Lotus Steals the Show in Paris with Five New Concepts
A major international auto show like the one currently under way at the Port de Versailles in Paris is typically flush with exciting new debuts and concept cars to delight the senses. Some of them we know about in advance, while others come as a bit of a surprise. But Lotus caught the world completely off-guard at this year's salon by unveiling not one, not two, but five new vehicles. Each is styled around a common design ethos, and points the way forward for the British sportscar-maker. Follow the jump to see what they had in store for us.
The first of the new debuts we actually knew about ahead of time, but the rest came as a bit of a surprise, especially all five at once. The Elite coupe kicks things up a notch with a 2+2 hard-top convertible body-style (similar to that of the Ferrari California, for example) and a 611-horsepower, 5-liter V8 engine sourced from the Lexus IS F.
Next up is the Esprit, a supercar that draws its inspiration from the original immortalized in a series of James Bond films. This model places the supercharged V8 amidship, behind the cabin, and is said to be capable of reaching 60 from a standstill in less than 3.5 seconds. Like the others, the Esprit will have an optional hybrid drivetrain in the form of a regenerative braking system when it hits the market around 2013.
Joining the Elite and Esprit concepts on the Lotus show stand in Paris is the company's vision for the next-generation Elise. Considerably smaller, lighter and more compact than the others the Elise would replace the current model of the same name – credited with saving Lotus and returning it to its true self – with a turbocharged 2-liter four with 320 horsepower. That may not seem like much in comparison to the V8-powered big boys, but with just 2,409 lbs of weight to deal with, 60 should come in just 4.3 seconds with an anticipated list price of $55,000.
Bridging the gap between the Elise on the one hand and the Esprit and Elite on the other is the Elan, packing a supercharged 4-liter V6 and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (also sourced from Toyota). The track-ready Elan should come in around $118,500, target the Porsche 911 and offer the same regenerative braking system as its stablemates.
The biggest surprise of them all, however, is the Eterne. Not a two-door sportscar like the rest, the Eterne is a hybrid sedan aimed at the likes of the Porsche Panamera and Aston Martin Rapide. The same 600+ horsepower 5-liter V8 and hybrid system applies itself here to a body-style which Lotus hasn't toyed with since the cult-classic Cortina, anticipated to reach the market a couple of years after the others in 2015 with a $190k list price.
The big picture painted by these five show cars – themselves a preview of what Lotus plans to produce in the coming years – is not just of five individual vehicles, but a complete revitalization of the brand and what it has to offer.