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Lotus explosion: Elise, Esprit, Elan, Elite & Eterne (2010)

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 00:00:00 -0700

It’s only a few days since Lotus shocked us with details of the all-new Lotus Elite – a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 GT with a folding hardtop, the engine up front, and all-aluminium construction.

Now, at the 2010 Paris motor show, the Norfolk firm is unveiling four more cars: Elise, Elan, Esprit and Eterne.

On sale in 2015, the Elise is furthest from production, but we already know it will be a radical shift from today’s car. Yes, it’s still rear-wheel drive, still mid-engined, and the chassis will be based on a development of the VVA architecture that underpins the current Evora. But the body will be a combination of fixed composite body panels and aluminium closures, there’ll be an optional robotised manual gearbox (in fact, the Elise is the only future Lotus to get the option of a manual transmission) and the 2.0-litre four pot engine will be either turbo- or supercharged to 300bhp – good for 4.5sec runs to 62mph. The £34k price tag will put it bang in the Porsche Boxster’s bull’s eye.

Next up the range is the Elan. This is effectively a replacement for today’s Evora – a mid-engined V6 with an optional 2+2 seating layout – and arrives in 2013 priced £75k. That’s a big leap from today’s Evora, hence, no doubt, the decision not to recycle the same name. Going head-to-head with the 911 Carrera S, it will have its work cut out, but a heavily reworked and supercharged version of the Evora’s V6 will yield 400bhp and 450bhp power outputs and a 3.5-3.9sec 0-62mph dash. More impressively, this all-aluminium sports car should be less polluting than the Evora, with a C02 target below 200g/km. An optional KERS hybrid system will also be offered, while the Elan will debut the seven-speed dual-clutch auto that’ll come as standard on all models bar the Elise.

We’ve been catching the Esprit supercar testing for aeons now, but here’s a first official glimpse, one that confirms our Gallardo-inspired renderings were on the money. The Esprit lands in 2013, will cost around £110k, and marks the production debut of the Lexus ISF-derived 5.0-litre supercharged V8 we first heard about in the forthcoming Elite. With 550bhp (or 620bhp in R tune) it promises to be a riot, and it’s composite body panels and aluminium closures help it to tip the scales at a relatively lithe 1495kg before fluids. Result? 0-62mph in a whisker over 3sec. Watch your back, Ferrari.

From here it goes slightly bonkers with the Elite and Eterne. The Elite is a 2+2 folding hard-top (£115k, on sale 2014) with the same 5.0-litre supercharged V8 as the Esprit, but the KERS hybrid system will come as standard, and be a lot different to the ones offered in Hethel’s mid-engined future cars: here the lithium ion battery is in the boot (not mounted low in the transmission tunnel), and there’ll be a fully integrated epicyclic transmission. The constant power flow this creates means entirely seamless gear changes, and a 40% reduction in C02: the target is 215g/km.

The Eterne is essentially the same as the Elite underneath, but it’s a Porsche Panamera rival on top: a four-door, four-seat supercar. You’ll see it in 2015.

Finally, there’s distant murmurings of a Lotus City Car. It may appear in 2014, if it appears at all. Billed as a Smart rival, it would be sold as either a fully electric car, or an electric car with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder range extender engine to power up the electric motor – not to drive the wheels – when it runs out of juice, just like the Chevy Volt.

On sale: 2015
Price: £34k (est)
Engine: 2.0-litre 16v four-cylinder turbo or supercharged, 300bhp (350bhp R)
Transmission: Six-speed manual or automated manual, rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Double wishbones all round, continuously variable dampers
Length/width/height in mm: 4000/1850/1250mm
Bodystyles: Coupe and convertible
Performance: Sub 4.5sec 0-62mph, sub-150g/km
Weight/made from: 1095kg dry/composite body sides, aluminium closures

On sale: 2013
Price: £75k (est)
Engine: 3956cc 24v supercharged V6, 400bhp (450bhp R), plus optional KERS hybrid system
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Double wishbones all round, continuously variable dampers
Length/width/height in mm: 4450/1900/1280
Bodystyles: Coupe and convertible, plus optional 2+2 seating
Performance 3.5-3.9sec 0-62mph, sub-200g/km
Weight/made from: 1295kg dry/aluminium

On sale: 2013
Price: £110 (est)
Engine: 4969 32v supercharged V8, 550bhp (620bhp R) @ 8000rpm (approx), plus optional KERS system
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Double wishbones all round, continuously variable dampers
Length/width/height in mm: 4550/1950/1250
Bodystyles: Coupe and convertible
Performance: 3.2-3.5sec 0-62mph, 250g/km
Weight/made from: 1495kg dry/carbon fixed panels, aluminium closures

On sale: 2014
Price: £115
Engine: 4969 32v supercharged V8, 550bhp (620bhp R) @ 8000rpm (approx), plus standard KERS hybrid system
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with integrated epicyclic hybrid transmission, rear-wheel drive
Suspension: Double wishbones all round, continuously variable dampers
Length/width/height in mm: 4600/1900/1320
Bodystyles: Folding hardtop 2+2
Performance: 3.5-3.7sec 0-62mph, 215g/km
Weight/made from: 1680kg dry/aluminium (TBC)

On sale: 2015
Price: £120k
Engine: 4969 32v supercharged V8, 550bhp (620bhp R) @ 8000rpm (approx), plus standard KERS hybrid system
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox with integrated epicyclic hybrid transmission, rear-wheel drive
Suspension Double wishbones all round, continuously variable dampers
Length/width/height in mm: 5000/1900/1430mm
Bodystyles: Four-door saloon
Performance: 4sec 0-62mph, 215g/km
Weight/made: from 1850kg dry/aluminium


By Ben Barry