For Lotus fans, the next few years should prove to be very interesting as the company pushes ahead with its five-year plan to update its model lineup, including successors to the Elise and Esprit. Sales of the Evora are going strong, and we’re about to see the unveiling of a new supercharged model and an automatic, and in addition to this work on the new Elise and Esprit is already well underway at the company’s Hethel engineering center in the UK.

While there are few details on the replacement for the Elise, the successor to the legendary Esprit supercar has been confirmed for an unveiling--at least in concept form--at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, which kicks off on September 30.

The new Lotus supercar is expected to be a much more premium offering than its predecessor, taking the Lotus brand to the lofty heights of the automotive world dominated by the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini. In keeping with this positioning, the car will need a powertrain as exotic as those found in its potential rivals.

Lotus' cryptic '1975' Esprit teaser image

Lotus' cryptic '1975' Esprit teaser image

Fortunately for Lotus, its ties with Lexus means there’s the possibility that the 552 horsepower 4.8-liter V-10 engine from the LFA may feature in the Esprit successor. In fact, reports of the possibility date back more than a year.

The high-rev engine is expected to feature in a highly exclusive ‘flagship’ version of the new Lotus supercar, while more mainstream models will get a less powerful V-8 engine, possibly the 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 unit from the Lexus IS-F sports sedan.

To keep costs down and speed up its gestation, the Esprit successor 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 ‘green’ model.

[Inside Line]