The New Era of Lotus Exposed

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

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.

Colum Wood
Colum Wood

With AutoGuide from its launch, Colum previously acted as Editor-in-Chief of Modified Luxury & Exotics magazine where he became a certifiable car snob driving supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and racing down the autobahn in anything over 500 hp. Find Colum on <a href="">Twitter.</a>

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  • Johnyonthespot Johnyonthespot on Nov 09, 2010

    This is truly heartbreaking, one of the last automakers with true integrity is selling out. Lotus was one of the, if not the only, last automakers I truly respected and idolized. They have now sunk down to making these cars that look like they came out of a bad remake of Total Recall just like all these other big budget sad saps. Not to mention bigger, heavier and filled with none-sense we don't need. Very big sad face at lotus :(

  • RichardT RichardT on Jun 14, 2011

    This is not a question of integrity , but innovation and survival . I'm a motor vehicle dealer and progress is measured by the consumer . Change is a must for Lotus . I own a 2008 Elise SC and love the car . BUT if more practicality is built into it , it will appeal to more people . I too love the old days , as we all do . Live long Lotus .