Dead: Lotus’s Entire Current Lineup

From left to right: Lotus Exige, Evora and Elise
From left to right: Lotus Exige, Evora and Elise
Photo: Lotus

It’s been more than a decade in the making, but it seems like we may finally get a new Lotus before 2021 is out. The company is putting the finishing touches on its next and last gas-powered sports car, which is planned to debut in the summer, before production ramps up in 2022. Exciting times, indeed.

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On the flip side, every Lotus currently on sale will be discontinued this year. Say farewell to the Elise, Exige and Evora — a trio that carried the British manufacturer for far longer than they were expected or deserved to. The news was confirmed in a press release today.

The Evora entered production in 2009 and is notably the only current Lotus model you can still legally purchase in the U.S. The Elise, of course, has been around much longer. The “Series 3” Elise — the latest one — emerged in 2010. Though under the slightly facelifted skin, the Series 3 is really just the second-generation Elise that harks back to 2001. Hell, it even spawned some Opel and Vauxhall variants I totally forgot about until just now.

Mind you, Lotus’ inability to move on from the Elise, Exige and Evora didn’t stem from a lack of effort. There was that time the automaker turned up to the 2010 Paris Motor Show with five proposals for new performance cars, and a very un-Lotus supermini dubbed the Ethos (or “City Car” if you look at the license plate).

At the time, Lotus was under Proton leadership, and no part of that vision of the brand’s future came to pass. Then-CEO Dany Bahar was ousted two years later, reportedly due to misusing company funds, and Proton was swallowed up by Malaysian manufacturing conglomerate DRB-Hicom.

Significantly brightened  for visibility by yours truly
Significantly brightened for visibility by yours truly
Photo: Lotus

Nothing really began to change until 2017, when Geely acquired a majority stake in Lotus. The 2,000-horsepower Evija hypercar was the first product of Lotus’ next era to break cover — you see it at the right there in the shadowy photo above — and those three shrouded cars will supposedly replace the ones leaving this year. Per the press release:

To acknowledge the forthcoming family of performance cars, Lotus has released an image that hints at the new generation of products that will follow Elise, Exige and Evora, which have entered their final year of production in 2021.

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Under one of those covers is presumably that new pure internal-combustion model, which will supposedly start at about $75,000. Lotus CEO Phil Popham has teased that this vehicle will have “a real focus on usability,” and that it’s been designed so owners “can live with it on a day-to-day basis.”

Then there’s the car mentioned in this release, codenamed Type 131. This appears to be different from the aforementioned $75,000 Lotus; Autocar seems to think the Type 131 is the spiritual successor to the Esprit, which will be powered by a V6 hybrid powertrain and begin at a “price set in the low six figures,” placing it above the Evora in the pecking order. Don’t forget about that long-rumored SUV either, which wasn’t included in this family photo op.

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Geely has grown Lotus substantially over the past four years to rise to these challenges. The British automaker reports that 670 employees have joined its ranks since it fell under new corporate ownership, and it plans to add another 250 people in the coming years. If there was ever a time for Lotus to change, it’s right now.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. 2017 Fiesta ST. Wishes NASCAR was more like Daytona USA.

DISCUSSION

I love Lotus - their philosophy (light is good!), their history (Andretti! Clark! Hakkinen! Hill! Ireland! Mansell!), and their dedication to small, flickable, sports cars. I’ve always wanted one - even the ones you can’t get in North America. Didn’t matter about the size or the age.  I’d even love to have the ugly step-sister of the company, the Europa.

All that said - I am amazed that they’re still around. They’re a hyper-niche sports car company making expensive, impractical and (I’ve heard) uncomfortable cars without the cache of Ferrari or Lamborghini.