2008/2009 Lotus Esprit spied on the road

In 2004, Lotus’ famed Esprit ceased production after 27 legendary years. Many car enthusiasts first caught a glimpse of it in two James Bond films, while others fell in love with it in Pretty Woman and Basic Instinct.

Lotus is working as fast as they can on the next-generation Esprit, scheduled to debut in late 2008 as a 2009 model. These spy shots of a heavily disguised prototype are the first of a model that is beyond the test mule stage.

Lotus is referring to the new Esprit internally as the MSC (mid-engined supercar), and has created an all-new lightweight aluminum structure for it. Lotus’ prowess at their philosophy of “add lightness” has most recently been exemplified in the sub-2000 lb. Elise. The new chassis will offer Lotus the flexibility to introduce the Esprit both as a traditional hard top and in a first-ever roadster model. In addition, there are rumors of a 2+2 GT and possibly a lesser-powered 6-cylinder sportscar.

While Lotus’ drivetrain choice has been finalized, the specifics have not yet been officially released to the public. Sources, however, are telling us that Lotus has picked a 4.4 or 4.8 liter BMW V8, with engine management tweaked by Lotus’ engine programming wizards. Lotus, aiming to extract the maximum possible performance and handling characteristics from the new model, will be mounting the engine and transmission longitudinally. If you look closely at the spy shot of the rear of the prototype, you can see the transmission case at the bottom rear end, behind the mid-mounted powerplant.

Lotus is aiming at a price point of around $130,000. This is a good step up from the previous model Esprit which maxed out around $95,000, but well under what Lotus sees as the direct competition: the Ferrari F430. With such lofty and proven competition, Lotus has its work cut out for it, but their engineers have a reputation of being among the best in the business. We can’t wait to report the details of this new model to you as it comes closer to being released.

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