Although the new Esprit will be a fitting halo car for Lotus, the revived Elan is arguably the most important product Lotus will bring to market in 2013. The Elan has far greater appeal, and a much lower price, than the Esprit and was designed to be the ultimate daily driver as well as a delight on the track.
The new Elan is really a significantly revised Evora and the changes should delight die-hard Lotus fans. Perhaps the most important figure is the 192 pounds shaved from the car, resulting in an impressively low 2855-pound curb weight. If that weight loss isn’t very impressive, consider the fact that the car also grows 4.3 inches longer, a full two inches wider, and 2.3 inches taller at the same time. Lotus wants the Elan to be even easier to live with on a daily basis than the Evora, so the A-pillars move forward, and the door sills are lowered to make ingress and egress much easier for the driver and passenger. We expect the 2+2 to appeal to a much larger audience than the current Evora for this reason alone.
Like all future Lotus products, the Elan will be available in base or R-spec forms. The base Elan uses the same 3.5-liter Toyota V-6 as the current Evora, but sees a 119 hp increase to 395 hp. Opting for the R version means an incredible 444 hp and 343 lb-ft of torque will be sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. For the R, a top speed of 192 mph is projected along with a 3.5 second 0-62 mph sprint, but even a base Elan should still run from 0-60 mph in under four seconds. Given the massive increase in performance, Porsche’s 911, Audi’s R8, and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage are credible rivals. Those looking for a balance between performance and CO2 emissions will likely choose to add the KERS system for its 199 g/km emissions rating.
While viewing the entire range of future Lotus models at Hethel in August, the Elan was by far the most striking vehicle on display. Design director Donato Coco used the early Esprit as his design inspiration and we’re happy to report the Elan has the most menacing look of Lotus’ new lineup. Despite actually being a bit taller and narrower than the Esprit, the Elan looks much lower and wider in person. Lotus is applying its familiar “proprietary HMI” control solution to the Elan’s interior, and still not giving out any significant details about the system’s capabilities at this point.
We appreciate what Lotus is doing with the Elan. It should offer an excellent combination of utility (thanks to the optional 2+2 configuration), performance, and technology that broadens the brand’s appeal without being too big or too heavy for current Lotus fans’ taste.