Hans Lehmann's photogs claim to have snapped the first full prototype of the new Lotus Esprit - known inside Lotus as the "MSC" (for mid-engined supercar). With the production version not scheduled to debut until late 2008, it's unlikely that there is much to be learned from the transformer-like bodywork in the photos, but the fact that there's a functional prototype, presumably embodying the Esprit's all-new aluminum structure and the basic suspension and drivetrain elements, at least indicates that the highly publicized project is on schedule.

That's good news for Lotus, as the new Esprit platform is expected to be the foundation for other models, likely including a smaller 6-cylinder sportscar. The Esprit is intended to be Lotus' performance flagship, going head-to-head with Ferrari's F430, and is expected to have a powerplant equal to the task, rumored to be a 4.8-liter BMW-sourced V8.

Follow the link for more photos.

[Source: WorldCarFans.com]

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