Lotus Esprit

28 Sep, 2006 1:00am Ross Pinnock

Beneath this stealthy disguise is the long-awaited Lotus Esprit replacement

Fans of the Norfolk brand will be delighted to read that the mid-engined sports car is actually one of a trio of new models under development. Our spies snapped this car on test in Europe - and the model in front could provide a clue to the source of its engine.

Insiders say that the flagship will use BMW's 4.4-litre V8, which can also be found in the X5 in our pictures. Lotus has yet to name the newcomer, but it will debut in December 2009. Before the car takes a bow, two unexpected new models will debut. First will be a Proton Satria-based hot hatch. The Malaysian motor has been developed with the aid of Lotus' handling experts, but the UK firm will offer its own much revised version with a huge performance hike. Likely to wear Lotus Satria badging and promising to be even faster than Proton's own Satria GTi, it will arrive in May 2008. This will be followed in December by a mid-range Lotus. Details are closely guarded, but it will sit between the fresh Europa S and Esprit successor.

Meanwhile, the firm has announced plans to cut its workforce by more than 15 per cent - 200 jobs - by the end of the year. Falling sales have been blamed.
AEX 1337
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