Lotus 'Eagle' (2009): first pictures

Published: 15 July 2008

This is the long-awaited new Lotus 2+2, with a 3.5-litre Toyota V6 and four apparently useable seats. It's the first new Lotus for 13 years and a pretty significant launch, due for its show debut at the 2008 London motor show later this month on 22 July 2008.

That's when we’ll find out the name of this new Lotus – codenamed Eagle – but in the meantime the company is teasing us with some new details. These include the car’s sub-five second 0-60mph time, its estimated 160mph top speed and the promise of convertible and high-performance versions. Read on for the full first details and analysis of the new Lotus Eagle.

Is it still called the Lotus Eagle?

For now, as that’s the car’s project name – but the production car will bear a regular Lotus 'E' name, predicted to be a short, pithy tag. This is a true Lotus at heart, after all; early prototypes of the Eagle running at the Nurburgring are considerably faster than the Elise, Hethel spokesmen claim, and more stable at speed than the Exige, too.

Of course the Lotus Eagle should be one of the quickest four-seaters around, with an aluminium chassis and a composite roof help to keep weight low in time-honoured Lotus fashion. Add in that 3.5-litre V6 Toyota engine equipped with dual VVT-i (‘intelligent’ variable valve timing) producing 276bhp and we wouldn’t expect anything less from Lotus. The torque figure should be at least 250lb ft, as CAR scooped the lowdown on the Toyota engine a few months ago.

The rest of the Eagle's spec is pretty impressive too, with 350mm four-pot AP racing brakes, Bilstein dampers and Eibach springs.

And the looks? We'll let you judge the design for yourself, suffice to say that this first official photograph had most at CAR recalling the M250 concept shown at the start of the decade; it was designed as a smarter Lotus to slot above the Elise but failed to meet global homologation standards and was subsequently parked. Much of its spirit seems alive and well in the new Eagle.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the first details and photograph of the Lotus Eagle

Click here to watch the Lotus Eagle spy video

What about the Lotus Eagle being a 2+2?

In the back of the Eagle, but ahead of the mid-mounted engine, you’ll find two Isofix seats that are designed for children up to nine years old, or for occasional use by adults. Think 911 rear pews. But if you want to be more practical we suggest ticking the box that turns the rear seats into a luggage compartment.

Lotus claims the new Eagle offers ‘real-world usability’, so the cabin is leather-lined and even has a glovebox, storage bins and ‘cup holders’. The steering wheel is flat-bottomed and blue LEDs bathe the cabin in light.

We've seen sneak photos inside the Eagle and it certainly seems more executive than the Europa, the smarter, touring version of the Elise that left us disappointed. While we don't expect the Eagle to be quite knocking on the door of Audi TT or Porsche 911 owners quite yet, the quality has taken a leap forward, vow Lotus types.

Lotus Eagle: the design story

The Eagle has been designed in-house by Lotus Design. Chief stylist Russell Carr said: 'The modern customer demands that the product offers real-world usability as well as exotic imagery. Therefore every element of the car’s exterior and interior has been carefully designed to create a product that offers comfort and convenience as well as traditional performance car attributes.'

Click 'Next' below to read more about the Lotus Eagle

Click here to watch the Lotus Eagle spy video

What else do I need to know about the new Lotus Eagle?

Inside the Eagle you’ll find a Alpine hi-fi system with Bluetooth and iPod connections. Air-con is standard and you can even option a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitor. Anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control are all standard.

No more than 2000 Eagles a year will be built at Lotus's HQ in Hethel, Norfolk, and prices are expected to start at £45k when sales start in spring 2009. One of the internal mantras when developing this car was '911 car for Cayman cash', which positions it pretty neatly.

‘Project Eagle is the biggest milestone Lotus has achieved since the Elise was born 13 years ago,’ Lotus CEO Mike Kimberely said. ‘We are currently working at broadening the appeal of the Lotus brand through an aggressive five-year model plan of which this car represents the first exciting step.’

Up next are two new models, due by October 2011. One of those is the new Esprit... Exciting times at Hethel, then.

Click here to watch the Lotus Eagle spy video

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy