Buy a Lotus Esprit V8 from 1996-2003

Buy a Lotus Esprit V8 from 1996-2003

At Lotus, the Spirit embodies since 1977 and distinguished sporting GT. selection criteria that have convinced 007, even if James Bond did not have the chance to sample the V8 version of this file. The latest in a long and noble line and the most successful!

Competitive spirit


In 1977, Lotus offers a nice publicity stunt by placing his Spirit in The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. What popularize this GT, which initially had to settle for a commoner 4-cylinder 160 hp. Of course, in almost 30 years of career, there is nothing in common between the first generation of Spirit (S1) and the last (S4). The S1 now making the happiness of informed collectors, we focus on the S4, many more opportunity. In terms of style, Esprit S4 displays a smooth profile, very modern. The addition of aerodynamic appendages (spoiler with large openings, low profile box, rear wing) alters the original purity of line, but it offers a better resistance at high speed. Good, because between S1 and S4 seventies appeared in January 1993, the operator has nothing comparable. Certainly the S4 remain faithful to 2.2 4-cylinder mid-rear to distribute the best masses. But with 264 hp, obtained through the provision of a turbo, 16 valves and multipoint injection, Esprit S4 is transfigured (0 to 100 km / h in 6.2 seconds, 257 km / h in top speed). In 1995, with the S4s this block is increased to 286 hp (0 to 100 km / h in 5.6 seconds, 270 km / h max). But especially flattering performance obtained through content weight (1339 kg) fly when in 1996 Lotus Esprit transplant on a V8 350 hp. A 100% Lotus engine (the first since 1972!), Race-inspired. All alloy, this block 3.5 biturbo V8 carries the rank of supercar and puts an end to the line of Spirit in 2003.

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The chassis number (found on the registration card, of course), is stamped on a small metal plate on the front, in the compartment of the spare wheel. It is placed on the deck for supporting the windshield and partition the interior.

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Interior and equipment

This GT plays the card of luxury with its leather upholstery and often, woodwork inserts on the dashboard. In terms of equipment, the S4 offers essential with double airbags, ABS, immobilizer, air conditioning, electric windows and retro as well as power steering. Staffing is identical on S4s except leather upholstery bartered for a coating of Alcantara fragile. However, the V8, everything is standard, dual airbags and leather upholstery included. Produced by craftsmen, the Spirit has the charm but also defects. The assemblies sometimes lack rigor and are a source of nightingales. Electricity, satisfactory on S4s and V8, unsatisfactory on the older models whose S4. As for the (rare) models equipped with a moonroof they should be avoided because they let the UV, which crackled in the long dashboard and tarnished the seats.

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The technique

Chassis and body

The Spirit receives a beam chassis, light weight pledge and rigidity. It is a masterpiece, which must be in perfect original condition. Flee models have been injured and repaired other than the factory Hethel. The body is molded composite, which instead protected from corrosion. But this material plays over time, especially for models sleeping outside, which causes slight deformations. The warping The most common appear to the bonnet, subjected to high temperatures. The latter, quite heavy, fatigue very quickly the hydraulic cylinders (chronic bad). As for adjustments between the various body panels, they often lack rigor in particular door. A good point however for painting polylustrée hand, offers a nice depth. Note that for all versions, metallic paint option was billed at the time.

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Engine and transmission

S4 and S4s technically remain close, both have a 2.2 turbo presented in 1989 respectively 4-cylinder developing 264 and 286 hp. However, the Esprit V8 3.5 receives a specific block. Featuring a flat crankshaft, this racing engine completely designed by Lotus, this transforms into a GT supercar accelerates from 0 to 100 km/ h in 4.2 seconds and reaches 282 km / h top speed. Obviously, though deemed reliable, this V8 blew maintenance costs. It has a distribution double belt change every 3 years maximum (or every 50 000 km). Emptying is to be made every 15 000 km, along with the revision, with 100% synthetic oil (10W50), and it is necessary to warm it before seeking. Authentic propulsion, The Spirit is equipped as standard with a mechanical 5-speed available on all versions. Originally Renault (A610 Turbo), the cross-box, is very common and has cheap rooms! However, she resents the torque and power of the V8, resulting in risk of breakage encountered on overstretched models (most frequently in the first two reports). Although strengthened by the end of 1997, this box has often seeps into the input selector which means to check and top up the level at every service. As for the engine, let the gearbox oil warm up before moving faster reporting. Finally, clutch side, do not expect to keep over 40 000 km with as S4, S4s, a V8.

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Suspension and running gear

Lightweight for GT (1339 kg for a S4s, 1380 kg for a V8), the Spirit strongly solicits its perishable  . Tires (215/40 R 17 245/45 R 17 S4, 235/40 R 17, 285/35 R 18 on  S4s and V8) therefore represent a substantial budget. In this regard, know that a Spirit must have well settled trains, for that wear is uniform and homogeneous. Braking, Brembo signed, can cover almost 50 000 km before the first change. But the most annoying rest bearing replacement (Renault origin) to perform every 40 000 km.

Very low, the Spirit is naturally exposed to the slightest shock if a donkey approached too quickly or poorly negotiated vibrator. The worst is feared in case of violent shock  or circuit track output, because they are rapidly transformed by change of front end. And, on the V8, a half now totals € 1,802 pieces (lower wishbone, damper, anti-roll bar )! Similarly, the exhausts are not given. If for S4 and S4s, we remain in the realm of acceptable (silent 830 €, catalyst to € 1,500), with the V8 we enter another galaxy (silent to € 1,100 and € 3,600 Catalysts !). Finally, because of ground clearance, do not forget to listen over the state of bases (spoiler, skirts ) and the edge of the rims.

Steering, braking and roadholding

S4 V8 or a well regulated Spirit (geometry trains to each revision), offers a touch  road  exceptional. Like a big kart, the Spirit turns flat and square centimeter, with a precision that many modern GT could envy. If the balance of this propulsion addressed in curves at high speed is perfect, it should, however, remain cautious because everything is dropping suddenly, without warning, because the rear center position of the engine. The steering, incisive and perfectly calibrated, participates in driving pleasure, as well as braking, powerful and enduring. Road qualities above the lot that we must above all to good weight distribution, a low center of gravity, good torsional rigidity  and a low weight. In short, the Spirit has in it the genes of a true Lotus, the comfort!

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All know before buying

Reliability and maintenance costs

On the V8, change the timing belt is expensive (€ 5,000 at Lotus, including € 1,300 pieces). This perhaps will prove more accessible to a good specialist (approximately € 1,500), which do not necessarily file the engine (because you can!). The clutch two-disc, heavily used on the V8 costs € 2500 all over again, including labor, (take the opportunity to change the joints of the box). The revisions are more reasonable (small service at 500 €, great service to approximately € 1,200). perishable side, count nearly 200 € for a front tire and € 300 for a rear tire (to be changed every 15 000 km). Paradoxically, for brakes (Brembo), there are significant disparities between S4 and V8 (Disc € 270 up front and € 480 for the back of V8, 380 € to 510 € front a S4!). The trend is reversed for the budget  platelet  (480 € for the game before the V8, 210 € for S4, change every 30,000 km).

The key points The distribution by straps, to make all maximum 3 years (or every 50 000 km). delicate manual gearbox (with frequent breaks from 1st or 2nd report on overstretched models). progressive deformation of polyester body under the weather and the effects of heat (bonnet). Hydraulic cylinders of often ineffective cover (ill chronic). Adjustments between the various lax body panels (in particular door). Dashboard can crack under the effect of sunlight (versions with a sunroof).

To remember

As usual please do not buy a prices, but first a copy in perfect original condition, maintained since the beginning rigorously. As such, a nice S4 or S4s is not ruled out. But let’s be clear: even monopolizing a place in your garage and spend on maintenance, the ideal is to move towards a V8! With this noble and torquey engine, at the height of its plastic, the Lotus Esprit wins not only a true supplement of soul, but also pure performance Hair-raising. A prestigious model, now in the trough of the wave (€ 45,000 maximum for a perfect model of 2003), which should in future probably know a very legitimate revival. Remains after to unearth the rare bird: only 1486 copies were produced, of which 204 GT versions and 28 and 350 Sport.

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