LOS ANGELES, CA - With the death of the long-lived Lotus Esprit V8, of which just 100 will be sold in the U.S. for 2004, Lotus plans to expand North American operations and sales for 2005 and beyond with a slew of new products.
First out of the chute is the 2005 Lotus Elise, an ultra-lightweight sports car that goes on sale in May. It adheres to company founder Colin Chapman's four basic automotive design philosophies: It is lightweight for better performance; it is fun to drive; it provides a comfortable ride and exceptional handling; it is innovative.
The first new Lotus for America since the ill-fated Elan debuted in 1990, the Elise first went on sale in Europe in 1996 becoming the best-selling car in company history and creating waiting lists of up to one year to buy what the European motoring press has labeled the best handling car in the world. Ever since, American Lotus fans have patiently awaited the car's availability in the U.S.
Weight saving is critical to the 2005 Lotus Elise's performance. The first car in history to employ a bonded and extruded aluminum chassis, the Lotus Elise's foundation weighs just 150 pounds. Covered with composite body panels and equipped with composite sport seats and extruded aluminum foot pedals, the U.S.-spec 2005 Lotus Elise weighs just 1,975 pounds.
Standard equipment for the 2005 Lotus Elise's entry price of $39,985 includes air conditioning, power windows and dual front airbags. Two option packages are available. The Touring Pack includes perforated leather upholstery, an upgraded stereo with CD and MP3 players, an interior stowage net, a double-insulated soft top, more sound deadening and full carpet for $1,350. The Sports Pack is $2,480 and has larger forged aluminum alloy wheels, a track-tuned Lotus sports suspension, and special Yokohama A048LTS tires. A body-color hardtop is offered for $1,475.
Lists are already forming at the 38 dealers that will sell the 2005 Lotus Elise because enthusiasts know pure bang-for-the-buck doesn't get much better than this.
--Photos Courtesy of Lotus cars, USA