The mid-engine Esprit is built in England by a company famous for its engineering and racing success, but Lotus is no longer a purely British company. Proton, the national car company of Malaysia, owns a majority interest in Lotus the first company to win the Indianapolis 500 with a rear-engine racecar.
Lotus has a network of 40 dealers in the United States and Canada and sells fewer than 150 cars a year in North America. The base price for a 2000 model is $85,225, plus a $1,300 gas guzzler tax.
Famous Italian designer Giugiaro did the distinctive, wedge-shaped styling. The Esprit has functional air scoops to cool the brakes and an attention-getting wing perched on the rear deck.
With an overall length of 172 inches, the Esprit is a few inches shorter than the Ferrari 360 Modena. The front wheels are 17-inch diameter, and the rears are 18-inch diameter.
Like many sports cars, the two-seat Esprit has a snug interior that is tight for occupants more than 6 feet tall. Leather upholstery, power windows and locks, and a multi-speaker stereo are among the expected amenities, but cruise control is not available.
Under the Hood
A 3.5-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers and 350 horsepower designed and built by Lotus mounts behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle. A five-speed manual transmission routs the power to the rear wheels. Lotus lists top speed as 175 miles per hour and says 60 mph comes up in just 4.4 seconds.