Hold your horses
Lotus takes on Ferrari with the powerful Elite, writes Paul Gover
THE car that will launch Lotus into battle with Ferrari is finally unveiled today. It’s the Elite, a long-overdue successor to the Esprit, that promises true supercar performance with a price in the $300,000-plus range.
The car is a front-engined 2+2 coupe that is also being developed as a hardtop convertible. Deliveries are not expected until 2014. The Elite was designed and developed by the team of former Ferrari staff who now control Lotus, led by managing director Dany Bahar.
It’s a massive step up from the road racer Elise and part of a plan to turn Lotus into a superluxury brand to rival Ferrari and Lamborghini.
‘‘There will always be those who believe that Lotus should stick to small sports cars, but we didn’t take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly. It’s based on months of careful research and planning,’’ Bahar says.
‘‘Make no mistake, there’s a definite market requirement for the Elite — it’s the ultimate sports car-feel with comfort and space.’’
The Elite is expected to be followed by at least two other new models.
Lotus is not going fully public with details on the car until the first day of the Paris Motor Show but has released some teaser information.
‘‘ There’s no denying that the Elite is breathtakingly beautiful to look at, but it’s so much more than that,’’ Bahar says.
‘‘It’s a car that over-delivers in all other aspects as well.
‘‘One could say it’s a car of perfect contradictions. It’s compact yet spacious, high-performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid.’’
The car has a 5-litre V8 engine — perhaps from Lexus — with 450kW and 720Nm, good enough for a top speed of 315km/h and a 0-100km/h sprint time below four seconds.
There’s also a model with an optional hybrid system, using a Formula One-style Kinetic Energy Recovery System.