Lotus’ near future: roomier daily driver, mid-engine hybrid, SUV

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Lotus has another sports car in the works, with a reveal planned for later this year or early next. It could be the second piece of the puzzle former Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales spoke of to Automotive News in 2018, saying parent company Geely “has approved three new models: Two sports cars and the third an SUV.” The last new serial production car the English carmaker introduced was the Evora in 2009, the penultimate model in a four-car lineup in the UK that includes the Exige and Elise below, the Evija battery-electric hypercar above. Automotive News Europe writes that the coming sports car will be an “entry-level model” and “provide enough interior space for everyday use,” based on an interview with new automaker CEO Phil Popham. Entry-level doesn’t mean least expensive, though, rather a price range from £55,000 to £100,000, which is $68,000 to $123,670 in our money.

Those figures would be entry-level here in the U.S., where the sole Lotus is the Evora GT and costs $96,950 before destination. In the UK, the Elise Sport 220 is priced at £41,655, the Elise Cup 250 at £49,555. For reference, a Porsche 718 Cayman begins at £44,790 over there, a Jaguar F-Type at £54,510. 

The second sports car referenced a couple years ago isn’t the Evija, if we can believe last month’s report from Autocar. The magazine wrote there’s a mid-engined hybrid coupe supposedly evoking the Esprit on the way, scheduled for debut the first half of next year. It will slot in above the Evora, which starts at £85,900 in GT410 Sport guise in the UK, and produce more than 500 horsepower with help from a mid-mounted Toyota-sourced V6. 

Back to that entry-level car, the most surprising news is when AN writes it is “destined to be the company’s last combustion-engine model.” That begs the question, what happened to the SUV? Patent images of a Lotus people-hauler leaked in 2017, in 2018 the carmaker said the SUV would hit the market by 2022, and in the middle of last year spy shooters caught what we thought to be a Lotus SUV mule hidden under bodywork of Geely’s Lync & Co 01. The AN piece mentioned that “Future options could also include SUV or sporting sedan, according to Popham.” But if AN has it right about internal combustion engines, the SUV will be a surprise showing before the entry-level sports car, or will be electric. 

And what would the end of ICE-powered models do to the chances of the lightweight revival models Lotus fans want? When we asked a Lotus engineer about 3-Eleven (pictured) earlier this month, he told Autoblog, “There is room for it, but we have so many things to do that we’re already committed to.” We would not be surprised to see this issue revised to describing the last non-hybrid model.

For now, growth is the imperative, which is why the more affordable model with more room. The carmaker’s adding onto its Hethel, England, factory to increase capacity, aiming to expand sales to 5,000 units per year, up from the current 1,600 or so.

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Saurabh Shukla

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