The spiritual successor to the Lotus Esprit, which will use a V6 powertrain and be priced above £100,000, has been spotted testing for the first time ahead of its 2021 debut.
Development prototypes of the upcoming Ferrari-baiting sports car have been seen close to Lotus's headquarters in Hethel, Norfolk, disguised by Lotus Evora bodyshells that have been widened to accommodate the modified chassis.
Although these early prototypes don't give any clues towards the new car's styling, it's widely expected to adopt the design language seen on the 1973bhp Evija electric hypercar.
Exclusively revealed by Autocar earlier this year, the reborn Esprit will be the first all-new Lotus production car for twelve years.
It's set to use a V6 powertrain sourced from Toyota, supplemented by a hybrid system developed in-house that could push power north of 500bhp. In that case, it would eclipse the 410bhp Evora GT410, although the car is expected to sit above it in the Lotus line-up rather than replace it outright.
The Esprit should have a mid-engine layout and a two-seat cabin instead of the 2+2 layout found in some Evora models.
The new car will be the last to use Lotus' extruded aluminium platform, ahead of an all-new design arriving alongside a greatly expanded model range that could include a reborn Elan to compete with the Porsche 718 Boxster.
It's currently unknown whether Lotus will choose to reuse the Esprit name or give the car an all-new title.
Lotus currently sells around 1500 cars per year but is in the process of expanding its Hethel base to enable it to build 5000. This is part of the British brand's five-year plan that will include the introduction of its first SUV, as well as the Evija and more mainstream sports cars, thanks to investment from new Chinese owner Geely.