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Lotus Esprit Coupe engines, drive and performance

1984 - 2003 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

Original 1976 cars have a 2.2 engine (known as the 904) which produces just 160 bhp. A turbocharger was added in 1980, taking Esprit’s performance up to 210 bhp, a top speed of 140 mph and a 0-60 time of just 5.6 seconds. The Turbo SE (1989) was the model that propelled the Esprit into the supercar league, with 264 bhp on tap, a 0-60 time of just 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 164 mph.

The 3.5 litre V8 had been rumoured for years, but finally appeared in 1998 with 350 bhp, a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 171 mph. GT 3 (1996-2000) had a 2.0-litre 240 bhp unit and was much cheaper to buy and run. The Sport 300 took the power up to 300 bhp – the limit of the gearbox.

Later cars handle the best and benefited from years of development work and fine-tuning from the world’s best automotive fine-tuners. Sharp steering, slick gearchange and responsive brakes. Always entertaining, absolutely amazing handling and grip; early cars are a lot more twitchy. More than a handful in wet conditions The ride is a good compromise between sport and comfort.