Since 1996, the humble Lotus factory in Hethel, England, has been pumping out small sports cars at a pace all their own. It began with the Elise model in the mid 1990s, followed by the Exige in 2000 and the Evora in 2009 (serving as the only model you can purchase legally stateside in recent years). Along the way, the group’s Hethel plant also played a part in the much discussed Tesla Roadster concept. Newer versions spawned over the years, but as of this past week, all three have come to an official end.
Three the Hard Way
In actuality, the long-running sportsters were given their walking papers earlier this year—something we told you about back in January—though production continued until now. Having survived far longer than most would give them credit for, the Lotus trio remained a unique option for those looking for a driver-centric sports car they likely wouldn’t find parked next to them at their local Starbucks. In all that time, the small factory produced just 51,738 versions, along with another 10,000 cars constructed in partnerships with other manufacturers.
The very last three from the Old World won’t be offered to buyers but instead tucked away in the automaker’s own collection. They include a Sport 240 Final Edition Elise draped in yellow, a Cup 430 Final Edition Exige slathered in Racing Green, and a Dark Metallic Grey GT430 Evora.
The Last of a Dying Breed
With the three amigos now retired, Lotus aims to reconfigure its production to focus on the Emira, a vehicle we talked about over the summer, which will serve as the final gas-powered Lotus ever. Aimed at a larger audience, the new model promises to maintain Lotus’ legendary handling and inherent fun factor while including a roomier interior, improved amenities, and a more finished look and feel inside.
Power for the all-new offering will initially rely on the Toyota 3.5-liter V-6 that sat midship in the Evora, and it will come with the option of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. A slight reduction in horsepower due to stricter emissions regulations will dial power back to 400—still more than enough to scoot the lightweight two-seater into jail time speeds.
As 2022 nears summer, expect a 2.0-liter turbo I-4 built by AMG to arrive. Although peak power should sit about 40 ponies lower than that of the Toyota, its smaller packaging saves more than 100 pounds—a major achievement for an already lightweight package, and its expected eight-speed DCT is far quicker to upshift than you are.
The schedule calls for Emira production to get underway in the spring and eventual migration to U.S. customers, with pricing suggested to list at around $80,000, less than the discontinued Evora.
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