Overview & Reviews
Founded in Britain, Lotus is very much a specialty outfit, with output limited to high-performance racecars and sports cars known for their sleek and lightweight designs. Though its cars are prized by enthusiasts seeking maximum handling performance, Lotus has never been particularly keen on sales volume, and it rarely has more than one or two models for sale at a time.
The marque was founded by racing enthusiast Anthony Colin Chapman. The first Lotus was built in 1948, and used by Chapman to compete in races. By 1955, Chapman had officially formed Lotus Cars Ltd. A company milestone was reached two years later with the unveiling of the innovative Lotus Elite. This remarkably light coupe owed its featherweight status to its fiberglass unibody construction. Though the use of fiberglass for a car's body wasn't unique, the Elite was the first vehicle to use this material both in its skeleton and its skin. The resultant weight savings helped the Elite to distinguish itself at Le Mans and other notable races around the world.
The 1960s saw Lotus expanding its line with the addition of the Elan. First available as a roadster, the car offered a twin-cam engine, four-wheel disc brakes and a four-wheel independent suspension. Hardtop versions were later offered. By 1967, Lotus had added the Elan Plus 2 to its lineup. Dubbed Lotus' first family car, the Plus 2 was just as sporty as the Elan, but more practical thanks to a bigger cabin and the addition of two jump seats.
Lotus discontinued the Elite in 1972, but the name was revived in 1974. The new Elite was a four-passenger model with a 160-horsepower engine. Two years later, the Lotus family grew yet again, with the addition of the Esprit. The two-seat sports car continued Lotus' ethos of lightweight design, and it was instantly recognizable due to its distinctive wedge-shaped exterior and appearance in two James Bond movies.
Movie stardom aside, this was not a good decade for Lotus. The brand's vehicles had evolved significantly since the first Elite cruised off showroom floors. But Lotus cars of the 1970s were bigger and more expensive than their predecessors, and the brand had muscled its way into a segment populated by the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. Lotus cars were now premium-priced exotics; unfortunately for the brand, this segment saw a dramatic fall-off in demand in the wake of that era's fuel crisis. As a result, the niche-market automaker suffered significant losses.
In 1986, General Motors took full control of Lotus and created Lotus Cars USA in 1987. That relationship lasted until 1993, when GM sold Lotus to Bugatti. Bugatti's ownership was even shorter; Lotus was sold to a Malaysian firm in 1996. The same year, Lotus began producing the flyweight Elise, a car that would quickly become the company's main product and financial savior. The Elise was finally imported to North America in 2004 after safety and emissions considerations were overcome.
Today, Lotus remains true to Chapman's original desire of producing lightweight and race-oriented sports cars. With tight cabin accommodations, a stiff ride and minimal comfort and storage features, modern Lotus cars make poor grocery-getters. But for the enthusiast looking for world-class handling, sporty style and an unfiltered connection between car and driver at a reasonable price, the Lotus brand is hard to beat.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 139.00
Nothing else even similar - 2005 Lotus Elise
By Jerry - November 30 - 4:10 pm
This car is such a total departure from any other street car that Im shocked it made it to production, much less DOT and EPA certified. The car is so light, rigid, and responsive to input that the driving experience is simply not comparable to driving anything else. The noise and ride arent as harsh as you would expect and the driving position and seats are excellent. 30+ mpg. Terrible radio and alarm. There is a rattle in the gear box the dealer says is not normal but they wont do anything about it. Fit and finish are pretty good for a low production hand built car requiring unconventional materials and manufacturing processes.
Handles great - 2005 Lotus Elise
By Tom - November 20 - 1:56 am
Tired of feeling like you are driving your living room sofa around? This car handles great and gives more sense in being in control of the driving situation than any car I have ever owned. You feel connected to the road, and the ride is not bone jarring. The car can go from 0-60 in under 5 seconds and still get over 30 mpg on the highway.
The Ultimate Rush - 2006 Lotus Elise
By CC - November 18 - 12:23 am
This car is amazing, BMW calls their cars the "Ultimate Driving Machines" but this car truly is, no other car comes close. I bought this car to drive to and from the track, and on weekends. After owning a 1986 BMW 3-series track car, two highly modified VW GTI VR6s, a 2000 Audi S4 with over 400hp, and a 2003 Mini cooper S, and I currently own a 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe as a daily driver, and Ive driven several Porsche 911s, but the Lotus is bar-none the most exciting sportscar Ive ever owned. I race shifter karts, and it seems like thats the only type of machine anyone will ever out-handle an Elise in! Plenty quick stock but Forcedfed 275 turbo kit is going in when the warranty runs out.
Anything less than the best is a felony - 2002 Lotus Esprit
By Behnchaud - November 14 - 10:00 am
By far the best car in the world. why anyone would say otherwise is beyond me.
the best - 2005 Lotus Elise
By Bla Bla - November 5 - 10:00 am
Best riding car around
Ridiculous handling, awesome reliability - 2005 Lotus Elise
By Leno - October 29 - 6:13 am
Unless you have track driven much more expensive world class sportscars you can in no way begin to appreciate the value of this car. Amazingly is doesnt grow uncomfortable, and the Toyota drivetrain is bulletproof, proven, durable, servicable, and torquey. No downshifts required. And the exhaust note is second to none. Im not sure how they get that throaty roar from a 4 cyl, even my M3 with a Remus didnt sound this good! Dont know why I got the MP3 player, Id rather listen to the engine. Rides suprisingly well, road noise not bad. No buffeting at any speeds with the top off. No room for storage but who needs it, and this much fun is reserved for small people, or youll bump shoulders.
Italian flair meets British panache - 2002 Lotus Esprit
By mikel - October 8 - 2:00 am
The Esprit is an icon among exotic sportscars. Its limited production numbes ensure exclusivity and first rate personal support from the manafacturer. It has fantastic looks, and is now very reliable which is significant in this car class, second only to the NSX I would say. The car has superb handling which requires some getting used to as its uncluttered by electronic traction control gizmos. It can easily out perform the NSX, 911. Against the Ferrari 360 its a close affair. It is surprising comfortable on long journeys although getting in and out can be cumbersome. So for returning your videos you might want something else. Then again its worth the trip !
Purple lotus - 2001 Lotus Esprit
By icccceeeee - August 6 - 1:26 am
This is my 2nd Esprit, I LOVE these cars, a blast to drive and own ... but you have to WANT to drive them. They are not for the meek or shy. Maintenance is a must but is not close to other exotic cars.
Lotus Love - 2002 Lotus Esprit
By egomes - July 9 - 10:00 am
Amazing car! I own an 891/2Esprit SE and it is perfect in MY opinion.
First 1200 miles - 2006 Lotus Elise
By Lee - June 30 - 8:10 pm
I own 10 vehicles, including a 2003 360 Ferrari, 2005 Ford GT, 427 Shelby Cobra 1965 kit car, 1999 911 Porsche cab. Each car has strengths but the Lotus is a hoot to drive on a shoestring. My model is a Sport with a sport muffler. The power is good but takes higher RPM to get performance; the flickability of the car is outstanding. Gas mileage (who cares) is high 20s. The sport muffler is too loud in my view but sounds aggressive. My dealer has been awesome.