Lotus Esprit Reviews from North America

1988 Lotus Esprit Commemorative Edition 2.2 inline turbo

Model year1988
Year of manufacture1987
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission 2.2 inline turbo Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired33000 miles
Most recent distance45141 miles
Previous carSAAB 9-3

Summary:

Expectation met, expectation exceeded, man was meant to fly

Faults:

When I first got the car, the interior was worn out.

The interior color scheme was utterly, including the steering wheel, disgraceful. Replaced the door panels and steering wheel, as well as the seats, with the help of ebay.

Steering wheel from a guy that worked for Lotus in England. The door panels and seats from a V8 owner that was re-doing his for the track. All Lotus Connelly leather originals with trimming.

The car was not charged cooled; had a gentlemen that specializes in Esprit outfit mine with an over sized one.

When the car was driven for extended periods of time and parked, it would take about 2 hours cool off time to re-start. Whatever was causing that was sorted out.

Also had the infamous "red hose" issue, which would make the clutch and shifting impossible. This too was sorted out.

As of this writing, the car is extremely reliable, too many modifications, fixes,and upgrades to list. I must admit I "invested" substantially to achieve this. We drive it regularly on long trips in comfort [I'm 6'1" my wife 6'3"] with no thought of a mechanical failure.

General Comments:

When I first got the car, I would spend hours in the garage just looking at it; not unlike when my son was born, and I would look at him sleep, and think this is my beautiful baby.

In car centric Los Angeles, my Esprit Commemorative Edition 1988 is still a scene stealer. You see plenty of Lambos, Ferraris, Porsches, etc.. you just don't see very many Esprits, even in Los Angeles, and when people do, they pause.

The performance is extremely robust, tempered only by my co-pilot.. my wife.

I absolutely love this car; it's as close as an average guy can get to F1 performance on a middle class budget.

Sir Colin Chapman's legacy lives on; it's fast, it's sexy, it's exclusive, and it's MINE!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th September, 2010

1999 Lotus Esprit SE V8 TT

Model year1999
Year of manufacture1999
First year of ownership2005
Most recent year of ownership2005
Engine and transmission V8 TT Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired25000 miles
Most recent distance26000 miles

Summary:

Best supercar for the money.

Faults:

Nothing. Yet.

General Comments:

The car is absolutely stunning to behold in person and a rocket-sled to drive.

It's very low and wide and charismatic on the street. The flying wedge styling is classically beautiful.

Getting in and out requires some acrobatics. This is not an old man's car.

It accelerates with ferocity, especially if you have the sport exhaust growling behind you. The handling is tight but the ride is surprisingly supple. Steering feel is amazing, the best I've ever experienced. Throttle, clutch, brakes and shifter are much improved over earlier (4-cylinder) models, but still not the best - a modern Corvette is easier to drive. Overall I'd say that except for heavy stop-and-go traffic it's a very comfortable car.

Nice big trunk in the back can hold some serious baggage.

I love my Esprit V8.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st August, 2005

1990 Lotus Esprit SE 2.2L

Year of manufacture1990
First year of ownership2002
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 2.2L Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 9 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired48000 miles
Most recent distance53000 miles
Previous carMercedes-Benz S-Class

Summary:

A True Exotic in Every Respect

Faults:

Many little things have needed to be updated. The general build quality is good, but time takes it's toll on all exotic machines.

Slave cylinder failed.

Power antenna stopped working.

Turbo requires frequent rebuild (every 50K miles) if you do not buy a blow-off valve.

Gas tank needs to be replaced, they are know for leaking.

General Comments:

I find this car to be very easy to work on, considering I have never worked on any car before. Lotus is a car that needs attention, it is an exotic, all true exotics will have little things that will need some work, but that is part of the fun of ownership.

As a performer, the Esprit is an amazing car that has truly inspired many of todays rice rockets. The engine is strong, reliable, and requires little to keep it going. All the little things around the engine however, need checking, attention, and sometimes replacement. This car is very easy to upgrade its reliability. Most problems that occur can be repaired easily in such a way that the repairs could last a lifetime.

If you are the type of person that insists on having a dealer complete every minor repair and demand absolute perfection, then this car will be very expensive to own. If, however, you decide to tackle the little problems yourself and leave the big stuff to the dealer, then the cost of ownership can be very inexpensive.

Bottom line: love the car for what it is, take the good with the bad, and plan on learning a lot about these cars and spending a lot of time paying close attention to its needs. This car was built for owners to care for, not dealers.

An attentive owner will be rewarded with blinding fast performance, amazing reliability for an exotic, and will get more attention than from any other car in its price range.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd October, 2003

Average review marks: 8.0 / 10, based on 8 reviews