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Lotus Reviews

Lotus was the brainchild of Colin Chapman. He began building specials in 1948 and, extended that into a kit car business, Lotus Engineering, in 1952. But it was the Lotus 7 of 1957 that elevated the company into the public consciousness, along with the amazing glass fibre Elite. The first Elan became a benchmark for how a sports car should handle and the Esprit (1976-2004) had supercar looks and (eventually) performance.

Colin Chapman died in 1982 and the comany lurched from one owner to another. GM owned Lotus from 1986 to 1993, then Italian Romano Artioli (who also purchased Bugatti) until 1996 had a shot, and since then it's been in Malaysian ownership.

Good: The original Lotus, pure and unadorned
Bad: Good luck finding one
Good: Light fantastic
Bad: Lacking in creature comforts
Good: Lightweight fun, uncorrupted steering and brilliant handling, the original and still the best
Bad: Build quality is down to how good the owner is
Good: Like a 7 but even quicker and more agile
Bad: All of the usual 7 compromises and discomforts
Good: Beautiful, amazing chassis, and uncorrupted steering, a driver's car almost beyond compare
Bad: Noisy, cramped and patchily-built
Good: Phenomenal dynamics, brilliant steering, excellent performance
Bad: Cramped and flimsy, flaky electrics and variable build quality
Good: Twin Cam is an absolute gem, larger, but still brilliant to drive
Bad: Do you really need to carry three passengers in your Elan?
Good: Electrifying performance
Bad: High maintenance
Good: A mid-engined pioneer with brilliant handling and steering
Bad: Bonded body/chassis awkward to repair, cramped for anyone of above-average height
Good: Elite is surprisingly commodious, both are powered by the brilliant slant-four 16-valve which is powerful and revvy, excellent dynamics and steering, wedgy styling is a must for all '70s fans
Bad: Glass fibre body doesn't age well, crash damage difficult to repair well, legendary unreliability, low values make restoration a difficult financial matter
Good: Looks and handles like a genuine supercar
Bad: Doesn't really go like one, but can be as unreliable as you'd expect
Good: All the handling, style and finesse of the standard Esprit but with genuine supercar-challenging performance
Bad: All of the usual problems, plus a few more
Good: Great handling and ride, excellent performance/economy, much improved quality over earlier cars thanks to some Toyota parts sharing
Bad: Styling lacks cohesion, and still unreliable compared with its most serious rival of the time, the Porsche 944
Good: The Esprit but improved, much faster and more capable than before, softened and more timeless styling, improved build with each newer version
Bad: Values on the rise - so buy now
Good: Lotus handling in a front-wheel drive package
Bad: Interior lacks appeal, styling a bit anodyne
Good: Monstrous performance, brooding presence on the road, relatively straightforward to maintain for a supercar-slayer, good value for money at current prices
Bad: Many tired and abused examples out there, the interior doesn't feel as special as a BMW M5 or Mercedes-Benz AMG's
Good: Wonderful handling and steering, this lightweight sports car marks Lotus's return to form
Bad: Not a practical all-weather car, cramped for larger drivers, less than perfect reliability record