Power compact

With Lotus' uncertain future, it could not have justified the development of the new V8 engine if it were to be used only in the low volume (around 500 per year) Esprit. No, Lotus has much bigger commercial hopes for the unit. It also shared much of the development cost by an innovative cooperation investment programme with key suppliers.

Completely new and unrelated to the late 70s/early '80s V8 engine that was essentially two of the Lotus slant fours joined together, the new unit is all-aluminium in construction. From drawing board to production took just 27 months. It meets all foreseeable future legislation on emissions, drive-by noise and on-board diagnosis. This latter legislation is American and demands that the engine must be warrantied to stay within the required emissions standard for 100,000 miles and any failure to do so must be flagged up by warning lights inside the car.

The achievement of producing such an up to-the-minute design in so short a space of time is just the sort of thing Lotus wishes to advertise to the car industry at large. But as well as showing such capability, it would also like to sell this particular design to outside clients too. Accordingly it has been designed so that it's a relatively simple matter to convert it to a normally-aspirated four-litre V8, an in-line four, a V4 or a V6. It features a very low front end, making it ideal for front-drive, low bonnet installations. Even in V8 form, incidentally, it's compact enough to fit in a Mondeo!

Lotus has the capability of producing 5,000 of these engines per year. If it gets the opportunity to do so, it would go a long way to ensuring that the Lotus name means more than just a glorious past.