In the past, the iconic British carmaker, Lotus, was known for its high-performance attributes, its sleek and sexy styling, and its association with the James Bond 007 movie series (as well as films like Pretty Woman and Basic Instinct). But in recent years, the brand had gone by the wayside, becoming neglected, and even forgotten within a pool of competitors including such names as Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin. But all of that is about to change. It appears that Lotus, with CEO Dany Bahar at its helm, is on the cusp of staging a turnaround of epic proportions over the next three to four years.
To kick off this kind of initiative, Lotus hosted a star-studded, red carpet unveiling of its near-future line-up at a $17 million mansion overlooking the City of Angels. The private residence was not only an architectural wonder of modern design, it was the perfect venue for letting 300 or so VIPs get first glimpse of five exotic cars poised to take the high-end performance world by storm: Esprit, Elan, Elite, Elise and Eterne.
Among the celebrators were Demi Moore, the Baldwin Brothers (yes, all four of them), Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction), Grey Damon (True Blood), Ione Skye (Say Anything), Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar), Nicollette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives), Olivia Munn (Ironman 2), Perry Farrell (Musician), Peter Gallagher (Burlesque), Taryn Manning (Hawaii Five-0), Vanna White (Wheel of Fortune), Adam Rodriguez (CSI Miami) and more. Alec Baldwin and his siblings were given the honor of introducing the new Lotus models to the tinseltown crowd. To boot, Bahar presented a Laser Blue Lotus Evora as a donation to the Baldwin Foundation. Later in the night the vehicle was auctioned off — with the money raised to be given to a charity focus on the fight of breast cancer — a disease which Carolyn Baldwin, mother of the Baldwin boys, recently overcame.
Each of the five new cars redefines the Lotus brand while retaining the carmaker’s core philosophies of high power, low weight, track handling prowess, avante garde design and state-of-the-art technology. To that end, each of the five new cars also has its own purpose and personality. This is how Lotus describes each:
Esprit (two-seater, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive)
The Icon is Back: The most eagerly anticipated Lotus makes its return. Without doubt, this is the car that the true Lotus aficionados have been waiting for: The ultimate Lotus.
Our take: A very sexy two-seater that touts modern day supercar cues seen on the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Elan (two-seater (optional 2+2), mid-engined, rear-wheel drive)
The End of Compromise: As the old saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. In the past, we were educated to believe we can’t have it all. But that was the past. Today’s driver demands more and the Elan delivers.
Our take: The rear-drive wonder promises to deliver dynamics for both road and track.
Elite (2+2 seater, front-mid-engined, rear-wheel drive)
A New British Expression of Exclusivity: Look up elegant in the dictionary and you’ll find variations on the following — 1. dignified grace in appearance, movement, or behavior, 2. superb taste in design, style and 3. something elegant; the ultimate refinement.
Our take: This super coupe with retractable hardtop will give the R8 Spider a run for its money. Aside from its head-turning outer show, the Elite touts a very dramatic interior design.
Elise (two-seater, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive)
The Grown Up” Oh yes, here it is! There’s still room for the Elise at Lotus but what a difference a decade or two makes. The Elise due for release in 2015 is a sexy, agile beast of a car. Finally the Elise comes of age.
Our take: The Elise is all grown up, inside and out. What really caught our eye was the central console structure and the shifter design. Both elements are very sophisticated and unique.
Eterne (four-seater, front-mid-engined, rear-wheel drive — all-wheel drive is optional)
The Statement of Intent: Enter the Eterne, the four-door super saloon. If the Elite is elegance incarnate then the Eterne is elegance redefined.
Our take: A classic super saloon blending elegance with sport. If there’s a car that will directly compete with the Porsche Panamera, this is the one.
Beyond the five new cars, let’s not forget the existing Evora, which will remain a stablemate to the revamped lineup. Employing a 2+2 seating design, the Lotus Evora is a livable super lightweight sports car which carries over Lotus’ famous driving dynamics, as well.
And if you think the models alone are not enough to revitalize Lotus, the brand has also invited legendary auto executive Bob Lutz to join its advisory board. As Lotus’ wingman, Mr. Lutz will help the company steer itself in the right direction as it begins this ambitious transformation.
Prices for the new models will range from about $50,000 for the Elise to $180,000 for the Eterne. The new Lotus models are everything the brand offered in its heyday, but more. Agent 007 would no doubt be proud.