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Lotus has just announced the appointment of Donato Coco as the company’s Director of Design in what seems like the latest step in transforming Lotus into Ferrari. Coco, you see, comes with an excellent record of employment, which includes a stint at Ferrari as the Italian automaker’s Director of Design and Development, where he worked on a few minor hugely important models like the California, 599XX, 458 Italia, F430 Scuderia and the Spider 16M. Previous to Ferrari, Coco started his career at Citroën where he rose to the top spot in the French automaker’s design department.
Lotus CEO Danny Bahar, himself a recent hire after running Ferrari’s marketing division, said that, “The appointment of Donato Coco as the new Director of Design for Lotus puts even more prominence on design within Lotus and strengthens the already talented team. We have a very busy few years ahead of us as we are working on a new strategic business plan which will include the introduction of an all new range of Lotus cars and expansion of our third party design work.”
The current head of Lotus Design, Russell Carr, will continue on in his current position, working on both in-house Lotus projects as well as ones for outside parties.
Coco will work with Carr to design new Lotus vehicles like the upcoming Esprit flagship, as well as eventual replacements for the Elise and Exige.
Along with these hires, Lotus has made known its plans to emulate Ferrari’s success story by creating a strong bond between its road and street cars. Along with joining Formula 1 and announcing a race car version of the Evora, Lotus is also rumored to be considering entries into the Indy Racing League and American Le Mans Series. Should we also expect the British sports car maker to follow the Ferrari marketing philosophy and start selling its name to go on everything from laptops to lingerie?
Official release after the jump:
Lotus fans can rejoice as the automaker has now officially confirmed that the Esprit project will go ahead. This halo car will be a part the company’s upcoming seven year plan, that will be laid out by new CEO Dany Bahar in the upcoming weeks.
The car isn’t actually likely to get the Esprit name, but that is what Lotus is referring to it internally as. Previous reports have suggested that it would use an elongated version of the Evora’s Versatile Vehicle Architecture (VVA) platform, with the potential to use either the 5.0-liter V8 in the Lexus IS-F or the 4.8-liter V8 in the LFA. The use of a Toyota motor only makes sense, as the Elise and Exige are powered by a Toyota-sourced 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, while the Evora uses a 3.5-liter V6 from the Toyota Camry. An inside source at Lotus was quoted by the U.K.’s AutoCar statign that the new Esprit would be, “the ultimate exression of the brand.”
With all the uncertainties, one this is for sure: if we know Lotus, the car will be extremely light weight and an absolute hoot to drive.
The upcoming Lotus Esprit may be powered by a 500hp Lexus V10 according to a report in the U.K.’s EVO magazine. Lotus has a long time partnership with Lexus parent company Toyota, using its Celica-sourced 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine for the Elise and Exige, as well as its the Camry-sourced 3.5-liter V6 for the Evora. According to EVO this relationship extends not just to the Toyota powertrain department but also to the Lexus division – and Lexus just so happens to be readying its LF-A exotic with a 500 horse V10. There is also the possibility that the IS-F’s 417hp 5.0-liter V8 could be an option, as well as an entry-level 300hp direct-injection V6 motor.
The new Evora platform, which is to be the basis for the Esprit’s chassis, is capable of holding engines in either a transverse or longitudinal layout – giving more credence to the possibility that several different engines could be made available to buyers.
Lotus doesn’t plan to bring the Esprit to market until 2012, but it is dedicated to delivering a true exotic capable of taking on the Lamborghinis and Ferraris of the world.
There is also a strong possibility that Lotus could offer the Esprit with an electric powertrain.
The design sketch, above, gives a hint at what the upcoming Lotus Esprit may look like.