The Lotus Esprit is a supercar of small lots from the 1990s. Its intensely pointed body is punctuated by square taillights. The badpit is as artistically executed as a Power Wheels car. But 25 years later, the Sport 300 limited race is still special.
In all seriousness, the final exterior design of the Lotus Esprit is one of my favorite things to hit the road in Europe or on any other continent. The emerging headlights and the handles of the parts of the compartments grind any chance that this car can have of becoming "timeless", but I still think that it is beautiful and intense enough in search of what it is supposed to be: the true car of driver.
Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to drive one and confirm it. But I was very happy to hear Henry Catchpole of Carfection proclaim that the Sport 300 that he handled for this video was "… everything I dreamed of when I was young and I saw these cars on the street".
Now the Sport 300 was not just another Esprit. Although there really is no such thing as "just another Esprit". I think I see one or two a year, even in Los Angeles, where supercars are as common as Camrys. But you understand what I mean: this particular variant is exceptionally rare.
Only 64 Esprit Sport 300 were manufactured, according to Catchpole. Although an AutoCar article from 1993 promised that 50 would be built when the car left for the first time. That article also explains that the Sport 300 is not really a modified "S4" version of the Esprit, as it seems to be. "In essence, the Sport 300 is a derivative of the Esprit X180R corridor that has competed successfully in the US series of supercars SCCA and IMSA for the past three years," AutoCar wrote, approximately 25 years ago.
Today, Catchpole points out that the driver's seat feels "like a foot closer to the ground" than in a modern Lotus Evora, which, wow.
At any time, the car was a marvel of volumetric efficiency: its luxurious 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo engine generated brake power of 302 and 287 lb-ft of torque. Considering the fact that the car only had to weigh 2,738 pounds, it should have been a screamer, those performance specifications are quite modest by modern standards: AutoCar qualified from 0 to 60 times to 4.7 seconds, with a quarter of a mile 13.4.
However, Catchpole points out that "the unexpected joy of the Sport 300 is how strong it feels". And the real pleasure of pushing a Lotus around comes from taking turns, not from hitting a traffic light head-on.
For that purpose, the Sport 300 is much wider and stiffer than a normal Esprit, and you can see Catchpole taking advantage of the fact that it is only slightly sideways in his video.
The Esprit Sport 300 appears at £ 64,995 when it was new. That's roughly $ 83,695 at the current exchange rate, which translates to just over $ 145,000 in today's money. If this car arrives on the market as it is now, I am sure we will all complain about the interior that seems to have been raised from a Playskool product and adult size.
But it seems that the car is still a handful, which of course is what we like the fastest cars of this era.