Lotus Esprit 5th Generation
|1993 to 2004|
|Engine||2.0 L type 920 turbo I4 2.2 L type 910S turbo I4 3.5 L type 918 turbo V8|
|Wheelbase||2002–04: 95.3 in (2,421 mm) 1993–2001: 96.0 in (2,438 mm)|
|Length||1993–95 & 1999–2004 172.0 in (4,369 mm) 1996–98: 173.8 in (4,415 mm)|
|Width||1993–95 & 1999–2001: 73.5 in (1,867 mm) 1996–98 & 2002–04: 74.1 in (1,882 mm)|
|Height||45.3 in (1,151 mm)|
In 1993, another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. The exterior redesign was done by Julian Thompson, which included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear decklid. Other major changes were to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and valence panels. New five spoke alloy wheels were also included in the redesign. The S4 retained the same horsepower as the SE at 264 hp (197 kW).
The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4s (S4 sport), which upped power to 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) and 290 lb·ft (393 N·m) of torque, improving all-around performance while retaining the comfort of the previous version. Top speed was increased to 168 mph (270 km/h), skidpad increased to 0.91g, an increased slalom of 61.7 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Although the engine kept its 2.2-litre capacity, many modifications were added to improve engine performance. Some of the changes were enlarged inlet ports, cylinder head modifications, a re-calibrated ECM and a revised turbocharger. The most visible external styling changes was the addition of a larger rear wing taken from the Sport 300.
This car was to be the end of the line for the Esprit but a cancelled project for a front engine car had left Lotus with a compact V8 and no car to put it into.
In 1996 the Esprit V8 used Lotus' self-developed all-aluminum, twin-turbocharged (Garrett T3/60 turbos) 90-degree V-8, Code-named Type 918, in front of the same Renault transmission as before with no Chargecooler. Derek Bell developed an uprated gearbox that overcame a lot of the gearbox problems with a much thicker single piece input shaft. The Type 918 engine was detuned from a potential 500 bhp (373 kW; 507 PS) to 350 bhp (261 kW; 355 PS) to prevent gearbox damage due to the fragility of the Renault UN-1 transmission. In period tests, zero to sixty miles per hour came in at 4.4 seconds and top speeds of over 175 mph (282 km/h) were achieved.
Alongside V8 models was produced the GT3, a turbocharged four-cylinder car with the type 920 2.0 L chargecooled and turbocharged engine which had been used only in Italian market cars previously.
In 1998 the V8 range was split into SE and GT specifications, both cars with a much changed interior configuration, both offering similar performance with the SE being the more luxurious of the two.
The ultimate incarnation of the Esprit came in 1999 with the Sport 350. Only 50 were made, each offering 350 horsepower (per the name) and various engine, chassis and braking improvements, like the addition of AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs and a revised ECU. Several visual changes were made as well, including the addition of a large carbon fiber rear wing on aluminium uprights in place of the standard fibreglass rear wing. By this time the Esprit could reach 60 mph (100 km/h) in 4.3 seconds as well as reaching 0-100 in 10.1 seconds, and weighed 1,300 kg (2,866 lb) as a result of many modifications.
Esprit production temporarily ceased in 2004 with Lotus content on producing the Esprit with little development aside from minor cosmetic changes including a switch to four round tail lights for the 2002 model year. Currently, after 28 years, a total of 10,675 Esprits have been produced and a new version is slated to make an appearance nine years after the last one rolled off the assembly line at Hethel in February 2004.
- Esprit S4 – 1993–96
- Esprit 300 Sport – 1993
- Esprit S4s – 1995–96
- Esprit V8 – 1996–98
- Esprit GT3 – 1996–99
- Esprit V8 GT – 1998–2001
- Esprit V8 SE – 1998–2001
- Esprit Sport 350 – 1999
- Esprit V8 – 2002–04