The mid-engined Esprit was designed as a replacement, although larger,
faster and more specialised, for the Europa, which had been Lotus's
first mid-engined, rear-drive road car. As with the Europa, the Esprit
was a two-seater and it was fitted with Lotus's own newly designed
16-valve twin cam 2.00-litre engine positioned behind the cabin.
A fibreglass body covered the separate chassis that was fitted with
independent front and rear suspension. The more rounded X180 shape was
the product of in-house stylists and it continued from 1987 with only
slight modifications to the end of the century.
In turbocharged SE form, the revised Esprit was capable of 256km/h
when powered by its four-cylinder, twin overhead camshaft engine
developing 160kW. It was fitted with two horizontal twin-choke Dellorte
Over its lifetime a variety of Esprit turbos were built, some in
rather limited qualities, including a 225kW version which proved very
popular. Due to a demand for even more performance, in 1996 the Lotus
3.5-litre V8 engine developing 260kW and capable of pushing the car to a
top speed of 288km/h was finally introduced.
The Esprit was in every way a true sports car with the accent on
performance rather than comfort. The cabin only accommodated two people
of average build, luggage space was small and noise levels were higher
than average. Its handling was exemplary and body styling certainly
matched its performance.
By the end of the 1990s sales of the Esprit had slowed dramatically.
But there was still a sufficient number of drivers who would not trade
its nimbleness, small size and undoubted appeal for any other make or