Lotus has confirmed details for its new inhouse V8 engine family, which will make its first road car appearance in the 2013 Esprit.
Responding to feedback which said the 'New Era' plan to launch five new models was weakened by its reliance on Toyota engines, the new management team decided last Christmas to design and develop its own engine. 'The feedback from customers was "how can you justify a £100,000 car with a Toyota engine?",' said chief executive Dany Bahar.
Developing its own family of engines sounds like a far-flung plan - and yet another expense - but Lotus has decades of experience developing motors for other manufacturers in its Lotus Engineering division. The cost has not been disclosed, Bahar saying 'I'm not going to tell you whether it cost £40m, £60m or £70m, but the engineering result will be worth it.'
Lotus V8: the plan
Work on the new modular Lotus engine family has progressed at a furious pace and the first fire-up will take place on 18 August 2011. The first road car to be powered by the V8 will be the 2013 Lotus Esprit, although it could be used in racing cars before then.
The V8 is the first of a modular family of engines which will be designed and built in Norfolk. It's a 90deg, 4800cc V8 developing more than 562bhp at 9000rpm and in excess of 612bhp in turbocharged form for harder R models.
From V8 to V6 and 4cyl: the Lotus engine plan
Stripping a pair of cylinders off would make a 3.6-litre V6; splitting the V8 in half would create a 2.4-litre four-cylinder for smaller cars such as the 2015 Elise.
'Our engine is 80kg lighter than the Lexus V8 we were going to use,' said engineering director Wolf Zimmerman. 'It's also very compact with its dry sump - it's 40% smaller, just 612mm long. At 170kg, it's more like a race engine.'
Zimmerman, who worked at AMG before joining Lotus in autumn 2010, vows the new V8 will be very revvy and have a raucous bark more than a McLaren hum.
The 2013 Esprit will use an automated single-clutch transmission, CAR understands, rather than the rumoured twin-clutch box. Engineers at Hethel have not talked yet about the hybrid power promised, but the transmission can be electrified.
Lotus will race the V8 too
The new V8 is strong enough to be used as a stressed member for race applications and Lotus Motorsport hinted that the engine may be ready in time to compete in its first LMP2 prototype races in 2012.