For decades Lotus has stood by the philosophy of its founder, Colin Chapman, of performance though low weight. Not surprisingly, the automaker’s lineup has been comprised mostly of lightweight roadsters designed for the race track and pretty much nothing else.

But in a world where increased sales and growing profits are the most desired end goals, Lotus will be abandoning Chapman’s original philosophy and going after the performance/luxury market. Targeting the likes of Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari, Lotus is calling its transition the “dawn of a new era” and plans to show us something very different to usual assortment of light weight track cars at this October’s 2010 Paris Auto Show.

All new Lotus models will be designed with more upmarket customers in mind, the new philosophy being ‘tomorrow’s luxury sports car, today’. With its new plans in place, Lotus hopes to be profitable within the next five years--something that hasn’t happened since the brand was sold to Malaysia’s Proton back in 1996.

Pricing will be much higher than what Lotus currently charges for but the cars will be packed with advanced technologies including seven-speed dual clutch transmissions, active aerodynamics, continuously variable dampers, hybrid and range extender systems, heads up displays, and the option of more alternatively-fuelled variants.

Despite prices going up, Lotus also expects sales to increase, up from the current 2,000 to 2,500 cars per year to somewhere around 7,000. This is because Lotus also plans to launch an affordable minicar, which will share a platform with a similar model from Proton.

One of the first new models Lotus plans to launch is a replacement for the Esprit supercar, something we could see in preview form at the upcoming Paris event.

[Autocar]