Lotus Eagle (2008): the full story

Published: 23 April 2008

CAR has snapped the new Lotus Eagle – and, with 11 weeks to go before its public debut at the 2008 London motor show, the disguise is slowly but surely coming off the new mid-engined 2+2 from Norfolk.

The latest spyshots reveal a low-slung sports car and we can begin to make out more detail on the Eagle’s bodywork. For instance, the side profile shot reveals front doors that are carefully crafted to ease access to the rear cabin. This is a ‘four-seater’, remember, with rear seats designed for children up to nine years old. Or very flexible friends desperate for a lift back from the pub.

Lotus Eagle? Just remind me of the details…

The Eagle is the new mid-sized Lotus. It’ll fit between the entry-level Elise family of sports cars and the new, forthcoming Esprit. That means a price of £45,000, according to UK dealers we’ve contacted.

There’s still a bit of a wait after its July 2008 show debut. Production starts this autumn, with sales set for spring 2009.

Eagle is just a codename for the new 2+2 project. The finished car will carry a new ‘E’ badge, and we’d welcome your suggestions as to what Lotus should call it.

Click ‘Add your comment’ and suggest names for the new Lotus

Click ‘Next’ to read the mechanical spec on the new Lotus Eagle

Click here to watch the Lotus Eagle spy video

It looks rather like a stretched Elise…

Well, the Eagle certainly looks low-slung and rakish in an Elise fashion. But insiders are confident the newcomer will forge a new identity for itself. This is the first all-new Lotus product for a good dozen years, don’t forget.

The funny shape can be blamed on the Eagle’s essential make-up. This is an unusual mid-engined 2+2, and the Toyota-sourced V6 is slung amidships. We’ve seen the registration document for an Eagle prototype and it runs a 3458cc bent six – probably the engine from the US-market Camry.

That 24-valve V6 has variable valve timing and pumps out 262bhp at 6200rpm and 248lb ft at 4700rpm, power outputs that insiders don’t argue with. Our sources suggest that an automatic version is in the pipeline complete with paddle-shifts. Perfect for international markets such as the US…

And what’s all this about VVA construction?

That’ll be Lotus’s new Variable Vehicle Architecture (VVA). In a nutshell it’s a modular construction system that can be stretched in every dimension – meaning a company can produce a sports car off the same mechanical package as a 1900kg family car.

Lotus showed the front section of the Eagle’s VVA at the 2008 Geneva motor show, spilling a few more of its secrets. It’s a development of the Elise’s construction, using aluminium extrusions that are bolted and riveted into shape.

Watch out BMW M3 – there’s a composite roof!

The Eagle will get a composite roof as a stressed structural member – helping to make the coupe unusually rigid. Boffins among you will be impressed by the claimed vehicle stiffness of 26,000Nm per degree.

Click ‘Next’ for more details on the Eagle

The Lotus Eagle’s gonna be fast then…

We wouldn’t expect anything less of a Lotus. The lightweight construction will keep mass low; Lotus claims the bare front module of the Eagle weighs a paltry 25kg. And the suspension – double wishbones at all four corners – features arms made of forged aluminium to cut unsprung mass, instead of the steel wishbones on the Elise, Exige and Europa. The dampers are supplied by Bilstein, the springs by Eibach.

It’s too early to talk about performance figures, but you can bank on a weight just over a tonne. Mix that with a V6 churning out at least 260bhp and you have a genuinely fast 2+2. Good job the 350mm cross-drilled discs are grabbed by Lotus AP Racing four-pot callipers.

The boss speaks

Chief exec Mike Kimberley recently spoke about the Eagle project in public for the first time. He said: ‘I am delighted with the exceptional “fast-track” progress of Project Eagle – the project is hitting key gateway, timing and technical objectives.

‘The project utilises our core competencies in aluminium, and composite body engineering, jointing techniques, and vehicle systems integration.’

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet