First Look: Lotus Elite

Hybrid muscle aims to move British brand from niche to mainstream.

by on Sep.21, 2010

Lotus enters the hybrid era with the Elite Concept.

The newly-expanded alliance between Toyota and Britain’s Lotus will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show, later this month.  And if all goes according to plan, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar is determined to transform the brand from a niche to a relatively mainstream player.

The Lotus Elite concept will serve as the British marque’s new flagship when it makes the transition from show car to production model in April 2013, the maker says.  Whether it will maintain the high-tech hybrid system remains to be seen, however.

Paris Preview!

In concept form, the Lotus Elite uses a front-mid-mounted V8 linked to an epicyclic transmission that is linked to a pair of electric motors.  As with the gasoline-electric systems under development by competitors ranging from Porsche to Ferrari, the goal is to boost mileage, to meet future American CAFE standards, drive down CO2 emissions, to comply with tough new European regulations – and provide some added torque for even more aggressive performance.

The Lotus Elite concept initially brings to mind the design language of an Aston-Martin.

Think of it as a car of “perfect contradictions,” suggests Bahar, “compact yet spacious, high-performing yet low-emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid.”

Nearly a foot longer than the current Lotus Evora and weighing in at around 3,630 pounds, the show car will be revealed in hardtop convertible form, though it’d be a good bet to expect a lighter 2+2 coupe once production begins, in early 2014.

Look for the Lotus Elite to share a version of the 5.0-liter V8 currently used in the Lexus IS-F.

Last week, Toyota and Lotus announced a new partnership that is expected to get the British maker access to an assortment of new powertrains from the Japanese maker.  (Click Here for more.)

For Elite, that will likely mean a custom-tuned version of the 5.0-liter V8 now used in the Lexus IS-F muscle car.

A supercharged, 542-horsepower version could be partnered with an Elite R bumping that over the 600-hp mark and trimming 0 to 60 times to the mid-3 second range.

It remains to be seen if Lotus will bring the hybrid technology in the Elite concept to production.

Intentionally or not, the overall look of the Lotus Elite initially brings to mind an Aston-Martin, though the sharp V-wedge that cuts into the front fender and sweeps rearward also carries some of the design cues of the Lexus LF-A supercar.  The curvaceous roofline is likely to make car a 2+2 in name only, but Lotus has reportedly made a conscious effort to ease front seat access, especially compared to the current line of British go-karts.

Obviously, a lot could change between now and 2014, especially exchange rates, but the carmaker says its initial goal is to bring the Lotus Elite in at something under $200,000.

Along with other models designed to fill in the low end of the spectrum, Lotus is hoping to boost volumes and finally put its balance sheet into the black – something Bahar admits it hasn’t done since the mid-1990s.

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One Response to “First Look: Lotus Elite”

  1. [...] Lotus will debut the Elite concept at the Paris Motor Show.  The concept features Toyota hybrid technology mated with a Lexus V8.   Check out the specs and pics. [...]