The new Lotus Esprit is due in 2012 and might use a Toyota powerplant, continuing Lotus and Toyota’s relationship in powertrain sharing. While the Elise and Exige use Toyota’s 1.8-liter I-4 and the Evora uses Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6, expect the Esprit to use something more along the lines of the Lexus LF-A’s 500-hp V-10.
The original Lotus Esprit was available with everything from a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine to a twin-turbo V-8 at the end of its life. It seems Lotus is coming out swinging with the next Esprit due in 2012 by possibly offering the [unlaunched] Lexus LF-A’s 500-hp V-10.
Lotus’ flagship supercar would compete directly with the Audi R8 5.2 FSI and its Italian cousin, the Lamborghini Gallardo. Using the V-10 would certainly raise Lotus’ profile from the maker of some wicked street-legal track monsters into the realm of true supercars.
An entry-level V-6 model of the car would be offered using a direct-injected Toyota V-6 with around 300-hp. The V-6 would likely be the same 3.5-liter unit found in the company’s new Evora model. A model using the Lexus IS-F’s 5.0-liter, 416-hp V-8 engine (but thankfully not the eight-speed automatic transmission) would slot right between the two.
Another possibility for the Esprit is an “Eco Esprit.” Lotus believes the push for more efficient vehicles suits its preference for lightweight engineering. At the British firm, “powertrain engineering” has also now become “propulsions systems engineering” to show the company’s interest in developing new drive systems for vehicles.
While the Esprit is due in 2012, full development work on the vehicle has not started, as the company is concentrating on getting its new Evora model — the platform on which the Esprit will be based — into showrooms. Lotus’ owners, Proton, also want to see how well the Evora performs sales-wise before financing another model’s development.
If everything goes as planned, a new Esprit will be in showrooms and available for purchase sometime in 2012. The flagship model, with the 500-hp V-10, is expected to have a list price of more than £100,000 ($160,000). Pricing like this puts the Esprit V-10 squarely in the sights of the Audi R8 5.2 FSI, which lists for around the same price in the U.K.