2009 LotusEnlarge Photo
The new sports car, which mixes a sleek form with sharper sheetmetal nips and tucks, introduces more sharply creased sheetmetal, borrows some cues from the Elise but is clearly oriented toward minimizing aerodynamic turbulence, reducing the coefficient of drag, and increasing down force, and thus stability, at triple-digit speeds. The ‘cab forward’ proportions lend it a supercar silhouette, at least from this first picture. Especially of note are the air intakes alongside the rear fender flanks—a very functional yet stylish necessity for its mid-engine design.
As with the Elise, Lotus looked outside for its powertrain and technology elements. Project Eagle is powered by a modified Toyota 3.5-liter V-6 engine, mounted mid-ship and modified to produce 280 horsepower. Anti-lock braking, traction and stability controls have been developed with Bosch.
In addition to the production vehicle that the Project Eagle previews, it also shows the direction of the (very long-anticipated) new Esprit, which will follow the Project Eagle sports car in 2010. Both vehicles will use Lotus’ new Versatile Vehicle Architecture, with aluminum construction and other lightweight chassis componentry.
Inside, expect a level of interior appointments not previously seen in a product from the small-scale Britich maker, including a sweeping instrument panel with contrasting color band, aluminum inserts, leather trim with contrast stitching, aggressively bolstered sport seats, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Blue LED lighting and a heavily styled gauge cluster are also part of the package, which should serve to help push the old Esprit’s plasticky, rattle-trap interior out of memory.
Interior comforts and conveniences will include a touch-screen navigation system with hard-drive audio storage, high-end from Alpine, Bluetooth and iPod integration, and a ‘progressive’ air conditioning system—which we take as meaning adequate and effective, as opposed to those systems in several other low-volume vehicles we can think of. And if you’re still having doubts, cupholders and storage bins are also included.
Lotus says that the cargo area adjacent to the engine bay will provide space for a set of golf clubs; a two-seater with an expanded cargo compartment is also planned.
Pricing hasn’t yet been announced, but we expect the Project Eagle car—which would take on the Porsche 911—to be priced well under the $100k mark. Lotus plans to sell only 2000 per year, with deliveries beginning in Spring 2009.
Although performance figures haven’t yet been finalized either, Lotus cites a preliminary top speed of 160 mph and a 0-60 time of less than five seconds. —Bengt Halvorson