Lotus Espirit V8 Coupe 1996 - 2001

Lotus Espirit V8 Coupe 1996 - 2001

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Cheaper and more economical than other real supercars
  • Great vintage styling
  • Exceptional handling and dynamics

Cons:

  • Expensive to run

Overview

The Lotus Esprit has been around for 28 years. Despite its steady selling price, only 10,000 units have been made. This has made the Esprit one of the rarest supercars available at a reasonable price. Some may question whether the Esprit is actually a supercar, but we think it is, even when it comes with the smaller 4-cylinder engine.

Exterior and Interior

The original wedge-shaped Lotus Esprit was designed by Italdesign in mid 1970s. It featured excessively angular lines and an aggressive front end. Since 1976 it has undergone several redesigns, the most substantial of which happened in 1987 and was carried out by the famous Peter Stevens, the creator of the McLaren F1 road car and the MG XPower supercar. The Esprit received a rounded shape, a more sophisticated rear end and an impressive front spoiler. A consecutive redesign happened in 1993 and was lead by Julian Thompson. Visually the car didn’t change a lot. The Lotus of the 1990s is mostly famous for featuring power steering for the first time and introducing a long-awaited V8 engine. The Esprit is a beautiful car and it is designed to look like a proper supercar. It was in the same league with Ferraris and Venturis and still remains a coveted purchase for supercar enthusiasts. The cabin design hasn’t changed a lot since early 1980s. It is great quality and features some really interesting shapes. The Esprit is in a time-warp, but you don’t really mind it because it takes your breath away… quite literary because it takes a lot of effort to get inside. The car is very low so you just have to take a leap of faith and hope you land in a correct position. Once you’re in you can appreciate the vintage design and the comfort, which is a balance between sporty style and ease of use (with a bias towards the former).

Performance and Economy

The car has grown during the years. Initially it was quite rough and unrefined. Having undergone countless redesigns and improvements, the mid-90s Esprit is an accomplished car with all the necessary characteristics that a supercar should possess. It is rarely taken too seriously because of its 4-cylinder engine, however, if you consider 240bhp, 5.1 seconds to 60mph and 164mph max speed, it is good as it is. Of course, it lacks the aggressive purring of a Ferrari. This is why people demanded a V8 and eventually the Lotus succumbed to the pressure. The V8 unit was introduced in 1996. Although it didn’t add a lot in terms of acceleration and top speed (4.5 seconds from zero to 60mph and 175mph max speed), the car was already accepted as a proper supercar and it sounded much better. Compared to a Ferrari with similar dynamics, the Lotus Esprit fares better in terms of economy. The Italian monster can never do better than 15mpg. The Esprit delivers 22mpg with a 4-cylinder engine and 21mpg with the V8, making it as accessible a supercar than it possibly can. The Lotus Esprit is a pop idol having been featured in films like The Spy Who Loved Me and Pretty Woman. Getting one might be much cheaper than buying a Ferrari, but when it comes to maintenance and repair costs, the supercars don’t differ too much.

Like to Drive

It’s a fine-tuned and balanced car with superb handling and dizzying acceleration. The sporty suspension may be rather hard, but it still provides the basic comfort for everyday use. The car is very confident at high speeds and capable of taking high-speed corners with grace and dignity. What makes it awkward around the city is the huge low front spoiler. The Lotus doesn’t do speed bumps so be careful!

Faults and Repairs

The Lotus Esprit is not a reliable car. After all it’s just a toy. The turbo booster is a very fragile part and it will have to be repaired or replaced sooner or later. Other problem spots include the suspension and steering system. Lotuses can only be serviced by knowledgeable specialists. No DIY servicing or run of the mill mechanics should be used on the Esprit, if you do, you will pay the price at a later date.


Overall Rating:
Review by Guest
Monday, May 16, 2016

Overview

"Low and fun"

Exterior and Interior

The body is fiberglass so there will be no rust to contend with, but can get chipped on the underside from small stones thrown up. The interior is small but very comfortable although not if you are above average height in which case you might not even fit in the car. The interior is half leather and with the sun roof taking up most of the roof, very light. Above all though, the exterior styling looks great and still turns heads.

Performance and Economy

The economy is better than I thought it would be for a sports car like this and is 23mpg. Being a light car the performance is good and still surprises me sometimes.

Like to Drive

Lovely to drive although sometimes the car seems alive – the steering is unlike any other car I've driven as the wheels will sometimes follow small ruts in the road and you are always making small corrections to keep the car going where you want it to go. <

Faults and Repairs

It's a nuts and bolts car and things go wrong. I've replaced the clutch, head gasket, water pump, radiator, a hose or two on the engine. The parts aren't too hard to find. For a car this age though it is in very good condition.
Quality
Performance
Comfort
Value