Not the shape of Lotus things to come? – Click above for high-res image gallery
Yesterday Lotus did something rather... odd. The Malasian-owned British sports car maker sent the entire automotive world a high-res picture of Stonehenge and announced it represented the, "Dawn of a new era." We initially interpreted this to mean that the new Lotus Esprit would show up in Paris. We still think we're right about that part, but Lotus might have been letting a little bit more cat out of bag than they intended.
According to a report from Malaysia, Lotus owner Proton has hired a plethora of ex-Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin employees (including Frank Tuch, the former Director of Quality Management at Porsche) in hopes of transforming the brand away from Toyota-engined track day novelties (hello, Exige!) into a full-fledged Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin fighting luxury, high-performance brand. Of course that entails abandoning Colin Chapman's maxim, "Simplify, then add lightness," in favor of the German mandate to, "Complexify, then add steel." If you think the Italians are any better, realize that every new Ferrari ships with eighteen miles of wiring. But look on the bright side, the new cars (which will have some sort of hybrid-ness cooked in) could draw power from Chapman spinning his grave.
As we speculated yesterday, the new Esprit will need something resembling a V8 engine (at least) to not only fill the shoes of the old, long-loved Esprit, but also to compete with the world's best luxury/performance machers. Luckily for both Lotus and Lotus fans, engine-supplier Toyota has just such a motor in the form of the IS F's 416 horsepower, 371 pound-feet or torque 5.0-liter V8. Of course, if you want to play in the stratosphere with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and/or Aston Martin these days, you're going to need at least 500 horsepower. But where would Lotus get an engine like that?
According to the report, the Lexus LFA's 552 hp, 9,000 rpm 4.8-liter V10 could be made available for Esprit duty, though it might be slightly detuned. Still, an aluminum and composite V10 is an aluminum and composite V10. While that might sound odd at first blush, Toyota (no doubt) spent a sick amount of yen coming up with the LFA's V10, but they're only building 500 (or so) LFAs. So why not recoup the pricey development costs elsewhere? Like say in a Lotus range-topper? The question then becomes: Does the world want a 500+ horsepower Lotus dolled up with enough electronic whizbangery to compete with Europe's finest? Only time and the marketplace will tell.
Related GalleryTokyo 2009: 2010 Lotus Exige Scura
[Source: Paul Tan]