Of all the carmakers that unveiled new vehicles--whether concept or production--at the ongoing Paris Motor Show, no one did it in a flashier manner than Lotus Cars did. While others introduced two or three new cars at their respective display booths, Lotus showed off five--yes, five!--new sports cars: the Elan, the Elise, the Elite, the Esprit and the Eterne. As an aside, this nomenclature carries on the tradition of Lotus cars with names that begin with the letter 'E'. Previous Lotus cars have had such names as Eclat, Excel, Europa, Exige and Evora.
Anyway, after a full day of going around the French car show last week, I went back to the bus that would take us home to our hotel in Chantilly, just outside Paris. To my utter disappointment, however, I was informed by my companions that I had missed the grand spectacle that was the Lotus unveiling. Apparently, Lotus hired the likes of Mickey Rourke and Naomi Campbell to personally take the wraps off its latest cars. The Proton-owned British brand--founded in 1952 by Formula 1 car designer Colin Chapman--also gave away miniature die-cast models to the press, one of which was smugly brandished before me by a cool chap from Singapore's Borneo Motors named Klaus Redomske.
First on the list of Lotus's new cars is the Elan. The original model was launched in 1962 and produced until 1975. A second version would re-enter the scene in 1989, only to be killed again in 1995. This third iteration is said to be due in 2013. Based on official specs and figures, it will be a two-seater, mid-engined RWD car with a 4.0-liter, 444hp gasoline V6 mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Lotus claims a 0-to-100kph time of 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 310kph. Estimated price is £75,000 (P4.5 million).
Next is the Elise, the relatively newer roadster that was first introduced in 1996. This latest version is expected to be released in 2015. It will also be a two-seater, mid-engined RWD car powered by a 2.0-liter, 316hp "mild-hybrid" engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It will zoom from stop to 100kph in 4.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 270kph. Price estimate is pegged at £35,000 (P2.1 million).
Third is the Elite, an old Lotus model manufactured from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1974 to 1982. The car is making a comeback in 2014, this time as a gorgeous 2+2 RWD sports car. It will be equipped with a 5.0-liter, 612hp gasoline V8 (with optional KERS hybrid technology) and a so-called full hybrid transmission. Lotus says this powertrain combo will take the Elite from zero to 100kph in just 3.7 seconds, all the way to a maximum speed of 315kph. The projected price tag? £115,000 (P6.9 million).
Fourth on the list is the popular Esprit, first introduced by Lotus in 1976. Like the new Elan, the new Esprit is scheduled for release in 2013, with an estimated price of £110,000 (P6.6 million). Also a two-seater, mid-engined RWD car, it will have the same propulsion as the Elite, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. And because it is 200kg lighter than the Elite, it has a better 0-100kph time of 3.4 seconds and a higher top speed of 330kph.
Last but just as exciting is the otherworldly Eterne. Lotus is eyeing a 2015 launch and a £120,000 price tag (P7.2 million). The four-seater, four-door RWD fastback will share the same engine as the one powering the Elite and the Esprit, which by the way has an earth-pulling 720Nm of torque. The Eterne, however, is the heaviest of the three at 1,800kg, slightly slowing down its 0-to-100kph time to a full four seconds.
It looks like happy days are here again for Lotus. Colin Chapman would be mighty proud.