First Look: 2013 Lotus Espirit

While the return of the Lotus Elite model was our first glimpse at the future of Lotus, Esprit is by far the most anticipated new Lotus. The bad news is we still have to wait until 2013 to see one on the street. As it stands, what we've seen seems to suggest the production car will be worth the lengthy wait.

Lotus plans to share its supercharged, Lexus IS-F-derived, 5.0-liter V-8 across the Esprit, Elite, and Eterne sedan lines, although only the Esprit will position the engine behind the driver. Each vehicle will offer a base engine output of 542 horsepower. For those wanting more power, the R versions will deliver 611 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, although Lotus hasn't revealed what mechanical changes are made to the 5.0-liter to deliver the increase in power.

With a projected 3196-pound curb weight, the Esprit will be the lightest Lotus using the 5.0-liter V-8. Not surprisingly, the 0-62 mph time for the Esprit R is the fastest of the trio at an estimated 3.2 seconds. Lotus will only offer the Esprit with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which can be shifted automatically or via paddle shifters. A top speed of 205 mph is estimated.

Starting with the Esprit, every new Lotus will offer an optional hybrid system of some type. Hybrid systems are tailored to the individual vehicle's needs and attributes. Like the Elite and Eterne, Lotus plans to offer the Esprit with an optional KERS-style hybrid system that can provide a 49-horsepower boost, thanks to electric motors mounted on the front axle. The KERS system meets FIA hybrid GT requirements, and could play a part in Lotus' future racing plans. The primary reason Lotus wants to offer a hybrid option on future products is the pressure to reduce CO2 emissions. With the hybrid drivetrain, expect CO2 emissions to be 250 g/km, an improvement of approximately 5-10 percent over the standard car.

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The rear deck is a touch clumsy, but overall, wow. Stunning.
Please offer a traditional manual. For no other reason than to sell more cars, this would be a biblical driver's car if offered with a clutch.

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