Saturday 16 June 2012
The Esprit V8 used Lotus' self-developed all-aluminum, twin-turbocharged (Garrett T3/60 turbos) 90-degree V-8, Code-named Type 918, in front of the same Renault transmission as before with no Chargecooler. Derek Bell developed an uprated gearbox that overcame a lot of the gearbox problems with a much thicker single piece input shaft. The Type 918 engine was detuned from a potential 500 bhp to 350 bhp (261 kW; 355 PS) to prevent gearbox damage due to the fragility of the Renault UN-1 transmission. In period tests, zero to sixty miles per hour came in at 4.4 seconds and top speeds of over 175 mph were achieved. Early Type 918 engines built between 1997 to 2000 are noted to suffer from a leaking cylinder liner problem due to a breakdown in the liner sealant if the engine overheats, resulting in water leaking into the cylinders and ending up in the sump. After extensive testing, this problem was rectified with a change of sealant type from Loctite 572 to Hylomar 3400, although some owners still reported sporadic leaking cylinder liners.
Alongside V8 models was produced the GT3, a turbocharged four-cylinder car with the type 920 2.0 L chargecooled and turbocharged engine which had been used only in Italian market cars previously.
In 1998 the V8 range was split into SE and GT specifications, both cars with a much changed interior configuration, both offering similar performance with the SE being the more luxurious of the two.
The ultimate incarnation of the Esprit came in 1999 with the Sport 350. Only 50 were made, each offering 350 horsepower (as per the name) and various engine, chassis and braking improvements, like the addition of AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs and a revised ECU. Several visual changes were made as well, including the addition of a large carbon fiber rear wing on aluminium uprights in place of the standard fibreglass rear wing. By this time the Esprit could reach 60 mph (100 km/h) in 4.3 seconds as well as reaching 0-100 in 10.1 seconds, and weighed 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) as a result of many modifications.
Esprit production temporarily ceased in 2004 with Lotus content on producing the Esprit with little development aside from minor cosmetic changes including a switch to four round tail lights for the 2002 model year. Currently, after 28 years, a total of 10,675 Esprits have been produced and a new version is slated to make an appearance nine years after the last one rolled off the assembly line at Hethel in February 2004.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 3500 cc
- horsepower: 355 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 245 km/h