• Nov 24th 2010 at 2:57PM
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' gave us an in-depth look at both what the company wishes to become and how the cars it builds will drive them there. In our previous installment we looked at the Lotus Group as a whole. Here we'll break down the vehicles Lotus hopes will make it a global success and discuss the two cars that are conspicuously absent from Lotus' next great renaissance. Follow the jump to find out what they are and how Lotus' line-up is set to undergo a massive evolution.

Whither the Exige and Evora?

Lotus plans to have a full range of product from 2015 onwards, but two of the cars – the much-loved Exige and recently introduced Evora – haven't featured at all in the 2015 spotlight. With talk of Lotus' enthusiast audience painting the automaker into a corner we wondered if these other E-cars might be left to wither.

"It would be wrong to abandon the Lotus customer," said CEO Dany Bahar. "There will always be an Elise and Exige for that Lotus customer, and the Evora will always have its place."

The company is working on a new Exige and hopes "to have something to announce soon." There are two life cycles planned for the Evora at three-year intervals, as well as different variants, so the horizon for that coupe extends to about nine years out.

The New Lineup

The Design

In terms of size, the five new cars run from smallest to largest in this order: Elise, Elan, Esprit, Elite, Eterne. Their exterior design is where the company started, attempting to create a new corporate face for Lotus that carries the company's aspirations and wedges their way into the wallets of sports car and supercar buyers.

Lotus design chief Donato Coco made the move from being Ferrari's design head and before that he had a two-decade tenure at Citroën.

He said the question of a new direction was, "What were we going to do with Lotus, that had been living for the last 20 years with products that have not really evolved?"

His team sketched out ways to give the brand's designs "more strengths" while maintaining Lotus' traditional values. They took inspiration from and the 2D grille opening of the old Lotus Elite, which still lives in the face of the current Elise, and the 3D graphic of the shovel nose of the 1972 JPS F1 car that Emerson Fittipaldi drove, which Donato said inspired the original Esprit.

In back are slightly different treatments on the horizontal containing the quasi-floating taillights, and variations of bold diffuser designs.

After that they had to go big, since going home wasn't an option. In design-speak the growth was to "change size perception to gain dignity, authority on the road," and yet "remain light and compact."

The new Esprit, for example, is seven inches longer, four inches wider, and three inches higher than the model that disappeared in 2004. The coming Elise is almost nine inches longer and 3.2 inches taller than the vehicle currently on sale.

The cockpits will be tailored to the intentions of each car in form, texture and material, from the highly mechanical look of the Elise's long dogleg gearshift lever that juts between two floating center console spars, to the Esprit's patterned cloth, carbon fiber and aluminum laced mission-control ambiance.

Lotus also plans to lead the way in in-car interaction. The dash cluster is 12-inch screen that is left whole or broken up into sections depending on the application. In the Esprit, for example, there are three pods, the one on the left being entertainment, the center displaying tach, speedo and warning lights, the right hosting navigation. The screens will be configurable for driver preference.

The HVAC controls for the dual climate zones are mounted on each door, while the center console is lorded over by a huge red button to start the engine, beneath which is a pad with a few directional keys. Control of the car's major functions is managed by the buttons on the steering wheel, the few buttons on the IP to the right of the dash cluster, like ESP, and the directional keys on the console.

Only the design of the Esprit has been set, since it will be out first and rather soon. The other cars, both outside and inside, could evolve based on events over the next five years.

The Engineering
When Lotus Chief Technical Officer Wolf Zimmerman asked, "What is a Lotus?" the elongated answer plastered across his presentation slide was: a lightweight structure for an extreme power-to-weight ratio with high performance, high efficiency engines, hybrid technology and double-clutch transmission technology providing two-pedal solutions for driving dynamics, and fully integrated car and information control systems. That DCT will be a seven-speed unit.

The Lotus frame is fastened with structural bonding, and body panels will be carbon fiber except for closures like doors and hood, and where sharp angles best achieved with aluminum superforming are needed.

Zimmerman wouldn't be drawn out on the hybrid solution Lotus is developing, other than to call it "innovative." It uses batteries that will be mounted in the trunk, and in the case of the Elite he said it provides a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to its non-hybrid equivalent.

Suspensions will be feature computer-controlled variable-rate dampers, and stopping power can be provided by optional ceramic disc brakes.

The Cars
The range represents five well defined entries with which sports car buyers can experience the brand, from the £35,000 Elise to the £120,000 Eterne. Of the five brand new cars the 316-horsepower, 2,409-pound Elise is the only one to claim a six-speed manual. The Exige and Evora will live in the price gap from the Elise to the £75,000 Elan, while the £110,000 Esprit occupies the middle ground as far as price is concerned, but at 3,190 pounds and 612 hp it is the quickest of them all with a 3.2-second run to 62 miles per hour. Get the details on each below.

Mid-engined - 2,409 pounds - Four-cylinder - 316 horsepower - 244 pound-feet - mild hybrid (stop start)
Six-speed manual - 0-to-62 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds - 168-mile-per-hour top speed
£35,000 on-the-road - Production in early 2014

We got the feeling that the Elise was the hardest car to deal with, Bahar saying "The Elise has a bit of a wide space to fill. This new one is 20 centimeters longer, and it still has to outperform today's Elise. Big OEM's are getting into this segment, so the car should slide into a wider segment, and be more feminine."

The feminine bit is meant to be especially noted with the interior, which remains mechanical in look but is softened up by veneer and materials treatments, "technical but more suggestive of lightness and sportivity."

Mid-engined - 2,849-pound convertible - 4.0-liter V6 - 444 hp - 343 lb-ft
Seven-speed DCT - 0-to-62 mph in 3.5 seconds - 193-mph top speed - CO2 emissions of 215 g/km
£75,000 on-the-road - Production starts Summer 2013

Described as a two-seater with best-in-class performance and superior dynamics and versatility. Design inspiration said to be from Mario Andretti's 1979 Lotus F1 car, "particularly the concave section in the rear to suggest that there were just the essential bits of the car to protect the occupant and make the car work." Has an Esprit-like cockpit with a bit less sophistication.

Mid-engined - 3,190 pounds - 5.0-liter V8 - 612 hp - 531 lb-ft
0-to-62 mph in 3.2 seconds - 205-mph top speed - Optional KERS system - CO2 emissions of 250 g/km
Convertible option - £110,000 on-the-road - Production to begin end of 2012

Front-engined - 3,630 pounds - 5.0-liter V8 - 612 hp - 531 lb-ft
0-to-62 mph in 3.7 seconds - Hybrid transmission with epicyclic hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors - 215 g/km
£115,000 on-the-road - Production in early 2014

A 2+2 GT coupe with retractable hardtop, this one was also qualified as a difficult effort. Coco said, "Doing such a car for Lotus you have to be very careful. Your competitors have reached a very high level, and this seems to be a rupture for the Lotus brand but the 2+2 has been a part of Lotus history. The car had to look different than a DB9, 599 or California, and a Jaguar."

The interior has a cockpit treatment for the driver that practically closes him in, and which we'll probably see more of – "I believe that with this car we have reached a personality that belongs to Lotus."

Front-engined - 3,960 pounds - 5.0-liter V8 - 8,500 RPM redline - 612 hp - 531 lb-ft
0-to-62 mph in four seconds - Five meters long (16.4 feet) and five doors
Hybrid transmission with an epicyclic hybrid gearbox with integrated electric motors
£120,000 on-the-road - Production in early 2015

A "four-door super saloon" to take on the Panamera and Rapide – "We just tried to make the best thesis between those two products" – that appeared quite late in the planning and so is still being fleshed out.

The Joker
Lotus didn't offer any details, but below the Elise the company has a city car concept in mind that is still purely a concept. The company has yet to make a production decision.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like that City Car concept, if Lotus put in a small turbocharged engine similar to a Fiat Multiair system it could be a good competitor to the 500 Aberth.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Although all these cars are undoubtedly awesome, it's still kind of sad to see the Elise change so dramatically, abandoning its roots. I guess it was probably a smart business decision to broaden the market appeal by making the Elise bigger, heavier, and softer, but many Lotus fans, myself included, appreciated the minimalism of the outgoing Elise/Exige.

      Yes, I know the new model will technically out-perform the current one, but the pure, simple, razor's edge driving experience, unobstructed by electronic complexity, will be missed by many enthusiasts.

      Lotus may gain more customers, but they will lose the most loyal.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with your thoughts, but I think it's best to wait to see what Lotus has in store after the new Elise is released. I realize 400 pounds is quite a bit of weight to add, but as long as it feels as edgy and raw, I don't think I'd mind, especially if it's faster.

        They definitely have the capability to make it just as good if not better.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with you all, bottom line is Lotus has been financially on the edge for years now and ultimately needed to either go big or go home.. and I'm glad those chose the former. All of these cars are attractive and competitive and do a great job of giving a face to the future of the brand. Did the Elise gain significant weight? Yes. Is it still extremely light and gain a lot (looks, quality materials, power, efficiency, buyers, handling?) over the outgoing Elise? Yes. In the end that's all that matters.

        Like Lotus said, they aren't abandoning their roots, their going back to their roots that have been forgotten. And as much as I enjoy seeing the bare bones Elise/Exige tear up the tracks, the news ones will be equally, if not more, impressive. I'm sure they've gone to great lengths to keep the weight down as much as possible, they didn't just forget about it.

        If you don't like the future of the Elise, buy a new one in the current model in the next couple of years or buy a used one later, there will be plenty of them. I for one would rather see this new lineup built than for Lotus to cease to exist due to its current business plan.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope Colin Chapman's ghost could come back from the grave and kick them in the nuts for designing these pachydermic Ferrari wannabes, they strayed too far from Lotus's roots of adding lightness.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hopefully they offer analog instrument clusters as an option.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Veneer in an Elise... F you Danny Bahar.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I agree they have a very impressive line up coming down the tracks. I hope they pull it off.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It seems rather ironic to me that at a time when both Ferrari and Lamborguini are working had to increase performance thru lighter weight (the Sesto Elemento as an extraordinary example) that Lotus is the one adding weight. Of all the companies that should realize that 'adding lightness' is the way to all-around performance, you would expect them to be the leaders.
      So sad.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm very exited about the "new" Lotus company. I wish them success and I'm looking forward to the production vehicles. I don't think those five concepts look to similar, they share the same styling but every car has its own unique shapes and proportions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Part II in Autoblog's multi-part blowjob to Lotus. You should call it the Elope. As in get a room.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So you'd rather that AB focused on the latest Hyundai lineup? Don't know about you but I'd rather read about any Lotus vs. the greatest-thing-since-sliced bread cars from Korea.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So you'd rather that AB focused on the latest Hyundai lineup? Don't know about you but I'd rather read about any Lotus vs. the greatest-thing-since-sliced bread cars from Korea.

      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      You would think that Lotus could keep the weight down. I mean the Elise will be gaining 400lbs and the Esprit will be gaining 500 lbs! Then the Eterne is going to be about 4000lbs, that just seems ridiculous for a company that is know for being extremely successful building light weight vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Have you ever been in an Elise? It's as Spartan and bare-bones as they come. There's no sound dampening, the largest speaker is 5 1/2", the AC unit is tiny and barely blows cool must less cold, the shifter wiggled because it's bolted to an aluminum floor extrusion - which is all there is under your feet and seat - no carpet just floor mats. Inside the dash is thin stamped aluminum that will shred your hands like a cheese grater. There's no spare, there's no cruise control or power steering or cup holders. The trunk holds maybe two soft half-packed duffel bags.

        If you made this car more "liveable" to the average person you'd have to include all the aforementioned (maybe not a spare tire) but all of that could easily tack on 400lbs
      • 4 Years Ago
      The City Car front look like a Storm Trooper Helmet from Star Wars. Loving all the styles.
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