- lotus will soon discontinue the elise, exige, and evora sports cars.
- a new model, code-named type 131, is coming soon to replace these cars.
- it will likely have a hybrid drivetrain, as the company's ceo has said it will be the last lotus with a combustion engine.
we’ve known that lotus was working hard behind the scenes for some time, but now the british brand has announced that its entire existing lineup is going to die this year, with a new sports car due to replace them in 2021.
lotus insiders have already revealed a fair amount about this new car. we know it will be based on an evolved version of the bonded aluminum architecture that underpins the soon-to-retire models, and company ceo phil popham has also told us that it will be considerably more usable than the cars it will replace. but now we also know the code name it is being developed under: type 131.
after years of few sales, lotus was acquired by chinese auto giant geely in 2017, which ordered work to begin on several new models. the only one of these we have already seen is the forthcoming evija ev hypercar, but we know that at least one of the others is an suv, which we believe will be built in china. the type 131 will replace the existing elise, exige and evora when it goes on sale (of these, only the evora is currently available in the ‘states). popham told us that the plan is to make a car with the everyday viability of rivals such as the porsche cayman.
we don’t know what powertrain the new car will use, although it will likely need a hybridized powerplant in at least some markets, likely one based on the toyota v6 of the existing evora. popham has admitted that it will be lotus’s last new model with a combustion engine. work on the ev sports-car platform that will be sold alongside it—and will ultimately replace it—has already begun. renault subsidiary alpine has recently announced a deal with lotus to use the same architecture for its own next-gen electric sports car.
the need to replace the entirety of lotus’s sports car lineup means the production version of the 131 is likely to get lower entry-level pricing than the current evora gt, which starts at $99,150. if popham is serious about creating a genuine alternative to a well-equipped porsche cayman, then a starting price around $75,000 would seem a reasonable ambition. the type 131 will inevitably gain one of lotus’s traditional "e" names for production; might this be a suitable excuse to bring back the esprit badge?