Looking back on this year’s Paris Auto Show, Lotus stood out as the manufacturer “most likely to throw away all their working capital building concept cars”. Worse, these concepts took the boutique automaker into some stratospheric pricing and seemed to ignore the basic premise of Colin Chapman’s genius. Instead of “adding lightness”, the five cars shown by Lotus in Paris seemed to add luxury and gadgetry, at the expense of lightness and performance. Even the styling of the concept cars was controversial, taking Lotus in an entirely new, Lamborghini influenced direction.
Autoblog is reporting that Lotus may not be working on all five concepts after all. Instead, they quote Autocar’s sources at Lotus, who say the Esprit is the only Paris concept actually undergoing engineering work at the moment. The rebirth of Lotus’ halo car is penciled in for its reappearance in 2013, which doesn’t give the boys from Hethel a whole lot of time to design and build a car from the ground up.
As spec’d at Paris, the next Lotus Esprit will make 550 horsepower from a supercharged V8 motor and should weigh in at around 3,300 pounds. That’s not exactly what I’d call light, but you can’t get around modern requirements for safety structures and systems, and even extensive use of carbon fiber or aluminum can only save so much weight. Lotus’ goal is to increase sales from less than 3,000 units per year to around 7,000 units per year, and the Esprit is seen as critical to achieving that goal. I’m not sure I agree with them, as the projected price for the new Esprit is around $175,000. Sure, it gives them a range topping sports car, but I don’t know too many buyers who can write a check for that amount of money. It makes me wonder if the days of affordable Lotus automobiles will once again be behind us.