Lotus has revealed plans for a stunning front-engined, 2+2 V8 coupe, reminiscent of Aston Martin's DB9 and scheduled for launch in early 2014.
The car, a hybrid that incorporates a Lotus-developed KERS system, will be the third front-engined model in Lotus's 52-year history to use the revered Elite name. Its launch confirms months of speculation that Hethel is deadly serious about challenging Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin head on with cars costing £100,000 plus. More models are expected, including an Elite offshoot to challenge Aston Martin's Rapide saloon.
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar only joined the company last year. But since then he's been working on a multi-model Lotus revival plan, of which the Elite is only one step. Bahar calls the new model "a car of perfect contradictions: compact yet spacious, high performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid."
The new Elite will be made both as a fixed-head coupe and with a retractable hard-top. It's not clear yet whether there will be a full convertible.
The structured, muscular new Elite shape ditches Lotus's traditional 'mouth' in favour of a new, squarer and more aggressive intake, which is likely to be used in various forms on future models. There are no details yet of the interior, beyond Lotus's intention to use an own-design touch-screen for all major functions. Company insiders are well aware that Lotus will have to ramp up its craftsmanship skills if it is to compete successfully with the Aston/Porsche brigade.