus CEO Phil Popham has previously said.

Before these models arrive, this 2021 model will be the last series-production car to be spun off the current extruded aluminium platform used in the Evora. However, the car is not intended as a direct Evora replacement, instead sitting above it as a separate model.

Autocar has learned that the new car will make use of a V6 powertrain related to today’s Toyota-sourced unit. However, Lotus has developed a new hybrid system to supplement it, presumably using learnings from Geely-owned sister brand, Volvo. The plan follows on from the all-electric Evija, with Popham previously expressing a desire to electrify every new Lotus in some form.

There’s no word on the power output at this stage, but given the Evora 410 puts out 404bhp with the aid of a supercharger, the new powertrain is likely to take the figure well in excess of 500bhp. Lotus lives by founder Colin Chapman’s famed “simplify and add lightness” mantra, so expect engineers to aim to keep the new car’s kerb weight as light as possible, despite the addition of hybrid tech. It remains to be seen if the V6 will feature forced induction or natural aspiration.


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Although purists may hanker for a revival of the original’s shape, expect a modernist design that essentially evokes the look of a shrunken Evija. Like the Evora, a mid-engined layout will dictate its look, but despite the low-slung design and what is described as a ‘very driver-focused package’ it will be the most usable Lotus on sale. The new car won’t feature a 2+2 seating layout, instead offering a spacious two-seat cabin with ample storage.

Lotus is able to invest heavily in a five-year plan thanks to what Popham describes as a “huge opportunity” under Geely ownership. The large and well-resourced Chinese company brings with it new “design, engineering and manufacturing opportunities” along with plenty of cash: Popham said: “We’re not talking tens or hundreds of millions but billions”.

Beside the plans to increase its model line-up, including a long-mooted SUV, Lotus is also well under way with the expansion of its Hethel headquarters. The brand currently sells around 1500 cars annually, but the larger base will give it a capacity to build around 5000.

With the new car engineered from the start to meet regulations in China and North America, it’s expected to play a core role in achieving those figures.


Opinion: Why the Lotus Esprit revival makes sense 

All-new Lotus model due next year 

New Lotus Evija electric hypercar makes dynamic video debut 

Lotus Elan in frame as Boxster rival in revival plan

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16 March 2020

I'm assuming it is an Autocar image of what the future model could look like and it works.   Works so much better than the Marek Reichman designs for the Valhalla and Vanquish.   It looks sporty but in a format that drivers can get in and out of without a team of engineers!


Then there is the investment by Geely.   That is something which Aston Martin desperately needed.   Alas, I suspect that one reason why Stroll was picked over Geely by Andy Palmer was that he and Reichman would have been out.   Quickly.


Geely would want to buy all of Aston, not just a bit of it.   They would want the spoils of helping put Aston back on its feet, not providing all the help for only a partial return.   Palmers shares would have been wiped out, the value gone.   For Palmer it is better to keep Stroll and hope there is a rise again.


Aston down £2.06 close on Friday (13th, March, 2020).   At one point dropped to a 10th of the value of their IPO launch.   Name another CEO who has survived such a drop in corporate value?


The Geely tie-up between Aston and Lotus could work.   Both are developing hybrid V6 engines and streamlining that could bring benefits.   Better access to technology by Geely than they currently have via Mercedes too.   Not using previous generations technology, and with the glass dashboard of the new Mercedes it is a look that Aston will have to adopt.   Is that really an Aston look?


We have still to see the fruits of Geelys involvement in Lotus but the news is always positive and you can not help wonder how they would help Aston too.


16 March 2020

As usual you seem to have to make issue with OTHER brands that have no relevance to the post, would it be possible for you to comment on ten post without having to denegrate another brand.Also Dr Palmer HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH STROLL taking a make shareholding in AM, he is just in charge it was the major shareholders that decided on this, he might have been asked for his opinion, but he had nothing to do with the final decision, and you do relise that the AM engine is a Mercedes Unit, so i am sure that they would have something to say about it first, even though Geely owns just under 10% of Daimler, it seems like you would only be happy once the Chinese owns everything - as recent times have proved, putting ALL your eggs into one basket does not make the world better...Oh yes this is a post on the new Lotus engine and platform and possible new cars from LOTUS - Not Aston Martin.... please keep it relevant.

16 March 2020
jonboy4969 wrote:

Oh yes this is a post on the new Lotus engine and platform and possible new cars from LOTUS - Not Aston Martin.... please keep it relevant.


Geely put forward a bid to buy part of Aston Martin but CEO Andy Palmer went with Stroll instead.   Hence the relevance to this article because Geely wanted to share technology between Lotus and Aston.


16 March 2020

I have always admired Lotus yet after 30 or so years of multiple car ownership, I've never actually bought one, new or used.

I've loved the driving experience when I've driven them, but there was always a reason to not actually buy. The original Elan is wonderful as long as you're never hit in the side, the Esprit always felt a bit kit-car like, the Elise/Exige a bit hardcore for everyday driving, the Evora hard to justify against a used 911, and so on. 

I totally understand why people love them because they are always so entertaining to drive. However, I really hope they produce future models that retain the qualities that make them special, together with improved fit and finish, more attention to detail, less prone to annoying small reliability issues and greater attention to customer support. 

The opposition is very strong, so Lotus really needs to get it right this time if they are to survive into the future.

16 March 2020

If I were Popham, rather than trumpeting about "billions", I'd be a little bit more circumspect and publicly discreet, especially as the economic climate has become so much more uncertain.  The billions might be put on hold or trimmed to billions of yuan rather than pounds, which would be a bit of a smile wiper.

16 March 2020

I'd like to see a new Lotus, just to see something different on the road, I'd particularly like to see an Elan.

16 March 2020

This new 'Esprit' is already disadvantaged before it's even born since it will be based on a 10 year old platform.

16 March 2020
manicm wrote:

This new 'Esprit' is already disadvantaged before it's even born since it will be based on a 10 year old platform.

. Maybe it was ten years ahead of it time then?, which would..?

16 March 2020
Peter Cavellini wrote:

manicm wrote:

This new 'Esprit' is already disadvantaged before it's even born since it will be based on a 10 year old platform.

. Maybe it was ten years ahead of it time then?, which would..?

Wishful thinking, and good luck on bolting on a hybrid system on it. Just remember the i8 weighed a relatively featherweight 1500 odd kilos - but with a 3cyl. With nearly full carbon fiber .

So good luck Lotus.

16 March 2020

Folks are dreaming here. And of course we won’t here a negative word from auto car either. I’ve long tussled with the U.K. auto writers and there blind love of all things British -Chinese owned or no, goes on unabashedly. I tried so hard to make clear to folks just how inappropriate it was for Aston to bet their future on heavy aluminum, and I was met with so much scorn from the road test engineer here. And now it is equally clear how inappropriate this heavy wright design will continue to be. Colin would be rather shocked at the dogmatic myopia still pervading the press and the a significant portion of the enthusiast auto investor community. It appears that we all continue to suffer from math like procedural and binary thinking above looking out from above. J 


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