Only 114 Esprits were sold in the United States during 2000, according to Automotive News, but the long-lived mid-engine sports car continues into 2001 with no changes. Based in England, Lotus has a formidable reputation for engineering innovation and claiming racing victories. Despite its British heritage, Lotus is no longer independent or even totally British. A majority interest in the company is owned by Proton, the national auto company of Malaysia.
Several changes were made for 2000, including a recalibrated electronic control module, upgraded AP Racing brake discs and calipers, body-color accents on the center control and door panels, and the addition of a body-color rear license panel.
In addition to forking over $85,225 for an Esprit, the buyer will again have to pay a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax. About 40 dealerships in the United States and Canada handle Lotus sports cars. Lotus racing victories include one triumph at the Indianapolis 500 and a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans event.
Lotus describes the composite body of the Esprit as a complex mix of sharp edges and subtle curves. The famed Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the low-slung, wedge-shaped styling for the rear-drive Esprit. Functional air scoops cool the cars brakes, and an attention-grabbing wing perches atop the rear deck. A front valence with winglets sits ahead of the front wheel arches. At 172 inches overall on a 96-inch wheelbase, the Esprit is a few inches shorter than the Ferrari 360 Modena. Tires measure 17-inches in diameter in the front and 18 inches at the rear on six-spoke alloy wheels. Lotus uses a fully independent suspension for the Esprit.
Serious sports car fans expect a snug two-place interior, and thats precisely what they get in the Esprit, which is tight for anyone taller than 6 feet this is no surprise as the car stands 45.3 inches tall. Hand-finished leather upholstery, power windows, central locking, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry with an anti-theft system and a multispeaker Alpine CD stereo are standard, but cruise control is not available. Options include a glass roof panel, OZ three-piece racing wheels and customer-selected paint.
Under the Hood
Designed and built by Lotus and breathing with the assistance of twin turbochargers, the mid-mounted 3.5-liter V-8 engine generates 350 horsepower. Mounted behind the seats and ahead of the rear axle, the engine mates with a five-speed-manual transmission. Lotus claims that an Esprit can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in a swift 4.5 seconds, topping out at 175 mph. Also used by AC Cars in England, the V-8 engine has been in production for five years, and Lotus said it intends to keep the V-8 around for two decades.
Dual front airbags and antilock brakes are standard.