Typically the CEOs of big companies stay in the background and just keep the corporate wheels turning. Most CEOs also know that it is typically not a good thing when your name ends up in the papers just as often, if not more often, than the brand you are heading up. Well, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar must have a tough time comprehending the fact that no new is good news for a CEO.
It came to a head whenever DRB-HICOM purchased Proton , Lotus’s parent company, and inherited the Lotus money vacuum in the process. The media then took to speculating about the status of Lotus, given its new owner, and Bahar went on a teenage girl-like rampage via the worst possible medium, Facebook. That post still remains on the company’s page too.
At that point, we started speculating that Bahar’s time with Lotus may be limited, as DRB-HICOM really has no need for a moody CEO that can’t keep his company’s head above water. Apparently, we had our crystal ball working that day, as DRB-HICOM has announced that Bahar has been “temporarily suspended” following an operational review and a full investigation of Bahar’s actions will take place during his suspension. Several executives from DRB-HICOM will take Bahar’s place during his absence.
Well, I have been in the corporate world long enough to know that a “temporary suspension” during an “investigation” typically spell out “you’re fired once we find some dirt.” Rarely does a suspended employee ever return to their original position and few return at all, so we have a feeling that this will ultimately put an end to the drama of Dany Bahar. Looks like TopSpeed’s “Lotus” section is going to be dry for a while… At least until we get word that Dany is now managing a local McDonalds.
Sure, Lotus may be facing some incredibly tough times at the moment, but there’s no question that in the good times, the relatively small British marque produced some of the finest sports cars in the market. In fact, the Lotus Elise is often the benchmark for handling which others aim to replicate, and the Elise’s twin brother the Exige is no exception to that rule.
Not only has the Exige been transformed from its very first-generation, gaining power, weight, speed, and size, it still manages to maintain that unique Lotus flavor, and this is a point which is evident in the following review conducted by Chris Harris for the Drive network.
Before you check out the video, remember that while it’s an extreme version of the regular Exige, it’s nothing compared to the range-topping Evora GTE which is actually the most powerful production car ever produced by Lotus. That being said, the Exige S is still an extremely capable sports car with its supercharged 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering no less than 350HP.
Combine that with extremely sticky Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires and an overall weight of just over 2,200 pounds, and you have one of the finest sports cars on the market.
Here’s hoping that Lotus can sort itself out over the coming months as we can’t foresee a future without Lotus being an integral part of it.
Crashing a regular Lotus Exige is bad enough, but crashing an Exige so customized it could pass as a completely different car is something else entirely. Frank Profera built the car pictured completely by hand over the past six years, even fitting it with both a supercharger and turbocharger to help it produce in excess of 700BHP.
As a result, Frank claimed on the video past the jump when Matt Farah drove his one-off masterpiece for the Drive channel that it was the fastest Lotus in the world, even trumping the incredible Hennessey Venom GT in the twisty roads of the Californian canyons.
Unfortunately however, the car was recently involved in an incident on California’s Route 101, where Frank claims he was rear-ended by a Porsche before sliding backwards into the median strip. In what can only be described as an all-out attack on the Porsche driver, Frank posted a comment on YouTube continually swearing at the driver and taking no responsibility for the incident himself.
Just like any other car crash, there will undoubtedly be conflicting views in how it occurred, and if Profera is to be believed, the Porsche driver didn’t stop and instead continued on their merry way. Thankfully no one was injured in the accident, and the damage only seems to be external, but it will take weeks if not months for the owner to fix all the custom body panels.
Follow the jump to see Profera’s car in action and the pictures.
In Britain, a sports car isn’t officially launched until it takes a few runs up the Goodwood Hill Climb, so Lotus had to send out their Exige S that was launched last year at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show to put it through its final test at Goodwood. This hill climb may not be anywhere near the status of the Nurburgring, but for Brits, it’s a huge deal. The video includes a few rapid launches from the start line on the legendary course as well as flybys and accelerations on track.
As a reminder, the new Exige S is powered by a 3.5 liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine that delivers a total of 345 HP. It sprints the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 170 mph.
Lotus has already unveiled the new Exige S , but that doesn’t mean people have forgotten about the old version. In fact, Frank Profera from California wasn’t very pleased with his stock Exige so he did some improvements that transformed the car into the "world’s fastest Lotus." Or at least that’ what he claims.
Profera has spent six years making his Lotus go faster, stop shorter, and corner harder. After all this work, the 1.8 liter engine of his Exige model delivers a total of 680 wheel horsepower. And when the sports car’s 2,150 lbs weight is considered, that’s a better power-to-weight ratio than Mario Andretti’s Formula One Lotus. That being said, this a project that may never be finished because of Frank’s never-ending obsession with speed.
When Proton announced they may sell Lotus to a large Malaysian industrial conglomerate (DRB-Hicom), everyone knew the future of the Esprit supercar would be in danger, and everyone was right. During a recent interview with British magazine, EVO, Lotus boss Dany Bahar announced that development of all future models, including the Esprit has been suspended.
As a result of the sale, Lotus is taking an NBA type break with a three month "lockdown" - meaning that only normal trading activities could be continued. Translated, this means that the production of the current models will continue at a reduced level, but the development of the future models has been delayed. This decision obviously affects customers because the official market launch of the new Exige S and Evora GTE have been delayed, and we won’t get to see the production Esprit until early 2014.
"This difficult period for Lotus finishes at the end of March and that’s when we will know then whether DRB-Hicom will want to continue with our business plan," said Bahar. "I really hope they will but I cannot call it at the moment, it’s still 50:50."
The Geneva Motor Show never disappoints. Every year, we bear witness to some of the most amazing auto debuts on this event, and this year, it’s no different.
As far as sports cars and super cars are concerned, there were so many eye-popping debuts that literally made our heads spin. German sports cars, Italian super cars, special edition British super cars, and yes, there was even one exotic from Sweden that received an upgrade.
In this section, we’re going to dive into the sports cars and super cars that made their debuts at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The list runs pretty long so we suggest that you start heading over after the jump to check out which of these established brands made quite an impression on us at Geneva.
Find out more about the run-down of sports cars and super cars that made their debuts at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show after the jump.
Lotus ’ involvement in auto racing has resulted in a storied Formula 1 resume that includes six Drivers’ and seven Constructors’ World Championships. But for all of its achievement in Formula 1, the British automaker also has a World Rally Championship under its belt.
After a long absence in the world of rally racing, Lotus is returning to the dirt for the FIA European Rally Championship with a specially designed Exige R-GT .
Dressed in its iconic black and gold color scheme, the Exige R-GT Rally Race Car will be powered by a 3.5-liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine that produces 300 horsepower. Seeing as the car is being built for rally racing, Lotus made some tweaks to adhere to FIA regulations, particularly the reduction in output.
According to Claudio Berro, Lotus’ racing director, the Exige R-GT FIA Rally Car will be the first GT car to be homologated by the FIA. "Lotus, of course, has been successful in rallying before, so in many ways we’re going back to our roots," he adds.
The Exige R-GT will see its first testing action before heading over to the customary FIA homologation process. Should everything go according to plan, we can expect to see it make its debut at the Mille Miglia rally on April 19-21, 2012, leading to its participation in special rally stages at the FIA European Rally Championship.
Last year’s picks for the coupe of the year raged a war between the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang , but this year things are a bit different. In fact, neither one of these muscle cars made the list, simply because the new Camaro ZL1 isn’t available for purchase just yet.
With the two major muscle cars out of the running, we were still left with a ton of vehicles worthy of some time in the spotlight. Our choices for the top coupes of 2011 are kind of all over the place. From the Audi TT-RS’ return to the States to the Lotus Exige S and its road-going capabilities on the other side of the pond, there’s pretty much a flavor for anybody.
In fact, if we’ve missed one of your favorites, make sure to hit us up.
Hit the jump for our picks for the 2011 Coupe of the Year, in alphabetical order.
Hiding behind the shadow of the bigger and better 2012 Lotus Exige S at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show is Lotus’ brand new Exige R-GT. This new racer marks the brand’s return to the rally world, 30 years after their World Rally Championship victory in the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. The Exige R-GT will participate in the newly formed FIA GT category of the FIA Rally Championship on asphalt in Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse, and San Remo.
The new Exige R-GT shares the new Exige S model’s mid-mounted, transverse 3.5 liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine, but power has been brought down to 300 HP because of the 34mm air restrictor required for racing. The Exige R-GT will also have to pack on ballast weight to meet FIA requirements of 1200 kg (2645 lbs).
"With the new R-GT rules in rally, it’s a very interesting time for us to return to the sport. Naturally our approach this time around will be different to when we won the championship with Talbot three decades ago but I think our philosophy is definitely the same, we want to compete and ultimately we want to win. Our new rally car, the Exige R-GT is a dream come true for those who are passionate about GT racing – this will be their car," said Group Lotus’ Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro.
UPDATE 12/28/2011: After its official debut in Frankfurt, the Exige R-GT headed to the Dallara’s headquarters in Varano Melegari, Palma on December 22, 2011 for its first track test under the watchful eye of Group Lotus Director of Motorsport, Claudio Berro, and technicians from the team. According to Lotus, the results were delightful and the team will continue to test the car until the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship season where the Exige will contend in the FIA GT category on asphalt at events in Monte Carlo, Tour de Corse, and San Remo. We have also added new images from the testing days. Enjoy!