Yesterday Lotus Cars began what the storied British automaker is calling a “New Era” launching an entire lineup of vehicles at one auto show. A total of five new models graced the Lotus stand, including the new Esprit, a second-generation Elise, the flagship Elite and even a 4-door model called Eterne. Details were scarce, but Kevin Smith, head of publications for Lotus Cars USA has shed some light on each of the five models.
Smith says the automaker is confident it will bring all five models to market, based on the same versatile vehicle architecture used for the current Evora and with a funding commitment from Lotus parent company Proton.
First to market will be the Esprit, with an on-sale date set for the Spring of 2013. With a body made entirely of carbon fiber it will be a true exotic, using a supercharged version of the Lexus 5.0-liter V8 making 542-hp in standard trim and a whopping 612-hp in R-spec trim. As Lotus Cars CEO Dany Bahar said at the introduction of the Esprit concept, “The icon is back.”
Following the Esprit will be the Elan, launching in the Fall of 2013 as a coupe, with a convertible model set to follow. As a competitor to the Porsche 911, Smith guarantees it will be a true rival. Using a 4.0-liter version of the Toyota-sourced V6 found in the Evora, the Elan will be 200-lbs lighter. An R-Spec model will also be offered, boasting 450-hp. Both it, and the Elise, will use a combination of aluminum and composite materials to keep weight to a minimum. In addition, Lotus will offer both the Esprit and the Elan as a hybird.
The flagship for the new Lotus will follow six months later in the Spring of 2014, with a standard trim making 612-hp. A hybrid option will be offered and this grand touring exotic comes exclusively with a retractable hardtop.
Spring of 2015 will see the launch of the second-generation Lotus Elise. Gaining size and weight over the current car the new Elise will come in at between 2,300 and 2,400 lbs and Smith promises will be easier to get into than even the new Evora model. Power will come from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with forced induction (either a turbocharger or supercharger), making a total of 316-hp. That should be enough to deliver a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. Plus, those in search of a fuel efficient sports car will be able to get it with the new Elise as Lotus also plans to offer a hybrid option. Unlike the rest of the hybrids in the Lotus lineup, the Elise will be a mild hybrid (like the Honda system) and feature start-stop technology. And while Lotus looks to expand and grow as an automaker, it also wants to retain its core customers with the next gen Elise, with Bahar commenting at the Lotus press conference that it would retain its, “cheaky charm.”
Completing the new Lotus lineup is the Eterne 4-door sports sedan. Again, based on the same architecture, its designed as a rival to the likes of the Porsche Panamera and Maserati Quattroporte, but wont hit the market until the Fall of 2015.
In addition to these, Lotus is also considering a city car, but that is very much up-in-the-air at this point says Smith. The goal with the five concepts shown is to expand Lotus production and sell between 7,500 and 8,000 vehicles annually.
Often production models don’t live up to the hype of the concepts, but Smith reassured us that the models on display in Paris are 90 to 95 percent representative of the planned road cars.