British maker Lotus has confirmed that it will be building its own V8 engine for its upcoming range of new supercars. But at the other end of the line-up, it has also confirmed that a new city car will go on sale in the UK in 2014 too.
The new engine will be 4.8-litre V8, designed and built in Hethel, Norfolk. It will weigh around 170kg – that's 80kg lighter than the engine from the Lexus IS-F that was originally going to be used. The latter was vetoed by prospective buyers who thought the reborn firm should produce its own engines from the ground-up.
With a flat-plane crankshaft and a dry sump, the V8 will develop 570bhp and rev to 9,000rpm in standard tune. That figure will rise to 620bhp in even faster R versions.
The engine will be fired up on a test bench on August 18 and used in a new LMP2 racing car. It will then appear in the Esprit – due in 2013 in coupe and convertible form – and then the Elite 2+2 drop-top and Eterne four-door coupe. The engine will be a modular unit, so a four-cylinder unit (for the next-generation Elise) and a V6 will be produced from it too.
Lotus also confirmed it will build its city car concept, which will be based on the EMAS from parent company Proton. Of the five sports cars revealed at last year's Paris Motor Show, the Elan has been shelved. Lotus boss Dany Bahar told Auto Express that the noses of the Esprit and Elan had been redesigned to distance the two cars from each other, but the Elan has now been put on ice completely.
LOTUS V8 ENGINE: 90 degree V8, 4.8-litres
First run: August 2011
Specification: 570bhp@9,000rpm, 540Nm@3,000rpm
Built: Hethel, UK
Plans for the new V8 engine are well advanced, and the unit will be run for the first time on August 18th 2011. The unit is modular, meaning engineers can create a four cylinder by chopping it in half, and a V6 by chopping the final two cylinders off it. As well as appearing in the Esprit (below) the engine could also see duty under the bonnet of a new Lotus developed LMP2 car and power the forthcoming Elise, Eterne and Elite. Capable of developing up to 620bhp the engine could also be used to power high performance editions of Lotus core line-up.
Lotus made the decision to abandon its earlier plans to use the Toyota V8 (as appears in the Lexus IS-F) as it was deemed to big and too heavy. It will be fitted to test mules for road tests later this year.
LOTUS ESPRIT: mid-engined coupé, two-seater
Launch: March 2013
Specification: 4.8-litre V8, 570bhp, 0-60mph 3.4
Built: Hethel, UK
Price: £100,000-plus (estimate)
The Esprit will be the first all-new Lotus to be designed by Danny Bahar’s team, and is arguably the most ambitious new car the firm has ever launched. Its Lotus designed and built 4.8-litre V8 engine will run for the first time in August. Built entirely from aluminium the Esprit’s target weight is 1,460kg. It’s chassis will be very different to that of the extruded alumium arrangement in the Evora. It’s ‘torque tube’ design is reminiscent of the original Esprit’s backbone chassis. Engineer Zimmermann claims the whole arrangement will weigh around 230kgs. Forged aluminium wishbone suspension features as does electro-hydraulic power steering. Bahar says the management structure’s focus on cost, and the speed with which the company can make decisions has kept development costs for the new Esprit “at around £100million”. The technology developed will also be used across Elite, Eterne and Elise Evolution models.
LOTUS ETHOS: front-engined citycar, four-seater
Launch: Spring 2014
Specification: 1.2-litre 4-cyl, hybrid (unconfirmed)
Built: Malaysia, trimmed UK
Price: £30,000 plus (estimate)
According Lotus Chief Technical Officer Wolf Zimmermann, the Ethos citycar was only agreed two days before it was presented to Auto Express. Though detail is scarce, it’s being tipped to use a 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder hybrid engine, capable of returning more than 60mpg. Amazingly, this engine could also find its way into an Evora… The front engined car Ethos will offer room for four passengers, and will be built alongside a Proton equivalent, possibly at Proton’s factory in Perak, Malaysia. In a mirror of the arrangement between Toyota and Aston Martin, that sees the iQ turned into the Cygnet, the car will then be delivered to Lotus and trimmed, ready for sale to customers.