The first new Lotus in the firm’s ambitious growth plans will be this stunning £110,000 replacement for the Esprit, due in 2013.
The new Lotus Esprit, revealed today at the Paris motor show, has been chosen as leader of the new wave for its familiar name and format, and because it will explain the company’s new intentions better than others.
Powered by a Lotus-supercharged 5.0 litre Lexus V8 (revving to 8000 rpm and producing 550bhp or 620bhp in the R version) it will have a seven-speed paddle-shift gearbox, a KERS system, a 0-62 mph time of between 3.2 and 3.5 seconds and a CO2 output of just 250 g/km — very low output for the class and consistent with Lotus’s intention of offering the most efficient cars in their classes.
The car’s kerb weight of 1495 kg doesn’t make it quite the featherweight of past Lotuses, but engineers insist it’s lighter than class contenders.
New Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and ex-Ferrari design chief Donato Coco have worked around the clock to design five cars – three mid-engined sports cars and two front-engines – all of which employ versions of a new corporate front-end design stronger than the traditional Lotus air intake.
“Even today’s economy cars have stronger frontal designs than the traditional Lotus mouth” says Coco. “It was time to find something better suited to the modern era.
“We found a stronger, more dynamic look on the early Lotus Seven and the Lotus 18 single-seater, and we have converted that into a look we think works better, even on models as dynamic as the next generation Esprit supercar.”
The new Lotus models, which Bahar insists will employ the purist engineering principles of lightness and simplicity pioneered the earliest Lotuses by the company’s founder, Colin Chapman, will take the company from annual production of around 2700 sub-£40,000 cars, to between 6000 and 7000 cars costing between £80,000 and £120,000.