You know sometimes movies start off strong with a great start, a fabulous middle part but they disappointingly fizzle out at the end? I sometimes feel shortchanged especially after a good premise, the movie only delivers a tiny little pop as a finale. It seems Lotus, after previewing five concept cars at the recent Paris Motor Show, are only seriously about working on one of them. The people at Hethel had spoken to Autocar recently about the fact that Lotus is only focusing their attention on the new Lotus Esprit for a 2013 launch at the moment and the other concept models are just concepts showing a complete line-up that will hopefully be produced by the manufacturer soon. The question would now be how soon is soon after all that fanfare in Paris. An anti-climax you say? If it were a movie, I'd want my money back. Could be. But it is pretty good marketing. Get everyone worked up at first, get the prospectus up and fiery and it will eventually culminate in generating some current sales too. Note that Lotus announced more luxury, less on the 'lightness' and therefore a price hike meaning that the affordable Lotus you want is now or never. And now that the brouhaha has passed, CEO Dany Bahar has insisted that even though the concept cars target a more luxurious market, which demands luxuries that will no doubt add heaviness instead of that Lotus 'Just Add Lightness' principle, the new Esprit will still retain all the traditional lightness as well as the simplistic nature of what Lotus is known for. So how light is the new Esprit you ask? About 1,495kg (3296lbs). Compare this with a Ferrari 458 Italia and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570 (-the latest LP570-4 Blancpain Edition pictured above) which weighs 1,380kg (3,042kg) and 1,430kg (3,153lbs) and you know it loses the lightness contest with its two main contenders in the Top Trumps weight category. Lotus' engineers are still insisting that it's lighter than cars in its class. Now what other car aside from the two mentioned above has got me quite baffled. Since the Italian terrors are the main competition in terms of engine capacity, size and price. But I suppose it is lighter in terms of price. The new Esprit should enter the market priced at around £120,000. Compare this with the £160,000+ for both the 458 as well as the Gallardo and you have a price champion then. So the new Esprit is cheaper. A good thing yes? But at over £100,000 it isn't exactly a bargain in the first place. Value for money maybe. But part of the Lotus' business plan for the future is that they intend to increase annual sales of around 2,700 units of sub£40,000 cars to between 6,000 and 7,000 units of cars costing between £80,000 and £120,000. So you could kiss goodbye to that £27,000 entry level Elise you've been yearning for come 2013 onwards. However there could be one good thing when the new business plan comes through. The new Elise, Elan, Elite and the Esprit bar the 4 door Eterne all look the same from the front three quarter angle. So technically if you spend about £35,000 for a 2015 Elise (a good £7,000 more than what a base Elise costs today), you may receive the same compliment as the £120,000 Esprit. More so if the person needs prescription glasses or has had a little too much to drink. Take a good look the Elise pictured above and the Esprit pictured below it. Or did I post the pictures the other way round then? No. I didn't even post a picture of the Elise. The photo below is the Elise. The one above the Esprit is the Elan concept car. Anyway, if you bought the new Elise, Elan or an Elite and someone comes up to you and says that you have a nice 'Esprit' it is a good thing. It'll make your day in fact. But if you had a 2013 Esprit and someone said “Nice Elise” to you, you may feel as if someone kicked you right in the groin. And your £120,000 Esprit seems a tad too pricey then. Unless Lotus suddenly realizes that their latest concept cars look like clone troopers and does a revamp on the design this is a future that one can expect if you buy a Lotus. I hope they do come around and realize that their current crop of Elise/Exige, Europa and Evora are very recognizable as Lotuses but each car has their individual characteristics that the concept cars do not. You will never confuse this: With this: Even if they have similar characteristics. This is what Lotus needs to learn how to do again; coming out with models that are recognizable to the brand but you can tell that the models are not the same car in slightly different sizes. It would make better viewing then. Like a movie with a totally fantastic ending. The End.
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