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Paris show: Lotus unveils six new superheroes

Cop that: The Lotus Esprit led a charge of six new Lotus models at Paris.

Lotus stuns the auto world with six new models that will take it into a new era

1 Oct 2010

JUST as Jaguar turned this week’s Paris motor show into a ‘best-of-British’ celebration with its awesome C-X75 supercar, Lotus also left no one in doubt that it was a force to be reckoned with, stunning the automotive world with no fewer than six new models that will revolutionise the brand and take it roaring into the mainstream.

Twelve months after Dany Bahar took the reins of the Proton-owned British sportscar marque, the former Ferrari executive and his new management team did far more than show some expected model upgrades and slide the covers off the stunning front-engined four-seater V8 Elite coupe it unveiled two weeks ago.

As it turned out, and as some esoteric teaser material Lotus released almost three months ago suggested it might, the Elite was just one of a series of exceptional new models – all encompassing founder Colin Chapman’s purist engineering principles – in the massive Bahar-led new product program laid out in full on the Paris Expo floor.

As well as the Elite, the models include a new-generation Elise and Elan, the Elite-based Eterne sedan, a new city car co-developed with Proton and, at the other end of the scale, an all-new Esprit flagship – a model that Lotus, prior to the show, hinted would return to Paris precisely 35 years after the original Giugiaro-designed concept was unveiled in 1975.

To be released in 2013 and priced in the UK from around £110,000 ($A179,000), the low, wide and aggressive two-seater mid-engined Esprit will be powered by a Lotus-supercharged and Lexus-sourced 5.0-litre V8 revving to 8500rpm and producing 456kW of power and 720Nm of torque.

57 center imageFrom top: Lotus Elan, Lotus Elise, Lotus Eterne, Lotus Elite, Lotus City Car concept.

Tipping the scales at 1450kg and driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed DCT gearbox, the new Esprit will blast from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds on its way to a 330km/h top speed.

Fitted with the optional Lotus-developed Formula One-style KERS energy regeneration system, the Esprit is also claimed to emit 250g/km of CO2 – which is relatively low for the supercar class.

Said Bahar: “In the past when people thought of the Esprit, they thought of the movies – Bond, Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct – but this time around, the car is the star of the show.

“There’s a fine balance between acknowledging the greatness of the past whilst rapidly leaping forward to the future and ensuring that this car not only does the name Esprit justice but also the Lotus brand.

“I think we’ve managed to find the balance and in doing so created a new icon, a car people will find hard to resist. The design is aggressive you have to see it to appreciate how low and wide the proportions are but it still retains a level of dignity, of class and most of all exclusivity.”

Also due in 2013 and to be priced from around £75,000 ($A121,800), the mid-engined 1295kg Elan will take on the Porsche 911 and offer equally impressive performance with a 331kW/465Nm 4.0-litre version of the Evora’s transverse V6 that will rev to 7800rpm, offer 0-100km/h acceleration in 3.5 seconds and a 310km/h top speed.

Driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed DCT, the Elan, too, will be available with KERS, which will see CO2 as low as 199g/km, while a 2+2 option will be offered over the standard two-seat configuration.

Due for release early in 2015 with a price of around £35,000 ($A56,780), the new-generation entry-level Elise sportscar has an impressive new look, is slightly longer than the current model and has been overhauled with higher levels of practicability (particularly ingress/egress) and technology, including engine idle-stop.

The lightweight (1095kg) two-seater Elise will be available in both coupe and roadster form and continues with an extruded aluminium-bonded chassis and a Toyota-sourced engine – a supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit offering 235kW and 330Nm, and revving to 7800rpm.

It will drive the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox – DCT will be optional – and will reach 100km/h from standstill in 4.3 seconds. Top speed is listed at 270km/h, while CO2 emissions are rated at 150g/km.

While we had already seen the shark-like Elite coupe, the stunning four-door sedan iteration – the Eterne – was a complete surprise which Mr Bahar insisted was “not an evolution of an existing two-door model (but) a deliberate and standalone creation”.

To be priced from around £120,000 ($A194,600) and due for release in 2015 – the year after the £115,000 ($A186,700) Elite reaches the market – the Eterne offers the same blend of performance and technology with a Lotus-supercharged and, again, Lexus-sourced (LS600h) 5.0-litre V8 engine and twin electric motor hybrid system, driving the rear wheels though a ‘full hybrid’ transmission (also with KERS) and offering 456kW/720Nm.

It, too, will rev to 8500rpm but with the bigger Eterne packing slightly more weight (1800kg, compared with 1650kg for Elite), the four-door will reach 100km/h in a claimed 4.0 seconds (Elite: 3.7), on its way to a 315km/h maximum speed. CO2 emissions are rated at 220g/km (Elite: 215).

Interestingly, AWD will be optionally available on the four-seater Eterne but, at this stage, will not be offered on the Elite.

The City Car concept, meanwhile, is based on the Proton Emas family of small urban vehicles that were unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March and featured a Lotus-engineered range-extending plug-hybrid powertrain.

If green-lighted for production, the City Car would reach the market in 2014 priced from around £20,000 ($A32,450).

The Emas concepts combined a 38kW/107Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with a rear-mounted 75kW/240Nm electric motor, driving the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission with an integrated differential.

The Emas three-door hatch carried claims of 0-100km/h acceleration in 14 seconds and a top speed of 170km/h – figures the Lotus version would be sure to improve markedly on. The driving range of the Emas hatch in full-electric mode was said to be 50km.

“Lotus Design has created a vehicle that condenses the essence of Lotus into a low-carbon city car, with many inspired design touches,” Mr Bahar said.

“As you would expect from Lotus, the City Car concept is an exquisitely designed, highly efficient vehicle with class-leading performance – in this concept car, Lotus Design and Lotus Engineering have provided the perfect solution for life in the contemporary city environment.”

As previously reported, Lotus also used the Paris show to unveil a 257kW supercharged ‘S’ version of its 3.5-litre Toyota V6-powered Evora coupe, as well as six-speed automatic transmission option dubbed the IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift).

Both the Evora S and the IPS are expected to arrive in Australia late this year, or early in 2011.

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