News that as part of its new five-year plan, just announced, Lotus is to move from its present position as a niche sports car maker to chase the likes of Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin is at once shocking and predictable.
It has long been clear that Lotus's owners, Proton, are convinced that the Lotus name has more inherent prestige value than its low to mid-priced offerings have seemed to convey. Lotus is, after all, one of the few road cars you can buy (Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault are the others, soon to be followed by McLaren) whose name also goes on the nose of an F1 car.
It is even possible to see how they intend to do it in the short term, too. The recently launched Evora, a slow seller, has chassis and suspension technology designed to work with the so-called 'new Esprit', a 200mph exotic car with a big capacity north-south engine, meant to fight in the same pool as the new Ferrari 458 and the forthcoming McLaren MP4-12C. There is certainly no shortage of engineering expertise at Lotus to devise other high-priced concepts.
Nevertheless, the move must fill many long-time Lotus-watchers with feelings of deep uncertainty. Lotus has no history of building cars strong on quality and craftsmanship, like Porsches or modern Astons. The Evora, good in so many ways, showed that these things will have to be learned.