It took 1.5 years, but a DRB-Hicom managing director told Malaysia's Business Times that the company has "cleaned up" the situation at Lotus from its finances to its marketing and image. The clean-up job we're most interested in, the product portfolio, will be demonstrated by financial investment in a three-year program of "variants based on existing products - variants with improved technology, improved performance."
You'll notice mention of the word "variants" three times but no mention of the phrase "new models." We knew that with the death of the five-new-model turnaround plan dreamed up by ex-Lotus CEO Dany Bahar DRB-Hicom said there'd only be three distinct lines - which is the current number - but during Lotus' trouble-plagued 2012 it sold just 80 cars all year, and for a tense spell it really wasn't clear if DRB-Hicom would commit to even keeping Lotus alive, much less investing in it.
It's not clear how much is being put into in the three-year program of offshoot models like the 345-horsepower Exige S Roadster (pictured), but it might be fair to say this is where Lotus' revival really begins, and does so with baby steps. Autocar reports that DRB-Hicom has already put 100 million pounds into the English carmaker, and as its issues were worked through Lotus has sold almost as many cars in the first five months of this year as it did all of last. That has not only convinced the Malaysian minders to throw more money its way, but the UK's business secretary has also approved a 10-million-pound investment into Lotus through the Regional Growth Facility program.
However, with the Evora and Elise the only other models to earn the "Definites" tag this could put us another three years away from the return of the Esprit. Last we heard it was ready save for a management sign-off, but it goes into reverse - again - to an underground garage called "nebulosity."