Before the Paris Motor Show gets under way, Lotus gave the media a sneak peek of its new Lotus Elite concept. The roadster is something of a departure from the carmaker’s mission of making relatively affordable, ultralight and sporty handlers. The Elite aims to be more livable and therefore more accessible to the car-buying public than the British carmaker’s current lineup by being more luxurious, stylish and comfortable.
The Elite is a 2+2 roadster with a retractable hardtop. The concept’s estimated dimensions would make it leaps and bounds bigger than the Elise, Evora and Exige, so it should be roomier for its occupants than current Lotuses.
The Elite is powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 producing an estimated 611 horsepower. A hybrid option will be available, Lotus says. That sort of power will accelerate the roadster from zero to 60 mph in the sub-4-second area.
All of this sounds great so far, doesn’t it? But some elements of the Elite may cause some concern for die-hard Lotus fans. The front midengine layout strays from Lotus’ midengine designs. It also weighs more than any current Lotus, and the estimated $145,000-$150,000 price tag would put the Elite in a whole other category in the marketplace compared with the $50,000-$80,000 price tags that Lotuses carry today.
Many may see the curb weight, engine layout and price as an affront to everything a Lotus is supposed to be: an ultralight purist’s sports car – but the company didn’t make this decision carelessly. “There will always be those who believe that Lotus should stick to small sports cars,” company CEO Dany Bahar said, “but we didn’t take the decision to design something new like the Elite lightly.”
While this is only a concept, Lotus is pretty excited about bringing something close to the Elite to production by as early as spring 2014.
If built, the Elite would arguably be the first hospitable Lotus in recent memory, but it remains to be seen if car buyers are looking for these attributes in a Lotus.
For detailed specs and photos, continue reading after the jump.