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Lotus Excel (1982 - 1992)

Last updated 29 November 2013

Great handling and ride, excellent performance/economy, much improved quality over earlier cars thanks to some Toyota parts sharing
Styling lacks cohesion, and still unreliable compared with its most serious rival of the time, the Porsche 944


The Lotus Excel marked something of a turning point for its maker. It was the first of the 1980s Lotuses that would benefit from real improvements in quality, with an increasing amount of parts sharing with Toyota - following the Japanese company's investment in the Hethel firm.

The Excel was actually a heavily revised version of the Éclat, sold initially as the Éclat Excel in order to avoid the expense of submitting the new car through full UK and European Type Approval. There weren't as many changes as it first appeared, with most body revisions impacting on the rear half of the car. The big changes were underneath, where the Toyota Supra five-speed transmission and brakes, plus broader, lower rear wishbones were fitted. The chassis was also galvanised. It was still a brilliant car to drive despite ageing underpinnings, proof that they really knew how to develop a car at Hethel.

The body was revised again in 1984 with Audi quattro-style blisters, and from 1986 the SE version offered 180bhp, up 20bhp from the standard car. The same year the SA was launched with a ZF four-speed automatic gearbox - aimed at the US market.

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