Scheduled for launch in early 2014, the Elite will go head to head with Ferraris, Porsches, Astons and Maserati as it will be priced at around £100,000. Not like the current Elises and Exiges and to some extent even the Evora. The car will be what Lotus CEO says would be “a car of perfect contradictions: compact yet spacious, high performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid." The car will come in full hard top form and also a detachable roof version. It isn't stated whether this will be a targa or a full cabriolet version as yet.
This car will be a hybrid vehicle with a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) as an option. The KERS setup will work in tandem with a forced inducted 5.0liter V8 (most probably the Toyota V8 from the Lexus LS600h with Lotus specific forced induction and tuning). The whole system will be linked to a hybrid transmission comprising two electric motors and an epicyclical gearbox from the same source. There will be a 540bhp version and a 610bhp ‘type R’ version. The press release shows no actual details on how the KERS stores energy. It could either be a flywheel or a more traditional lithium-ion battery system.
The Elite is not a small car. It is 4.6meters long and it isn’t that light too. At 1,680kg it will be the heaviest Lotus in a long time. I suppose to go luxurious, the ‘Just Add Lightness’ mantra of old has to be put away. But with the big V8, Lotus predicts a 0-100km/h time of between 3.5 to 3.7seconds and that the car will be able to hit somewhere close to 300km/h in full 610bhp version. CO2 levels are forecasted to be around 215g/km for the hybrid which is pretty good for something powered primarily by a large V8.
The styling of the Elite also deviates from the current Lotus styling, which is basically the low small mouth and cut off tail at the end pioneered by the Elise and still kept in the Evora. It now has a larger gaping mouth grille reminiscent of the latest Mazda Kodo Concept car. It also looks like…gasp… the Toyota Celica but with the stance of the Maserati GranTurismo when viewed from the side. Typing that it looks like a Maser is so much better than looking like a Celica. Not that the Celica was a bad car in the first place, but it wasn’t one that sold at £100,000. There is also a hint of Honda CRZ in the gaping mouth too.... Hmmm. A whole lot of ideas?
In targeting the ‘big boys’, Lotus must ensure that quality of the interior is up to par. At this level of pricing, every little detail counts. Going after the ‘Elite’ crowd is a good thing. The prices for a slice of pie at these levels are high, but this is where the money is.