If it seems like all you’ve seen from Lotus in recent years is one iteration after another of two cars, the Elise roadster and the Exige coupe, you’re right: that’s exactly what you’ve seen. But Lotus number three will not be a modern-day version of the famous Esprit supercar, as we once thought, because Lotus boss Mike Kimberley reportedly believed that the next Esprit didn’t have enough Lotus DNA, so he sent it back to the drawing board. We’ll see that car sometime after the turn of the decade. In the meantime, Lotus will bring us another new model, code-named Eagle.
The Eagle is an all-new – in other words, not derived from the Elise – two-plus-two, and it will be powered by a mid-mounted Toyota V-6, possibly the Camry’s 268-hp engine. Before you scoff at such a pedestrian powerplant, remember that all U.S.-market Lotus cars use Toyota power. A paddleshifted transmission likely will be optional; there are rumors of a convertible version as well. Pricing should start at about $60,000.
IF A LOTUS (2+2) BLOSSOMS IN THE WOODS . . . There’s no doubt that the appeal of the simplistic Elise/Exige is limited; Lotus desperately needs to expand its lineup. Despite the negative connotations that seem to afflict a family-friendly, “large” Lotus – and the legacy of past two-plus-two failures such as the unloved Eclat – we have high hopes.