Lotus will soon phase out its Elise, Exige and Evora and replace them in 2022 with a new series of sports cars, the first of which has been spotted in test-mule form.
The first of the new sports cars, code-named the Type 131, will be revealed in prototype form later this year though production won't start until 2022. This means we're likely to see it arrive as a 2023 model.
At least two others are planned, and all of them are expected to reach the United States.
2023 Lotus Type 131 sports car test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
The test mule wears a makeshift Evora body but we can see that the wheel arches front and rear have been extended significantly, pointing to a widened track.
The platform will be a heavily revised version of the extruded and bonded aluminum platform that dates back to the original Elise launched in 1996. Key changes will include thinner door sills to make getting in and out of the car easier, as well as support for hybrid powertrains.
At least one of the new sports cars will be powered by the same Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V-6 used in the Evora and Exige, but augmented with a hybrid system (likely a mild-hybrid system). The engine produces up to 430 hp in some current Lotus cars, so with electrification we could be looking at something closer to 500 hp.
Lotus Evija with new series of sports cars
It's too early to talk pricing but Phil Popham, in one of his last interviews at Lotus CEO, hinted at a price range for the new sports cars spanning from about $75,000 to $150,000. The sole Lotus currently sold in the U.S. is the Evora which starts just under $100,000.
The new sports car range is expected to be the last Lotus cars fitted with internal-combustion engines. The automaker is already geared up to start production of the battery-electric Evija hypercar this year, and Lotus in January said it will jointly develop an electric sports car with France's Alpine. The company is also known to be working on an SUV that will most likely be based on a dedicated EV platform borrowed from Geely. The SUV will be built at a plant in Wuhan, China, with Lotus keeping its U.K. production for sports cars only.
Not surprisingly, Lotus' new CEO, Matt Windle, worked with Tesla for a handful of years on developing the original Roadster, which was based on a donor Lotus chassis.