Lotus Strikes Gold With Its Special Edition Models
British automaker is finally on the right path towards a return to relevancyby Kirby, on
You would think that an automaker is asking for a death knell if it pinned its business and financial hopes on the strategy of flooding the market with special edition models. it’s a completely unorthodox strategy that will more than likely lead to despair, and yet, stranger things have happened in the auto industry. Well, prepare yourselves for a doozy of a reversal of fortune because, after years of bleeding money, Lotus has finally turned in a profit. A pre-tax one, sure, but still, a profit nonetheless. The British automaker said as much when it announced its financial returns from the 2016 – 2017 financial year, indicating pre-tax profits amounting to $2.6 million. Normally, that kind of financial report would lead to heads rolling at an alarming rate, but considering that the company lost $21 million pre-tax from the previous financial year (2015 – 2016), this is cause for celebration.
To be clear, the company is still in the red some $14.5 million after taxes and other expenses. It still has a ways to go before it can return to self-sustaining status, but again, perspectives matter. In this case, a loss of $14.5 million in 2016 – 2017 is a remarkable improvement from the $53.5 million it lost in the 2015 – 2016 financial year. According to Lotus, this incredible financial turnaround was largely because of a number of significant reasons, including an expanded dealership network, financial security from new owner Geely, and a revamped product portfolio that really flexed its muscles the past year, thanks in large part to the high number of special edition models the company released in the last 12 months.
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Don’t get excited yet, but the future looks a lot more promising
Obviously, CEO Jean Marc Gales deserves the lion’s share of the credits for steering Lotus out of the brink of extinction to far more stable waters in his time as Lotus CEO. But credit also goes to the people behind the development of these cars, which have proven to live up to all the expectations people have of it. Say what you will about the company’s business failings in the past, but nobody’s going to deny that Lotus has earned the distinction for having some of the best pound-for-pound sports cars in the market. There’s very little argument against that.
The British automaker said as much when it announced its financial returns from the 2016 – 2017 financial year, indicating pre-tax profits amounting to $2.6 million
Now that Lotus is finally pointed in the right direction, is it too early to presume that big things are waiting for the company? I’m tempted to say “no” because I am legitimately excited for Lotus’ future, but the truth is that it is a little too early to start popping those twirly poppers. Lotus still needs to streamline its business portfolio in order to have a smoother run at the business side now that it has the financial support of new owner Geely.
It’s going to be hard to mess this one up because the company is in much better shape than it was as recently as a few years ago. Fortunately, they seem to have the right man leading them in Gales and if this strategy of complementing the company’s core models with one special edition model after another has proven to be a smart play, then we can at least expect Lotus to continue driving down this road in the foreseeable future.
For now, though, let’s take a look at some of the more recent special edition Lotus models that have helped the company become a picture of relevancy again.
If I were to venture a guess which among the recent special edition Lotus models sold out the fastest, my money’s on the Lotus Evora Sport 410. It was limited to just 150 units when it came out at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, and it was pegged to be the fastest road-going Lotus in history. It certainly didn’t disappoint its billing as the Evora Sport 410 packed 410 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque under its hood, a ten-horsepower boost over the Evora 400, its special edition predecessor, for a lack of a better term. Those figures helped the Evora Sport 410 achieve an acceleration time to 60 mph of just under four seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the Evora 400, and a top speed of 186 mph.
Not surprisingly, the success of the Evora 400 spurred the creation of the Evora 410. And as fate would have it, Lotus also followed up the 410 with the more powerful Evora GT430, which Lotus just announced a month ago. The GT430 model packs 430 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, allowing it to further cut its sprint-to-60-mph time to just 3.7 seconds while also increasing the top speed to 190 mph. Oh, and only 60 of the units will be made available when the model hits the market in later this year.
Read our full review on the Lotus Evora Sport 410.
In keeping with Lotus’ tradition of doubling down on special edition models, the Exile Sport 380 arrived in late 2016 in similar circumstances as the Evora Sport 410 and the Evora GT430 as an evolution of another special edition model, namely the Exile Sport 350.
Lotus described the Exige Sport 380 as a “giant-slayer” in part because it had performance abilities that could compete against supercars with “six-figure” price tags, as CEO Jean Marc Gales described them. Proving his golden touch with Lotus is no fluke, Gales’ comments came with some serious meat behind them, thanks in large part to the Evora Sport 380 boasting power levels amounting to 375 horsepower and 301 pound-feet of torque. It may not look like much, but when you combine it with the fact that the sports car weighed less than a ton, it was enough to propel the sports car from an idle position to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds on its way to hitting a top speed of 176 mph.
Read our full review on the Lotus Exige Sport 380.
Since we’re here, we might as well point out that even Lotus’ entry-level model, the Elise, has been subjected to the special edition treatment, specifically the aptly named Elise 250 Special Edition.
Much like its big brother SEs, the Elise 250 Special Edition is a spawn of a previous special edition model, the Elise Cup 250, which itself owes its roots to the earlier Elise Cup. Sense the pattern here?
The Elise 250 Special Edition was essentially framed as a standard Elise on steroids. It certainly looked the part of one, thanks to an aggressive aero kit that includes a protruding front splitter, massive side skirts, a race-spec rear diffuser, and a large rear wing. In addition to all of that the Elise 250 Special Edition also features a 1.8-liter supercharged four-cylinder engine that pumps out 243 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, enough to sprint to 60 mph in just 3.9s seconds before setting off at a top speed of 154 mph.
Read our full review on the Lotus Elise 250 Special Edition.
Arguably one of the most radical Lotus models to come out since its predecessor, the 2-Eleven, the Lotus 3-Eleven was introduced to be the perfect Lotus track car that could also be configured as a road car. It featured dramatic styling, more dramatic aerodynamics, a no-nonsense interior, and power levels that go all the way up to a whopping 460 horsepower.
Those are the main takeaways from the Lotus 3-Eleven, and yet, they still don’t paint the whole picture of what the car is all about. For one, it doesn’t have a conventional windshield. What it does have is a massive aerodynamic kit that includes a larger splitter, new hood, reshaped bumpers and fenders, a decklid spoiler, and a massive rear wing. If those aren’t enough, the 3-Eleven also makes use of the same 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 engine found in the Lotus Evora and Exige S. The engine allows it to produce two different output numbers depending on the variant. The track version, for example, has an output of 460 horsepower while the road version carries 410 horsepower with it, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds on its way to hitting a top speed of 174 mph. Best of all, the Lotus 3-Eleven was only limited to just 311 units at prices that started at £82,500 (about $107,000) for the road variant and £116,500 (around $152,000) for the race version.
Read our full review on the Lotus 3-Eleven.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Evora GT430.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Evora Sport 410 "Esprit S1" Edition.
Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Exige Sport 380.