Deep Dive: Lotus Developing Its Own Engines

January 20, 2011
One of the many questions hanging over Lotus since it revealed five cars at last fall's Paris auto show has been where it would find engines for these ambitious new models. Toyota? BMW? Somewhere else? The answer, it seems, is Lotus, as the English automaker is developing its own range of six- and eight-cylinder engines.
2015 Lotus Elise Front Three Quarters
For a while, Lotus contemplated buying its engines from the Toyota Group, as it has for the Elise and the Evora. The wish list included the hideously expensive V-10 fitted to the Lexus LFA, the surprisingly affordable V-8 we know from the IS-F, and a new 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder. Now, only the four-cylinder remains on the agenda. For the other engines, Lotus has decided to go on its own and design something lighter, more compact, and a lot more fuel-efficient. To keep the expenditures at bay, the V-6 and the V-8 are closely related, and this does not only apply to the 90-degree cylinder angle. The displacement for the V-8 stretches from 4.0 to 4.8 liters, and the V-6 has its sweet spot between 3.0 and 3.5 liters. There are normally aspirated and twin-turbo variants in the works, and the redline is an impressive 9250 rpm. The low-calorie Lotus V-8 reportedly weighs some 130-pounds less than the 5.0-liter V-8 found in the IS-F. Insiders expect a 4.8-liter version rated at about 550 hp and 600 hp (Esprit R) along with a 3.2-liter V-6 listed at 350 hp (normally aspirated) and 500 hp (turbocharged).
These numbers are not yet final, and the range is bound to expand as Lotus introduces harder-core R and R+ derivatives. The future of the Elan, initially planned for 2014, is iffy to say the least, so the V-6 may become a second priority reserved for future entry-level models or for a top-of-the-line variant of the 2015 Elise. The choice of transmissions will reportedly include a six- or seven-speed manual as well as a six- or seven-speed sequential gearbox with hyperfast actuators. A plug-in hybrid option, also expected to debut in the Elite, features an 80-hp electric motor and a high-performance battery pack.
Lotus has not sold a vehicle powered by an engine of its own design since the last Esprit rolled out of the factory in 2004 with a twin-turbo 3.5-liter DOHC aluminum V-8 mounted behind the passenger compartment.


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