While the future Elise may be seen as early as 2011, of more interest is the flagship Esprit successor, which EVO is reporting could come with an optional V10 engine sourced from Lexus. While there has been no confirmation of such a move, Lotus CEO Mike Kimberley has revealed in the past that the car is being developed with “a very well respected prestige carmaker.”
Many predicted that BMW would supply one of its V8 engines for the new Esprit but Lotus' close ties with Toyota, from which it already sources a number of powerplants, could see advanced Lexus engines used instead. The 500hp (373kW) V10 engine, which is set to debut in the Lexus LF-A supercar next year, would likely be reserved for a range-topping model, while a mid-spec model would get the IS-F’s 420hp (312kW) V8 and an entry-level model would pick up a 300hp (225kW) version of the 3.5L Toyota V6 from the Evora.
To keep costs down and speed up its gestation, the new Esprit will likely share its chassis with the bonded and extruded aluminum unit underpinning the Evora. Rising development costs and changing requirements, however, have reportedly pushed back the original 2010 release date to 2012. The extra time, however, will allow for both coupe and convertible models - Lotus had originally planned to launch a hard-top only - as well as a possible ‘alternative’ model.