Lotus is planning the “spiritual successor” to the iconic Esprit, according to reports.
Whether or not the new model, set to launch in 2021, will carry the Esprit name is unclear but Autocar has reported that it will feature a newly designed V6 hybrid powertrain, while taking some cues from the Evija hypercar that is coming in the summer.
Reports suggest that the price point will be set in the low six figures, and will compete with current Ferrari models.
The Norfolk car maker currently has three models available: the entry-level Elise, which has been in production for nearly 25 years; the slightly more hardcore Exige, which has been in production for a similarly lengthy 20 years; and the Lotus Evora, the company’s version of a Grand Tourer, which first came out in 2008.
Lotus’ lineup, therefore, was increasingly looking like the Italian 2006 World Cup winners; skilful and good to watch, but greying all the same.
Then, however, Lotus got a new manager. Geely Group, which had a track record changing the fortunes of Volvo, came in 2017 with money, and as importantly, ambition.
In 2019, it made this ambition clear with the reveal of the Evija, a completely electric hypercar. It’s priced at a smidge over £2m and the production run for this year sold out before the cars were even completed. Admittedly, the total production run will only reach 130 cars, and Lotus hasn’t said how many of those will be produced this year.
Buyers will get a lot for their money — Lotus says it’s the most powerful production car ever produced, promising an absolutely staggering 1,973bhp.
The new model will bridge the chasm between the stats of the Evora and the Evija, before an entirely new architecture comes into effect from 2021. The new, rivet-bonded platform will replace the currently available aluminium structure used in the Evora. The new architecture is said to be forming the basis of a new Elan, which will no doubt excite Lotus fans.
Autocar reported last year that the new Elan would be positioned above the Elise as a competitor to the Porsche Boxster. A long whispered-about SUV could also be in the works.
Autocar also reported that the last car using the Evora platform would be unveiled late this year, but have now updated the timeframe to early 2021.
Lotus says that it wants to start electrifying more of its cars going forward, so it will be interesting to see how it adheres to its famous “simplify and add lightness” mantra in a format difficult to achieve without significant weight additions and without alienating its customers with jaw-dropping price tags.
The Esprit garnered Lotus fame outside of the car world in the 1970s and 80s, when versions of the model appeared in the 1977 James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only (1981), famously transforming into a submarine in the former.
The aquatic version of the Esprit was purchased by Elon Musk in 2013, with the enigmatic Tesla founder pledging to give the car the ability to transform for real using Tesla technology. His purchase reportedly inspired the radical design of the Tesla Cybertruck.
Lotus has made efforts to revive the Esprit, a legendary wedge car made between 1976 and 2004, before. At the 2010 Paris Motor Show, it revealed a concept Esprit, planned to have a 5-litre engine made by Lotus itself.
Financial difficulties led to the concept not making it to production. Times, however, have changed for Lotus. Now under Geely, its prospects for expansion are better. Whether or not the Hethel company decides to brand the car with the Esprit moniker, if it’s anything like it in spirit then Lotus lovers have good reason to get excited.