Lotus Esprit

In 1988 a new version of the Esprit was introduced, incorporating rounder styling cues given by designer Peter Stevens of McLaren F1 fame. Giugiaro is said to have liked the restyling, claiming it was perhaps too close to his original design. The first Stevens styled cars were mechanically identical to their previous year counterparts, with Turbo and N/A variants available, though quickly a stronger Renault transaxle was used, as well as Delco GMP4 EFI. The exterior style changes were accompanied by a freshening of the interior. The Stevens styled Esprit is collectively known as the X180.

The Esprit was again improved with the addition of a water to air intercooler known as the chargecooler producing the SE. Horsepower was pushed up to 264 with 280 available on overboost, and zero to sixty times reduced to an amazing 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of over 160 mph. The chargecooled engine was known as the type 910 S. Modifications to the body kit are also noted. Again the Esprit continued to keep a small or nonexistent gap between itself and competition from rivals such as Ferrari and Porsche.


Along with the SE, Lotus produced the little seen Esprit S, a midrange turbocharged car offering fewer appointments and 228 hp, as well as the standard turbo still offering 215 hp. The N/A and turbo were cancelled after 1990, and the S in 1991.

Esprit SEs were in the films Basic Instinct and Pretty Woman.

The Esprit was a popular and successful addition to the American Bridgestone Supercar Championship and as a result Lotus produced the SE-based X180R, with horsepower bumped to 300 and with racing appointments. The Sport 300 was a derivative of the X180R sold in Europe. These are known as the fastest of the 4 cylinder Esprits and among the most desirable.

In 1993 another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. This car was succeeded in 1995 by the S4s, which upped power to 300 bhp while retaining the comfort of the S4. This car was to be the end of the line for the Esprit but a cancelled project for a front engine car had left Lotus with a compact V8 and no car to put it into.

Scribbled on January 12th 2009 in Lotus, Lotus Esprit
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