The Esprit started life in 1972 as a Giorgetto Giugiaro (Ital Design) shape study exhibited at the Turin motor show. After a relatively long and financially difficult gestation period the Type 79 Esprit S1 was finally delivered to customers in 1976. The Esprit is a two seater, mid engined car with a fiberglass/kevlar body sitting on a backbone chassis.

Continual development over 28 years resulted in several re styles. The main re style was the reduction in straight edges and the increase in cabin size by Peter Stevens. Julian Thompson & Russell Carr later carried out additional 'rounding' of the Esprit shape. However, all body shapes are recognisably linked to the prototype shown in 1972.

As well as styling changes Lotus introduced increasingly more powerful and larger engines to power the car. It started out with what is generally considered to be an under powered 2.0 litre 160bhp engine (type 907). An increase in capacity to 2.2 litre (type 912) gave much needed torque, but it was the introduction of the turbo charged engine (type 910) and it's 210bhp that finally gave the Esprit the performance to match it's looks. Further changes to the 2.2 litre engine saw the use of General Motor's engine management electronics & an intercooler to push the power up to just over 300 bhp. Finally after several false starts, Lotus developed and installed their own V8 (type 918) into the Esprit. This twin turbo V8 gave 350bhp and was the engine used up to 2004 when Esprit production ceased.

By the time production ceased in 2004, 10675 Esprit had been produced. The best production year was 1988 where 1058 Peter Steven's re styled Esprit's were sold.

Major Milestones
1972 Giorgetto Giugiaro's shape study exhibited at the Turin motor show.
1976 Esprit S1 delivered to customers. Appeal strengthened by it's placement as James Bond's car/submarine.
1980 Turbo Esprit introduced. Performance now matches it's looks.
1987 Peter Stevens re styling results in the X180 Turbo and N/A cars. Sales increase dramatically.
1989 Esprit SE utilises GM Engine Management & chargecooler putting the Esprit into the super car league.
1993 Sport 300 track biased car. Based on the race series winning US X180 racing car.
1995 Esprit S4S deemed by many to be the best handling Esprit.
1996 Esprit finally gets a V8. In this case the V8 has twin turbos and provides 350bhp.
1999 Sport 350 track biased car is highest performing Esprit. Less weight and increased torque gives a sub 10 second 0-100mph figure.
2004 Esprit ceases production.
2010 Will there be a new Esprit??????
Information Sources
The best source for Esprit information is Lotus Esprit World (see link below).

The best Esprit discussion forum is Lotus Esprit Forum (see link below).

Other good sources of information are:

'Lotus Esprit - The Official Story' book by Jeremy Walton (ISBN 1-902351-24-X)
'Lotus Esprit - The Complete Story' book by Jeremy Walton (ISBN 1-86126-066-0)
'The Lotus Book' book by William Taylor (ISBN 1-902351-00-2)
'Lotus Since the 70s' book by Graham Robson (ISBN 0-947981-69-1)
'Lotus the Legend' book by David Hodges (ISBN 0-75252-074-1)
Please see below for the Esprit's statistics. Please note that the source of the performance data is sometimes official Lotus Cars data and sometimes independent magazine review data. I have not included 'special edition' cars as these are generally based on the current standard model with a different paint colour and/or trim option.

Name Production Years Max. Power bhp Max. Torque lb.ft Top Speed mph 0-60mph sec Comment
S1 1976-1977 160@6200rpm 140@4900rpm 124 8.4s 2.0l mid engined, Citroen 5 speed gear box.
S2 1978-1980 160@6200rpm 140@4900rpm 135 8.0s Improved engine cooling.
S2.2 1980-1981 160@6500rpm 160@5000rpm 134 6.7s As the S2 but with a larger 2.2l engine giving an additional 20 lb.ft torque. Galvanized chassis introduced.
Turbo Esprit 1980-1987 210@6250rpm 200@4500rpm 148 5.5s Improved chassis and performance to match the looks.
S3 1981-1987 160@6500rpm 160@5000rpm 135 6.5s Based on Turbo Esprit chassis.
Turbo Esprit HC 1986-1987 215@6250rpm 220@4250rpm 152 5.3s Increased compression gives additional 5bhp and 20lb.ft torque
Esprit N/A 1987-1990 172@6500rpm 163@5000rpm 138 6.5s Stevens re style, additional 12bhp and Renault 5 speed gear box.
Esprit Turbo (X180) 1987-1990 215@6000rpm 220@4250rpm 152 5.6s . Stevens re style and Renault 5 speed gear box
Esprit Turbo SE 1989-1993 264@6500rpm 261@3900rpm 163 4.7s GM ECU and intercooler increase performance massively.
Esprit Turbo S 1990-1991 228@6500rpm 218@4000rpm 158 4.8s Bosch ECU but no intercooler.
Sport 300 1993-1994 302@6400rpm 287@4400rpm 168 4.7s Track biased car. Probably the most collectible Esprit.
S4 1993-1996 264@6500rpm 261@3900rpm 165 4.7s Thompson re style and power steering added.
S4S 1995-1996 285@6500rpm 290@3600rpm 168 4.6s Near Sport 300 performance with S4 ride quality. Great handling.
V8 1996-1998 353@6500rpm 295@4250rpm 175 4.8s V8 twin turbo adds power, but also adds weight. Engine power/torque is limited due to gear box weakness.
GT3 1996-1998 240@6250rpm 216@3750rpm 164 5.1s Intercooled 2l engine used for environmental and vehicle tax reasons.
V8 SE 1998-2002 353@6500rpm 295@4250rpm 175 4.8s Luxury V8 model sold along side more focused V8 GT.
V8 GT 1998-2002 353@6500rpm 295@4250rpm 170 4.8s Lighter body weight and modified ECU. Speed limited to 170mph.
Sport 350 1999-2000 353@6500rpm 295@4250rpm 175 4.3s Track biased, light weight and increased torque in lower rev range.
2002 V8 2002-2004 353@6500rpm 295@4250rpm 175 4.8s Russell Carr re style with Elise rear lights and Sport 350 front lip spoiler



The Icon Is Back

The most eagerly anticipated Lotus makes its return. Without doubt, this is the car that the true Lotus aficionados have been waiting for: The ultimate Lotus.

The new Esprit represents the very essence of exclusive supercar driving. It picks up and exceeds the legacy of it’s forefathers. Think of it as a statement of superiority. Think of it as Lotus CEO Dany Bahar’s personal statement of intent, his vision for the future of Lotus.

Dany Bahar, Chief Executive Officer of Group Lotus, said: “The Esprit is the ultimate supercar. In the past when people thought of the Esprit, they thought of the movies, Bond, Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct but this time around, the car is the star of the show.”

“One has to be very careful when taking on the challenge of reinventing such an iconic classic as the Esprit – everyone has an opinion. There’s a fine balance between acknowledging the greatness of the past whilst at the same time rapidly leaping forward to the future and ensuring that this car not only does the name Esprit justice but also the Lotus brand. I think we’ve managed to find the balance and in doing so created a new icon, a car people will find hard to resist.”

“Not only does the Esprit look incredible but it has the performance to match. We’ve stuck to the Lotus core values of performance through lightweight and teamed them with future technology and exceptional engineering to ensure that the Esprit will be the leader of the pack. The design is aggressive, you have to see it to appreciate how low and wide the proportions are but it still retains a level of dignity, of class and most of all exclusivity. I’m very proud of this car.”

Powered by a 5.0 litre V8 pressure charged engine delivering up to 620 PS, the Esprit retains exceptional performance through it’s unique lightweight design making it the ultimate expression of Lotus supercar ownership. It is the supercar that will redefine ride and handling, performance, comfort and exclusivity.

The styling of the Esprit echoes the performance with strong lines throughout the sleek low body. The symmetry through the mass and proportion of the Esprit give it an intense look, it’s the perfect example of the new Lotus DNA in action.

The Esprit is more than an evolution, it’s a redefinition.
Esprit Specification
Layout 2 seater, mid-engined, rear wheel drive
Engine Petrol, hybrid optional
Hybrid technology Optional KERS
Cylinder V8
Capacity 5.0 litre
Power/Torque 620 PS / 720 Nm
Rev limit 8,500 rpm
0-100 km/h 3.4 seconds
Top speed 330 km/h
CO2 approx (CO2/km) 250 g/km**
Weight 1,450 kg
Seats 2
Transmission 7 Speed DCT
Drive RWD
Start of production End of 2012
Enters the market Spring 2013
Price indication Circa £110,000
**Using optional hybrid technolgy


Text copied from Club Lotus website