Lotus Esprit

The Lotus Esprit is a 1976-2003 mid-engine sports car manufactured by the British small series manufacturer Lotus. Throughout its nearly thirty -year model history, he was offered in several versions with different naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. The basic shape of the body remained unchanged, but has been modernized over the years and was told several times a facelift. The successor to Lotus Evora (Project Eagle) was introduced in late 2008 and is commercially available since 2009.

The Lotus Esprit was built for the European market until 2002, for the United States until 2003. The latter are recognized externally from the centrally positioned dual exhaust. In the summer of 2003 Lotus ceased production of the Esprit after 28 years of construction and about 10,500 units had been built. After that, the Lotus Elise / Exige was the last remaining model until 2006, the Europa S, and finally the successor to the Esprit, the Evora came at the beginning of 2009 to the market.

  • 3.1 models and engine

Model history

Esprit / Turbo

The first designs for the body shape of the Esprit were based on proposals by Giorgetto Giugiaro. They saw the use of the Lotus Europa very similar, though slightly larger frame. The Esprit was launched in 1972 in Turin, but during the three years between the presentation of the prototype and the start of production of the original design was significantly improved (storage of the rear suspension with triangular stiffeners, body panels in a different form, Lotus 907 engine in light alloy with dual overhead cam ). In the motor it was the same as that which has been used since 1972 in the Jensen -Healey.

The transmission of the final version, a Citroën five-speed manual was identical with that of the Maserati Merak. The Esprit was only available with pop-up headlights during its entire production period. All models had basically no differential lock on the rear axle; thus they remained in good-natured curves and better manageable.

After the takeover of the company by General Motors of the Esprit has been thoroughly revised. That the 1987 model had more changes to the engine and technology compared to its predecessor. He had now forged Mahle pistons and Garrett turbochargers produced 0.66 bar overpressure. The " Esprit HC" but still had two Dell'Orto carburettors and the differential gear unit from the Citroën SM. The engine pulled out of the lower engine speed range through good and could, unlike its predecessor, will also be moved easily in stop-and -go traffic.

Under the direction of GM the body of the Lotus was in 1988 in the second edition Esprit very smooth and round in appearance and modern than the angular shape of the first series from the 1970s. The basic shape of the body is not changed. Developed by Colin Spooner body had a drag coefficient of 0.36. The steering continued to work without power, the clutch and brake pedal demanded a firm step. This Lotus waived for reasons of manageability in the border area on a differential lock on the rear axle. The traction was but because of the mid-engine still relatively good.

The supercharged with a " Garrett T3 " turbocharger engine came from the previous model. He was still fed by two Dell'Orto twin carburettors ( DHLA 45M ). The vote of such a system was expensive and complicated, but if you adjust it well (leave ) could, the Esprit Turbo sprinted faster to 200 km / h than a Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 (even without a catalytic converter).

An air conditioner or a leather interior cost charge, but a pop-top removable part of the standard equipment.

Esprit V8

As of 1996, there was also a new design, consisting of the newly developed 3.5 - liter twin-turbo V8 engine ( Lotus 918 engine) with 32 valves, a power of 260 kW ( 354 hp ) and a maximum torque of 400 Nm scooped. The " Esprit V8" was the first and only lotus with eight-cylinder engine, while the most powerful version in the Esprit series and accelerated as fast as the same time expensive Porsche 993 Carrera. Nevertheless, the model sold rather slow, for which there were several reasons. Firstly, the Esprit was a sports car with a very flat, only about 1.12 m height. Also surcharge no automatic transmission was available, also fit no two golf bags in the trunk. Thus, the car was no longer attractive to the American market.

The models with eight-cylinder engine were referred to 1998 as a V8, then with a facelift of the dashboard as GT and SE, the SE equipment was the most significant (Series: leather, air conditioning, radio, rear spoiler, and others). A limited edition of 50 copies of 350 Sport Special Edition 1999, the program added. This was the fastest and most powerful ever built model of the Lotus Esprit series. The interior of the 350 Sport was simplified; so lacking as an air conditioner. This model was only available in silver, the engine was painted blue and the instrument panel was decorated with carbon. The car weighed less by the use of lighter components from the GT / SE Series models about 25/80 kg. The engine remained unchanged, the driving performance were thus only marginally better. The SE Esprit models received with the appearance of the 350 Sport and other GT- wit from the 2000 model year, the stronger 330 -mm AP braking system of the 350 Sport model, which is recognizable by the perforated brake discs. For the last model year 2002/ 03 held outside round tail lights and the front spoiler lip in turn from the 350 sport model collection. Interior has been slightly changed the leather interior.


Initially, the Esprit did not have the hoped-for success, among other things, due to the weak performance ( the factory preset values ​​specified, 0-100 km / h in 6,8 s and 222 km / h, were unrealistic ). However, a second series (S2 ) was presented in 1978. On the occasion of the Geneva Motor Show 1980 Lotus introduced a version with a supercharged engine in front, the Turbo Esprit, which was equipped with the 2.2 -liter version of the Sechzehnventilers Lotus 907. This engine, which was developed for the Sunbeam Lotus, could reach a maximum output of 154 kW thanks to its turbocharger from Garrett.

In the same year another Esprit, even this 2.2 - liter engine, but without turbocharger, presented the "S 2.2" sources said. This engine was modified several times in the version with turbo charging and built up to the year 1996 when the Esprit V8 was introduced. After that there was only a smaller version of the four- cylinder used so far as an alternative to the new 3.5 - liter eight- cylinder V- engine. The latter had from then on only 2.0 liters and was an entry model GT3 to 1999 in the program.

Although the 0.75- bar turbo charged engine of Esprit V8 was very powerful, but had some design drawbacks. On the one abandoned at Lotus on a charge air cooler. The engine would have done so well over 295 kW - but that would not have endured to weakly dimensioned transmission, he also spent at full throttle a lot of gas.


The base model 1980 published " S2.2 " could accelerate in 6.7 s according to factory specifications from 0 to 96 km / h ( 0-60 mph), the sportier version Turbo Esprit s should do it in 5.6. These values ​​were, however, almost never achieved in reality; only in 1988 tested Esprit Turbo actually managed 5.6 seconds and 251 km / h. This acceleration values ​​changed only slightly until the appearance of Esprit V8 in 1996, because until then always the same 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbo was installed. Even the Esprit S4s from 1995 still had the same engine, even if it now to 224 kW ( 305 hp ) was strengthened performance. The S4s needed for the sprint from 0 to 100 km / h 5,2 s still in the test and ran 272 km / h

Only the Esprit V8 could substantially improve these values ​​with its output of 260 kW ( 354 hp). This model accelerated in only 4.7 s from 0 to 100 km / h, the maximum was 282 km / h The round on the small track in Hockenheim took in a test of sports car 1.17,9 minutes. Only the top model, the " 350 Sport" could surpass these values ​​; with 4.4 s. 0 to 100 km / h and a record time of 1.15,3 minutes at Hockenheim and a lap time of 8:13 minutes for the Nordschleife However, the speed did not change compared to the normal Esprit V8.

Models and engine

The Esprit in the media ( selection)

The Lotus Esprit was known primarily for his role as James Bond car in the films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977 ), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and for his appearances in the films Pretty Woman (1990 ), Filofax - I am you and you are nothing (1990 ), Teen Agent - If looks could kill ( 1991) and Basic Instinct ( 1992). Moreover, there was in the early 1990s, a very successful computer game series ( Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge ), mainly to the wit ( in the second part - " Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 " - also the Elan SE and in the third part - " Lotus III: the Ultimate Challenge " - additionally the prototype M200 ) turned, whereby the Lotus Esprit again gained recognition.