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Spy shot: Lotus Esprit

No, you haven’t picked up a Seventies back issue. Those cut and shut panel inserts, mangled wheel-arches, deep fat fryer-vents and Exige-alike wing confirm that this is a prototype of Lotus’s Esprit replacement.

Due to enter production in early 2008, the new model is referred to as a ‘super sports car’ by insiders. The concept is faithful to the 1976 original, with a mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels, wedgy shape, and lightweight construction to keep the weight down.

It’s bigger, which will make the cockpit far more spacious. The car is not certain to be called Esprit, with Hethel leaning towards a new E-name to represent this all-new project.

Under that familiar bodywork is all-new VVA chassis – a network of ultra-light, ultra-stiff extruded aluminium chassis members, cold cured and riveted together. By foregoing baking, the new car will be quick for the company’s skilled Norfolk workforce to assemble.

Thanks to the Versatile Vehicle Architecture, performance will be ‘phenomenal,’ vow insiders. The new car may weigh less than the 1,380kg original.

When coupled with a V8 engine, acceleration will be sensational. Lotus has struck an engine deal with BMW, according to the industry grapevine. Its 362bhp 4.8-litre bent eight will be massaged to produce a minimum of 400bhp, with twin turbos cranking the power closer to 500bhp.

The Esprit replacement will echo its predecessor’s famous wedgy shape

Cold cured and riveted extruded aluminium chassis for lightness

Will likely run BMW’s 4.8-litre V8, with 400bhp for starters and at least 500bhp for the new generation Turbo Esprit

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