SOME THINGS in life don’t make a lotta sense. But it’d be boringwithout ’em. The 1987 Lotus Turbo Esprit is an example. This luxurytwo-seater is so impractical, it could run for political office and win.
Sit in this car. Yo! How low can you go? The Lotus rides so close tothe ground, it oughtta come with a periscope.
And that cabin. It’s a leather womb. Glove-soft Connolly leather, atthat. The kind used in Rolls-Royces. Truly sensuous. But don’t get anyideas. The Lotus’ gearshift console’s a barrier between you and yourcompanion, the automotive version of a chaperone.
But, hey, the Lotus is for driving, right? You betcha.
Crank up that 2.2-liter, 16-valve, 4-cylinder, turbocharged,mid-placed engine. Feel that? Harummmm, harummm, harummm, harummm. Verynice, gentle vibrations. Now, clutch and shift. Ooohwheee! Whoosh!
Is there a need for this? No, no, no. But who behind the wheel ofthis car gives a hoot about needs? Humph. Needs ain’t never been morefun than wants. And if it’s high-priced fun you want, you want this one.
Complaints: Poverty. It’s a buzzard, ain’t it?
Nahh, really. My only complaints about the Lotus are not complaintsat all for sports-car lovers. Sports cars are supposed to be low riders.Their cabins usually are cramped, as is the cabin of the Lotus. Overallvisibility isn’t terrific, but you learn to live with those kinds ofproblems just to be with this car.
Praise: This mostly handcrafted beauty is an unabashed tribute tohedonism, which has taken a bad rap lately. The Lotus is an appropriate,responsible, equal-time reply in defense of pleasure.
A single Lotus requires six weeks building time, compared withseveral hours for a mass-produced car. Thus, you can call the Lotus’building time excessive and inefficient or you can call it painstaking.I choose the latter.
Every stitch is in place. Every seam is precisely aligned. Thecarbon-fiberglass composite body is rustproof. The hand-assembled,hand-welded chassis is tight and right, and galvanized againstcorrosion, to boot.
Head-turning quotient: Rakish, superswept, stunning body. Peoplecome out of the bushes for this one.
Ride, acceleration and handling: What’s notable here is that theLotus is not a chore to drive in the city. In fact, unlike some otherexotic sports cars, it’s quite maneuverable in heavy, low-speed traffic.The ride is hard, appropriate for a sports machine, but it’s not harsh.It doesn’t beat you up.
The aluminum-block, multi-valve engine, which is also equipped withBosch fuel-injection, kicks out 215 horsepower at 6,250 rpm. More thanenough to get you into trouble.
Sound system: Four-speaker AM/FM stereo radio and cassette byBlaupunkt. Super boogie.
Mileage: The only practical characteristic of this car: 25 to thegallon (20.1-gallon tank, 500-mile range), combined city-highway,running driver only and with climate control operating most of the time.
Price: As tested, $58,136, including a $350 delivery charge and a$795 preparation fee. Port-of-entry price is $56,991. Lotus PerformanceCar officials declined comment on the dealer-invoice price, butknowledgeable sources put that figure at about $48,000.