Lotus Might Source Volvo’s Twincharged Engines; Esprit Successor Coming in 2020


Lotus Esprit S1 1977

For Lotus, life has been good under Geely. The British automaker is finally turning a profit again and now has access to more resources by way of its Chinese parent company. Presently, the brand only offers the light-and-nimble Evora for sale in the United States. But its global fleet isn’t exactly huge, either.

However, the plan calls for Lotus to expand through the introduction of a crossover vehicle, an entirely new sports car, and a rumored successor to the Esprit. The CUV, nearing the final stages of development, should take advantage of the Geely-owned Volvo SPA architecture (which underpins the XC60, among others). Lotus is also expected to adopt powertains from its kindred companies, which could include electrified units from Polestar and Volvo’s twincharged applications.

It’s unlikely the brand will set any horsepower records, which is fine (as that isn’t Lotus’ style), but the new motors should do the trick. Besides, who wouldn’t want to brag that their sports car is turbocharged and supercharged? 

Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales anticipates the flagship coupe will arrive in 2020, according to a report from Autocar. He claims the vehicle will be lighter than the Evora, which sits at 3,179 lbs in its heaviest configuration, and decidedly more lavish. Basically a new Esprit, Gales said the car’s formula is “efficiency, aerodynamics, agility and braking working together in balance.”

Still, defeating the Evora GT430 in terms of performance and plushness will be a difficult task if Lotus also wants to keep the weight down. To best it, the new model should output similar numbers or better. Fortunately, Volvo already has motors that could do the job. The electrified, supercharged, and turbocharged T8 hybrid already makes 400 horsepower wedged inside the XC90. There’s an even burlier four-cylinder hybrid making its way into the Polestar 1, too. Both of these could be engineered to suit Lotus’ needs and deliver a vehicle that’s economical when it needs to be and raucous the rest of the time.

Gales said Lotus would probably adopt powertrains from other divisions within Geely, but intendeds to stick with Toyota-sourced units for the immediate future. The smallest of those is the 1.6-liter 1ZR-FAE residing in the base Elise, whereas the biggest is the 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6 housed in the center of the aforementioned Evora GT430.

“Crossovers can be hybrid or full electric,” said Gales. “There are some years left for combustion engines in sports cars, but maybe a mild hybrid would work.” The only downside we see with electrification is weight. If Lotus wants to keep its vehicles light, adding a battery pack isn’t the way to go. So, a mild-hybrid system may be as deep as the company is willing to dive into electrification for vehicles that need to keep a trimmer waist.

The CEO did say Lotus is open to using fully electric powertrains once the technology evolves.