Lotus cars

The 2012 Geneva Motor Show is less than one month away and, taking into account all of the cars scheduled to appear, it’s going to be a hell of a show. This is especially true if we consider the fact that Lotus has just announced they will "blow the top off" in Geneva this year. Signs point to a convertible, or strategically placed bait for the media.

The British company hasn’t revealed any details on the exact model that will be blowing its top, but their press release says that the new car will have "something breezy, something loud, something ice-cold, and some other interesting elements." Logically speaking, the "blow the top off" part seems pretty self explanatory, but the other elements have definitely sparked our curiosity. A whole new model would certainly not be out of the question, but highly unlikely. The next Lotus Exige was rumored to debut at the Geneva Motor Show, but that’s a Coupe so Lotus is either throwing us for a loop or debuting something different. A possible convertible model could be the convertible version of the Evora that was rumored a few years ago, which would suit us just fine.

Whatever the case may be, the mysterious Lotus will show its face, and it’s possible drop top, when the Geneva Motor Show opens its doors on March 6, 2012. Stay tuned!

Group Lotus has announced the start of one of the world’s most elite clubs – the Lotus Club GT. This special club was created to bring together people with a passion for Lotus and motorsport for a racing driver program that is unique, unforgiving, and unforgettable.

All you need to enter this amazing club is to be the owner of one of Lotus’s premium race-bred models – the Evora GT4 and Evora Enduro with club specification. Club events come courtesy of the marque’s professional works drivers and the Lotus F1 Team. Club GT will ensure members get the most from their cars and from themselves, and become legends in their own lifetime.

The club was officially inaugurated at this week’s Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC that started on January 12, 2012. The perfect place to enjoy bucket seats, carbon-fiber and the smell of burnt rubber.

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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.

Lotus Esprit

Thirty years ago, when James Bond pulled up in an Esprit S1 in The Spy Who Loved Me and an Esprit Turbo in For Your Eyes Only, Lotus execs had big, shit-eating grins on their faces. When the famous spy dropped the contract with Lotus, these same execs began scrambling to figure out their next step. That next step came with a buyout from Proton Proton in 1996, but things haven’t gotten much better and Proton may be ready and willing to snip the cord and let Lotus become someone else’s problem.

It took Proton 15 years and zero profit to come to terms with the fact that the Lotus purchase wasn’t a highlight of their business plan. After all, Proton builds sedans and taxis, while Lotus builds sports cars and wants to compete with makers like Ferrari Ferrari and Porsche, so the oil and water scenario comes to mind. Now Proton is in trouble itself, and investors such as Gan Eng Peng say selling Lotus may just be what they need to get back in gear, but they’ll have to find a buyer first.

As of right now, no one has stepped up to make an offer, which isn’t all that surprising considering Lotus doesn’t stand to make a profit until the new Esprit comes out in 2014. Lotus Chief Executive Officer Dany Taner Bahar (formerly a Ferrari executive) backs up that statement saying he’s confident Lotus Lotus can become profitable by 2014. Of course, that will be really hard to do unless they get some financial backing sooner rather than later.

Does anyone have millions of dollars they would use to bet on the success of the new Esprit?

Source: Bloomberg

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 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!

Does the Lotus World Car Concept preview their City Car?
Lotus City Car

It was only a few days ago that Lotus announced their intentions on building a small city car to rival the new Aston Martin Cygnet , and now they have unveiled details on a project they have been working on with the International Council on Clean Transportation that was undertaken with the California Air Resources Board, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The project is for a Lotus World Car Concept and only exists in a computer somewhere for the time being. It features the Toyota Venza’s interior package, capability, performance, wheels, and tires.

As of right now, all of this sounds like a normal beginning point for a new, cleaner model, but Lotus has also announced that the Word Car may go into production fairly soon. Does this mean that we may be looking at a concept that previews their City Car? Stranger things have happened. We are all used to concept cars coming out with extravagant details that we only wish would make it on the production version, but most of the time, we are left with just a shadow of what the concept was. Following this trend, it would seem fitting to start off with a World Car just to downsize it to a City Car come production time.

The Lotus World Car Concept offers interior room for two passengers and a 9-cubic-foot luggage area or fourth occasional seat. There’s no instrument panel, so the driver will need to get all the necessary information from a smart phone or tablet.

As far as power, on paper, the Lotus World Car Concept is powered by a 50 HP 600cc engine placed ahead of the rear axle and combined to a shaft-drive motorcycle transmission. It is said to weigh just 1,150 lbs and will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in the 8-9 second range. Top speed is supposed to be about 120 mph and fuel economy has been reported at 84 city/127 highway.

Not much information was given on Lotus’ future City Car, but images released of both vehicles illustrate a similar exterior look. They did, however, offer a price on the City Car - about £29,000 (or about $45,300 at the current exchange rates) - which is a far cry from the intended price of the World Car - less than $9,000 if put into production.

Source: MotorTrend

The Evora GTE Concept’s engine is still a bit warm from its 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance debut, and Lotus is already revving up the production version for the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Evora GTE road car was originally designed as a special limited edition for the Asian market, but Group Lotus has decided to expand its production to meet demand and reach further markets.

The Evora GTE is powered by a race-tuned 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers a total of 444 HP, making it the most powerful Lotus road car ever built. It also delivers a comfortable and refined element to its high performance driving characteristics.

Commenting on the Evora GTE road car, Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: "The response to this model in China has been so incredible, within days we had sold out with 114 orders. In response we decided that the only logical step from a business perspective was to increase production and widen our reach.

"What is unique about this car, is not just that it’s a serious race car – it’s a serious car. People get so excited when they see and especially hear it for the first time. It’s a very special car and will appeal to a very special type of driver – and they won’t be disappointed!"

UPDATE 09/13/2011: The new special edition Evora GTE has finally been unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show today. The new model comes with carbon fiber front and rear bumpers, a carbon fiber rear wing, and carbon fiber doors. This measure, next to the lightweight Recaro carbon fiber seats, help to reduce the total weight by 231 lbs.

UPDATE 12/19/2011: Lotus has dropped new images of the special edition Evora GTE - and we have to admit it looks great in yellow. See all of the images in our picture gallery!

Lotus seems to be taking their "five-year, five model plan" very seriously and the new generation Esprit set to be released at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show will be the model to set that plan in motion.

New details about the future supercar revealed that the Esprit will, in fact, be offered in two versions. A base model will combine a 100 HP electric motor to a normally aspirated V8 engine and a more powerful version will drop the hybrid system and focus on weight-saving measures.

"There will be no hybrid system, the engine will have more power, but the major performance gains will come from losing weight," said Bahar. "The ‘Racing’ versions of each model will always be pure, driver’s cars. There will be never be anything unnecessary on them, and we will use materials such as carbon fiber."

Sales for the new Lotus Esprit will begin in Europe in Summer 2013.

Source: Autocar

Lotus is in high gear, attempting to fill in every gap of their "five year, five model" plan. So much so, in fact, that they are even stepping away from their sports car roots and developing a city car to rival the new Aston Martin Cygnet . The baby Lotus will first be developed by parent company, Proton, and is set to go on sale in 2014.

The move to develop a city car stems from the fact that Lotus didn’t feel confident going against Mini, BMW, and Audi in the small car segment. During an interview with Auto Express Dany Bahar said: "There’s no point in trying to fight the MINIs, and the small BMWs and Audis unless you have a special offering. Our car will be an EV or range extended EV and will offer performance of no other small car."

The future Lotus city car will first be offered as a Proton, but will be easily adapted to a Lotus platform when the time comes. The Lotus version will be more expensive than the Proton Proton , a move that Lotus says will be justified in the additions to the car. That being said, it will be about £2000 cheaper (or $3,125 at the current exchange rates) than the Cygnet so expect to pay about £29,000 - or about $45,300 at the current exchange rates.

The Lotus City Car will be a production version of the Ethos concept unveiled at the Paris Auto Show. The concept used a 1.2 liter, 3 cylinder Lotus Range Extender engine with a peak torque of 177 lb-ft. The concept finished the 0 to 60 mph in just 9 seconds and was capable of hitting a top speed of 105 mph.

Source: AutoExpress

The legend is back! Lotus has unveiled today the new Esprit sports car. Described as the "ultimate Lotus," the new Esprit will go into production at the end of 2012, with first deliveries beginning in late 2013, early 2014. Lotus announced an estimated price of £110,000 ($175,000 at the current rates).

At the unveiling of the Evora S model in San Jose in June 2011, Lotus Cars USA PR boss, Kevin Smith, confirmed that the Esprit supercar would be getting Lotus’ in-house V8 engine and both a manual and a dual-clutch transmission. This V8 engine was originally said to deliver between 550 - 570 HP, but actually achieved 570 HP at around 9000rpm and 398 lb-ft of torque at a bit higher than 3000rpm. Lotus Chief Technical Officer, Wolf Zimmermann, says this engine can reach up to 630 HP at 9,400 rpm and 424 lb-ft of torque between 5,500 and 6,000rpm. The V8 weighs in at about 375 lbs, which is about 176 lbs lighter than the original 5.0L V8 Lotus was going to borrow from Lexus. It will be used for both the Esprit and, as confirmed by Smith, an even more exotic Elite .

"One has to be very careful when taking on the challenge of reinventing such an iconic classic as the Esprit – everyone has an opinion. There’s a fine balance between acknowledging the greatness of the past whilst at the same time rapidly leaping forward to the future and ensuring that this car not only does the name Esprit justice but also the Lotus brand. I think we’ve managed to find the balance and in doing so created a new icon, a car people will find hard to resist."

UPDATE 11/21/2011: Lotus officials has confirmed that the next generation Esprit will be powered by a 4.8 liter V8 engine. This new engine will deliver a total of 570 HP in standard version, but the company will be also offering a higher-tuned variant with an output of 620 HP. (Autoblog)

UPDATE 12/12/2011:New details about the future supercar revealed that the Esprit will, in fact, be offered in two versions. A base model will combine a 100 HP electric motor to a normally aspirated V8 engine and a more powerful version will drop the hybrid system and focus on weight-saving measures. (AutoCar)

UPDATE 10/04/2012: According to Lotus Forums, the Esprit has officially been axed. leaving the Elise, Exige, and Evora as the only standing models on the company’s new era lineup.

Press release after the jump.

Source: AutoGuide

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