The battle lines are drawn. The race to build Britain’s fastest and most
car is on. But it’s not McLaren, Bentley or even Aston Martin that aims
to lead the way. It’s Lotus.
During an exclusive gathering at the company’s HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, chief technical officer Wolf Zimmermann told Auto Express of his plans to build a flagship Superleggera version
of the next-generation Esprit – and we can show you what it will look like in our exclusive images.
Bosses held the meeting to face critics of the New Era plan, which in June 2010 revealed five new cars would be launched in five years. As well as confirming the flagship Esprit, Lotus unveiled plans for a city car called Ethos – to rival the Aston Martin Cygnet
– plus the 2+2 Elite, four-door Eterne and the Elise Evolution.
There was also news on the
next Elan, which Lotus says it will put on hold until 2017, when it will replace the Evora. The range-topping Superleggera features an upgraded version of the firm’s 562bhp 4.8-litre V8 engine. This generates maximum power of 612bhp at 9,000rpm. It will also get a special
aluminium body that promises to be even stronger and lighter than the one in standard models.
According to Zimmerman, the car will not simply be a stripped-out racer for the road, but a
carefully designed evolution of the standard Esprit. In fact, the Superleggera will be the fourth model in the range, alongside
the coupé, convertible and a glass-roofed Targa edition.
Based on projected figures for the standard car, the Superleggera could sprint from 0-60mph in under three seconds, and
hit a top speed of 212mph.
A seven-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox will offer rapid shifts, while an electro-
hydraulic power-steering system will give the driver as much ‘feel’ as possible. “This car will not be like the McLaren MP4-12C,” said Zimmermann. “It will be cooler
– there will be more emotion.”