A legendary Lotus is returning – it’s the new Esprit! The dust has only just settled on the stunning Evora, but already the Norfolk firm is setting its sights even higher. And our exclusive pictures show how the reborn supercar will take shape.
The new mid-engined model revives a badge that was used on the original Lotus flagship between 1976 and 2004. And with a choice of six, eight and 10-cylinder powerplants, it will take the fight to the Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo, as well as Audi’s storming R8 V10.
Lotus’s special relationship with Toyota has been well documented – the Japanese manufacturer already supplies engines for the Elise, Exige and 2-Eleven, plus the Evora. Our sources have revealed that the partnership will step up a gear for the Esprit. Toyota’s luxury arm, Lexus, will be called on to provide a pair of high-power engines.
The entry-level Esprit will be equipped with a tuned version of the Evora’s 3.5-litre V6, producing around 300bhp, while a mid-range model gets the 414bhp 5.0-litre V8 from the Lexus IS F. But taking the new Lotus into the big league will be the earth-shattering 550bhp 4.8-litre V10 from the upcoming LF-A supercar.
Mated to a six-speed semi-automatic paddleshift transmission, this unit should provide the Esprit with performance to match some of the fastest cars on the planet.
A 0-60mph sprint time of less than four seconds is expected, and judging by pre-production testing of the LF-A (see Issue 1,066), the car is likely to hit a top speed in excess of 200mph.
Underpinning the model will be a wider and longer version of the Evora’s rear-wheel-drive platform. This should ensure the handling is worthy of the Esprit name. The wedge-like profile clearly takes cues from Giorgetto Giugiaro’s 1976 design – a car made famous by 1977’s James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.
But a combination of creases and curves is used to provide the modern-day Esprit with a muscular and aggressive stance on the road. Inside, the newcomer will build on the style of the Evora’s leather-clad cabin – so it’s expected to be the most luxurious interior Lotus has ever designed, a must if the car is to tempt customers away from more established supercar manufacturers.
Prices are likely to start from around £75,000 for the entry-level car, and rise to £150,000 for the V10. We’ll have to wait until at least 2012 for the Esprit’s official debut, though. Lotus won’t embark on final development until the Evora is making a consistent profit. But by adding the new car to the line-up, total production at the firm’s Hethel plant could reach 4,000-5,000 models annually.
Audi's R8V10 will be the main target for reborn Esprit, with Ferrari F430 and the Lamborghini Gallardo also firmly in its sights