Auto blogTue, 21 Jan 2014 17:00:00 EST
Seeing a model as long-lived as the Lotus Esprit evolve over time generally requires some clever photography or graphical work, kind of like this. This video doesn't require any of that trickery, though, because it features every single model year of Espirt in one glorious row of awesome British cars.
Taken at the 2013 Lotus Festival at Brands Hatch in the UK, it features Esprits from 1976 all the way to its last model year in 2004. It really puts into perspective the slow evolution of the mid-engined, wedge-shaped Lotus, as it went from a very 1970s design to something decidedly more modern.
We've got the full video below, which starts with a red 1976 model, travels down the line to a silver 2004 Esprit, and then all the way back to the original. Take a look, and let us know what you think.
The Lotus F1 team has fallen on some hard times. Majority-owned by investment firm Genii Capital and having little to do with the British automaker with which it shares its name, the Enstone-based outfit has been widely reported to be in serious financial trouble. The extent of those difficulties were until now unknown, but a new report from Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reveals that the team is in the red to the tune of £114 million - equivalent to $186 million at today's conversion rates.
The lack in cashflow is widely believed to have been the impetus for Kimi Raikkonen's departure from the team in order to return to cash-rich Ferrari, and was one of the major factors in selecting Pastor Maldonado to replace him instead of a more proven and accomplished driver of Raikkonen's caliber. Maldonado brings with him major sponsorship funds from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. In speaking with the German publication, however, Lotus F1 chairman (and Genii co-founder) Gerald Lopez revealed that the lion's share of the team's debt - £80 million or $130 million - is with Genii Capital itself, a negative balance that isn't likely to affect the team's day to day. That leaves about $56 million which the team owes to outside parties, including Raikkonen, who has yet to receive the full pay he was contracted for.
The team has opted to sit out the first test session of the Formula One season at Jerez. Its 2014 chassis isn't ready and, given the relatively cold temperatures at this point in the year, the team wouldn't expect to learn much about tire performance and degradation. As far as the new engine goes, Lopez says that any knowledge gleaned by Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham at the test session will ultimately be shared with Renault and through it back to Lotus as well. Lotus engineers helped develop the new KERS system with Renault regardless, so the team already has the energy-recovery data it needs. The team will instead prepare for the second test session in Bahrain, by which point it aims to have its new car ready to kick off the season. Lopez says that it has secured the funding to offset its costs for the season ahead, and that it is working to pay down its debt.
Well, this isn't exactly what we were expecting. The images you see above come from Motorcycle News in the UK and are apparently official renderings of what the upcoming Lotus C-01 motorcycle will look like. As you can see, it's sort of a power cruiser, with a raked-out front end and extremely wide rubber out back.
Power will reportedly come from a liquid-cooled V-twin engine sourced from KTM, similar to the one used in the Austrian's brand's own RC8R, but tuned to produce around 200 horsepower. It appears that the powertrain and all its related necessities will be housed in a carbon fiber monocoque (whether the bodywork serves as a stressed member or not, we can't say) in a traditional-looking black (really, exposed carbon fiber weave) and yellow color scheme.
From the looks of these renderings, the C-01 might be intended as a competitor for the Ducati Diavel and ought to be very quick in a straight line. We're not so sure that's what a motorcycle wearing the Lotus badge should be, even if its builders are only using the marque's name under license, but we're looking forward to seeing the final result in production trim.
Some things just don't make sense. But then we're not sure they really have to. Imagine Porsche took the Cayman, which is essentially the coupe version of the Boxster, and turned it into a convertible. Wouldn't make much sense, would it? Well that's essentially what Lotus did with the creation of the Exige S Roadster.
The Exige, you see, was already the fixed-roof version of the Elise. So what was the point in turning it back into a roadster? That's what our friends at XCar tried to ascertain in the video below. We could tell you what conclusion they arrived at, but that would spoil all the fun. So we'll just let you enjoy the seven-minute clip and see for yourself. Just remember: it doesn't have to make sense. It just has to be a Lotus.
Back in June, Lotus announced it was getting into the motorcycle business. Or, we should say, Kodewa and the Holzer Group are getting into the motorcycle business, and have acquired the rights to use the Lotus name. One way or another, we're now receiving word on some of the specs we can expect from the prototype dubbed C-01.
The Lotus motorcycle is being designed by Daniel Simon, the automotive futurist who has penned, among other things, the light-cycles for Tron: Legacy and the livery on the LMP2 racer Kodewa also fields under the Lotus name. So you know it's going to look pretty awesome, but what will make it go?
According to Visor Down, the C-01 is being tested with a V-twin engine sourced from an undisclosed supplier that produces 170 horsepower in stock trim but has been tuned to produce nearly 200 hp in Lotus trim. A pair of prototypes - one with carbon-fiber bodywork and one without - have already undergone several thousand kilometers of testing, and are said to be handling "very well."
Sort of like an automotive big box store, Superformance is rapidly becoming the destination for anyone interested in modern kit cars. Besides the normal spattering of Shelby Cobra replicars, Superformance also offers replicas of the GT40 and Corvette Grand Sport. Now, we can add an altogether different type of DIY car to the company's portfolio - Caterham.
Superformance has just been announced as the new US distributor for Caterham Cars, effectively adding the entire suite of Lotus variants to the company's catalog. While there will be a large variety of models available, according to Caterham the mix will skew toward more powerful offerings. As much as we like the affordable appeal of a Seven 160 or Roadsport, simply having the wildly powerful 620 R or Superlight R500 available in the US is a good thing for enthusiasts.
"In the last two years, Caterham has significantly broadened its reach internationally and signing a new official distributor in the form of Superformance in America is a natural extension of how our brand is expanding, rapidly, across the globe," Caterham Group CEO Graham Macdonald said. Read more in the press release below.
The team currently known as Lotus has had a long string of accomplished drivers behind the wheel, including world champions like Nelson Piquet, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. But Kimi is returning to Ferrari next season, leaving a big question mark over who would fill his seat. And now we have our answer.
Lotus has just announced that it has signed Pastor Maldonado to partner with Romain Grosjean for next season. The surprise winner of the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix has been driving for Williams for the past three seasons, signed after he won the GP2 title in 2010. Though lauded as an emerging talent, Maldonado is clearly not the accomplished champion Raikkonen is, however Lotus apparently needs the money which Maldonado brings with him in the form of sponsorship from the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean, also a former GP2 champion, has been with the team for some time now, starting as its test driver in 2008, promoted for one season to the race seat in 2009, and returning again in 2012. He's been the second driver at Lotus ever since, achieving career-best second-place finishes at the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix and 2013 United States Grand Prix. Whether it will be Grosjean (who gets the higher number) or Maldonado that emerges as the dominant force at Lotus remains to be seen. Scroll down for the complete press release.
Troubled British automaker Lotus is getting a second infusion of cash following a 100-million-pound ($161.5-million) investment by its parent company DRB-Hicom that was made in August. The substantially smaller investment, a mere 10 million pounds ($16.2 million), comes from the British government's Regional Growth Fund.
The fund, which is part of a 3-billion-pound ($4.8-billion) fund to spur economic growth in the UK, will allow Lotus to invest even further in research and development as it seeks to reinvent its lineup of lightweight sports cars. The fund will also allow the UK-based outfit to provide further training for its new crop of employees.
"This grant is part of a wider strategy for Lotus created to ensure we thrive and grow. We are responding to increased global demand for our cars and engineering consultancy services and this grant will help to position Lotus as the forefront of global automotive innovation," said Aslam Farikullah (shown above with UK Business Secretary Vince Cable MP), the chief operating officer at Lotus.
If you want to take a Lotus to the track but the Exige V6 Cup is a bit too much to handle, the boys from Hethel have a new offering that may be of interest.
The new Elise S Cup R features all the track-tuned bells and whistles of its six-cylinder brethren, including a competition-spec aero kit, adjustable suspension, Yokohama racing slicks on 17-inch forged alloys, tow hooks, remapped ECU, cross-drilled and ventilated disc brakes and an interior with a HANS-compatible bucket seat, six-point racing harness and quick-release steering wheel. But instead of a heavier and more powerful V6, the Elise S Cup R "adds lightness" with the same 1.8-liter supercharged inline-four with 217 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque as the road-going Elise S. Yet with all that track-tuned gear, it's a good four seconds per three-mile lap faster than the showroom stock version in the automaker's testing.
Interested parties can pick one up in the UK for £39,125 (before taxes, equivalent to about $63k) and either lap it to their hearts' content at private track days or enter it in one of the dozen Lotus Cup series operating around the world. Lotus only released this one photo (click above to enlarge), but you can check out the full specs in the press release below.
Formula One drivers keep themselves in peak physical condition, such are the demands placed on them in order to do what they do. But otherworldly as their capabilities may be, they're still human, and that means they get injured or sick just like the rest of us.
Case in point: Kimi Raikkonen and the announcement made today by Lotus that he'll have to sit out the rest of the season in order to undergo back surgery. That means Lotus will have to find a replacement driver for the last two races in Austin and Brazil while Kimi has and recovers from the operation.
Though we wouldn't debate the legitimacy of Kimi's condition or the necessity to rectify it, the timing is sure to raise some eyebrows. Raikkonen has been at the center of a pay dispute with Lotus, and while the situation was reportedly resolved, his decision to undergo what is said to be elective surgery at this point in the season (as opposed to waiting until its end) raises some questions as to his commitment to the team he is leaving and his team's financial commitments to him in turn.