Drove a 2002 Lotus Esprit V8 Twin Turbo--MY REVIEW

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Wow, what a terrible ergonomically fitting car. The British are decades behind Japanese interior styling. Sitting in it I felt as if I was sitting from a 80’s domestic...seating position is too low and the dash is too high with poor visibility all around.

The gauges are made by VDO and are the bare essentials...I would think a $80k+ turbo exotic would have a full dash! No boost, no oil psi and no volts. And a tach with no redline?? (Just for your FYI, the tachs go to 8k but redline is around 7200, yes, it's difficult to manage).

It did have a Alpine head unit with speakers and I thought because of the brand that it would have decent sound quality...wrong again. Highs are good but no mids and NO bass.

It has cheap push buttons for the parking lights, headlights and these hard-pressed window switches. I believe the car is hand built? For its sake, I hope it is because it creeks and cracks a lot. The seats, the dash especially and this car only has 8900 miles! My 93 NSX feels like a 2005 in comparison!

The shifter is like rowing a boat, long sloppy throws that are nowhere nearly refined as the NSX or S2000 (which I feel is a one up on the NSX). The clutch could build your leg muscles if you did reps of 10 every day for a few minutes.

Exterior Styling...Sexy car however for a 2002, I would expect HIDs and flush headlights...those two key things make it a little dated. I love the big wheels and accompanying big brakes. The rear wings looks at home too.

Performance...It lags...bad. But then the boost builds up! ...And then you must shift which again is sloppy so you loose that little bit of boost smile you had. I agree with the published numbers. it feels as fast as a 3.2 NSX and as light, great handling too but I felt a but more confidence in the NSX...maybe because I have more seat time.

Any one else ever drive one? Am I way off? I try not to be biased with any car that I drive.
 
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TRM04 said:
Any one else ever drive one? Am I way off? I try not to be biased with any car that I drive.

I have not driven one of these, but your report is anything but glowing. You covered the interior and ergonomics, but the report on the performance leaves some to be desired.

Could you reflect on the suspension? Steering? Brakes? Transmission? Also, in talking about the "lag"; how does it compare to other turbo'd cars? If you keep the RPMs in the sweet spot is it still laggy?

-Jeremy
 

liftshard

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The car has good looks, sure, and I considered one along w/ the NSX.

But, seriously...people here bitch about the NSX's horsepower. The Esprit has a 3.5L engine w/ twin turbos...yet only manages 350hp? That's pathetic. I'll take the NSX's NA 290 over this.

I agree with the interior ergonomics, but I have never driven one. I see them very occasionally, actually a black one around here the other day. Didn't draw the types of looks that the NSX does. In fact, it wasn't really all that noticed, even by me.

I've heard some bad things about the reliability of these cars, but the looks are certainly hot.
 
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I have actually been looking at 98's because of the restyled interior. I drove a 89 and it was freaking terrible. I was hoping the newer ones would be nicer. According to your review, maybe not. I still think the look great and I would like to test drive one.

Oh, and as far as HP, Allanlambo dynoed his brand new car at 350wrhp. It looks like they are underratting the HP. No idea why. Maybe that was just something for the final year??
 
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NetViper said:
I have actually been looking at 98's because of the restyled interior. I drove a 89 and it was freaking terrible. I was hoping the newer ones would be nicer. According to your review, maybe not. I still think the look great and I would like to test drive one.

Oh, and as far as HP, Allanlambo dynoed his brand new car at 350wrhp. It looks like they are underratting the HP. No idea why. Maybe that was just something for the final year??

Ive heard reports over upwards of 350 whp on many occasions. Definatly underated. This car looks great in the "final edition trim" for 2002. Big OZ's, monster brakes and a great looking car, IMO
 
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I drove a late 70's maybe early 80's vintage Lotus Esprit. It shifted like my sisters old Triumph Spitfire and then it broke on the freeway about 5 minutes into the drive! That's British for ya! Cool looking cars though. Thought about trying to find a blown one and pulliing the engine and replacing it with electric since I work in the field.

BH
 
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There is an optional performance chip that will give you 100hp I dont remember if it was factory or aftermarket but a Prime member had this car and from what I remember the car was fast as hell and Ohh the sound of the blow off valve. :biggrin:
 
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Acura NsX Pilot said:
There is an optional performance chip that will give you 100hp I dont remember if it was factory or aftermarket but a Prime member had this car and from what I remember the car was fast as hell and Ohh the sound of the blow off valve. :biggrin:

I think Allan did that "100 hp" chip, along with other mods and he ended up picking up under 50hp. But, again, his dynoed at 350 already.
 
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Making her debut in 1989, Honda introduced the NSX at Geneva Auto Show. It was Honda's mission to build the perfect sports car and had mostly succeeded. The all aluminum monocoque structure, Vtec technology, and form fitting ergonomics was way before its time.

The first Lotus Esprit appeared in 1976. The fiber composite body sheet steel center backbone chassis was typical of Lotus design of the time. Safed only by the talented Lotus design team, the antiquated layout was deemed one of the best automobile suspension in the world and can still hold its own to this day.

With 13 years difference, the NSX is by far the superior of the two. The design concepts are not unlike the vast cultural differences between each origin. Apples and Oranges anyone ....... The NSX was build around real humans where as the Esprit, humans around car. It is all too easy to park our hind into the NSX and drive like an expert. The ergonomics is so superb. The limit is so exploitable. Squeezing into an Esprit is to be taken literally. One has to contort oneself to adobt to its many design idosyncrasy. Driving an Esprit is like riding a bull with a cattle prod. It makes one think twice before probing its potential.

In the NSX, people often ask if it a Ferrari. In the Esprit, people often ask if it is a Lamborghini. Personally, I'll take the NSX out any time of the day. But somehow, driving the NSX left me longing for something more. It is simply too refined to really get excited about. Driving the antiquated Esprit somehow gets my adrenalin flowing. It offers heart pounding aceleration coupled with superb handling. And oh the drop dead look! OTOH, which car do I prefer to drive daily? NSX of course........

To sum it all. The NSX makes me drive like an expert. The Esprit makes an expert driver out of me.

Best Regards
Paul
 
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I used a '94 Esprit S4 as my daily driver for a few months and can report the following:

1.) People always ask you what it is...and when you tell them it is a 'Lotus' they say, 'Oh', and get a confused look on their face. This is followed up with, 'Who makes Lotus,' and pretty soon it becomes easier to just say, 'Do you remember the car from the movie 'Pretty Woman',' and they then remember. Quite a pain in the arse. :(

2.) The car is the most Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde of any car I have ever driven. When the turbo is not spooled, the car is a dog. When the turbo fires up, the car is a screaming banshee!! I mean it is FAST!! You have to pay attention in this car for sure.

3.) The transmission is a nightmare!! Trying to shift quickly is a task left to the very experienced as the gearbox is about as vague as vague can get. Nowhere near the NSX or S2000 transmission.

4.) Interior quality is spotty at best, but very much a pure sports car. When I would get into the Esprit I always knew I was in an exotic...maybe because of its odd ergonomics, and the fact that after only about 24,000 miles it was already falling apart.

All in all the car is not terrible to drive, but it is surely a different experience than the NSX. I love the NSX because it can esaily be driven every day without problem or annoyance. I like the Esprit S4 because it looks crazy exotic and has very edgy handling that takes practice to tame. There is something to be said for a car that has such a steep learning curve....I just choose to drive my more user friendly NSX instead. ;)
 

NSX/MR2

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I drove an upgraded 2003 Espirit v8. Love the look and the performance once the turboes kicked in. However, there are some lags, plus the interior and the shifter sucked. It is a car for someone who wants something different!
 

eg9

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I owned a '90 Esprit SE, then moved up to the 2000V8 Esprit. I then sold the Esprit to purchase a 2003 NSX. I thought it would be a step up, but I was wrong. I now own a '95 Esprit S4s... Simply amazing car! THe NSX was great, but my heart is with Lotus. Performance/etc.. reasons:

*The S4s is a faster car. You have to be very careful. You can get to 100mph VERY quick.
*The Esprit is easier to work on (for me it is... can do much of the work)
* Very reliable(93Esprits and on)
* THe most beautiful lines ever on an automobile... (my opinion)
* VERY RARE
* Affordable when purchased used
* Suspension is amazing on my S4s. The car feels more controlable in corners, and it feels lighter too.
* Interior is ALL leather... I mean ALL leather. Yes it's outdated as far as looks, but the smells will make you soon forget that.
* The S4s Esprit (compared to the pre '95.5 Esprits) has revised springs & dampers, enlarged inlet valves, modified cylinder head, re-calibrated ECM with higher boost (1.0 bar), increased capacity oil sump, Garret T3/60 turbo with enlarged compressor wheel giving it a modest 300hp in a 2800 weight car.

It's just an amazing car! Don't get me wrong... the NSX was great, but even through the NSX ownership, I continually seeked Esprit information, knowledge. I heart is with Lotus.. Interestingly... I find myself poking around here too at times now... ummmmmmmmm
 
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I don't understand why everyone says the esprit is SOOO fast. It is not. Look at the times. A stock esprit is SLIGHTLY faster than a stock NSX. Maybe it is the rush of TQ that makes everything think it is just so much faster. :confused:
 

NSX/MR2

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NetViper said:
I don't understand why everyone says the esprit is SOOO fast. It is not. Look at the times. A stock esprit is SLIGHTLY faster than a stock NSX. Maybe it is the rush of TQ that makes everything think it is just so much faster. :confused:

The Esprit V8 is not faster by much, and the S4, i don't think will be able to stay with the NSX. (From my experience, i have raced against one on the freeway.) Others might have a different experience, but that S4 can't stay with my black 92 NSX.
 

eg9

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I don't own an S4.... I own an S4S. I've owned a 2003 NSX for 2 years.... I KNOW what I'm talking about. The V8 did 0-60 in about 4.3 and the S4S will do it in 4.4 0-100 in 10.5 approx for both. (These are Official Lotus figures) My old V8 Esprit and my S4S Esprit would beat my NSX... Don't worry, the NSX was amazing... You're absolutely right.. It is NOT faster by much.. Definately NOT the reason I moved back to an Esprit. It's the whole package, not just the performance. I would love to have both cars, and keep my STI..
 
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Taken from general published data, the latest NSX and Esprit from 0 - 60 is around 5.0sec and 4.4sec (+/- 0.1 sec.) respectively. The Esprit isn't SOOO fast. But considering the 0.6sec difference, it is much quicker than the NSX. eg9's S4S is one of the most sought-after turbo 4's in Esprit lineage second only to the Sport 300. Using a hybrid Garrett T4 turbocharger and chargecooler, it puts out a healthy 300hp with a violent kick once it spools up. Stock vs. stock, the NSX can only hope to catch up.

However the NSX is much easier to launch consistantly. Relatively bullet proof, one simply rev the engine up to 4-5k RPM, dump the clutch, and keep the car up in VTec band. Transmission being Esprit's weakest link, the same technique will likely cause internal hemorrhage. BTW, the shift linkage in the Esprit s__ks. The V8 is perhaps slightly easier to launch, nevertheless it takes a good driver who is intimately familiar with the Esprit to launch properly. Living with both for over 5 yrs, I can attest that the Esprit out guns the NSX in regards to speed.

Yes, we can be very emotional especially towards our automobiles. I can't easily give up either. I love my Esprit just as much as my NSX. They are just two completely different animals and neither is completely superior than the other. Not risking eternal regrets, I'm keeping both.... :smile:

Best Regards
Paul

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Well, it is no secret that the NSX is way underpowered. In reality, a 350HP TT should easily smoke the 290HP NSX -- especially if they are underrated.

I would still love to try a 99-01 Lotus. Nobody with one lives anywhere near me. :frown:
 

eg9

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Paul-

That was very well put... If I could revise my car selection, I would have kept my NSX along with my S4s Esprit. You have a great choice of cars. Congrats!

Netviper- I know you were dissapointed with the early '90 SE Esprit. The '95.5 -96 S4s('96 outside of US only) is a much different car then what you experienced. If you're ever in the area, you can take my S4s for a spin, and you'll know what I mean :biggrin:

Ed-
 
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Happy 4th of July, Ed!! I sure miss Fresno!

It's nice to have a civilized discussion of two great, sports cars. Unlike many redneck car forums where people boast about their "destroying" the NSX on the street or pick their home grown POS over the NSX.

The NSX owners are truly classy. :)
 
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2 years ago I was in the market for a Lotus. I called Autostrada in Austin and set up an appt. Very friendly staff. Upon arriving The salesman Stood there waiting for me to get out of the car. As soon as I walked in the showroom he had his porters quickly move two 04 esprits in yellow only to leave the 25th anniversary red Lotus for me to ride and later drive in. He first took me around the block a few and then let me get my hands on the wheel. My first impressions:

Exterior- Love the looks, nice sized wheels, wing fits the shape, exhaust note very tame at idle, brakes etc.

interior- What can I say, I felt cramped for some reason, I did not like the speaker locations on the dash which I found tacky. The shifter was long. Loved the NSX notchy short feel.

When driving this bad boy It made me miss boost all over again, the VDO guages seem to be out of place I would think lotus could use better quality rather than summit racings own VDO guages. The car is quick but have driven faster. Comparing to the NSX, as stated above the two cars are two different beasts. I honestly would not mind owning one, a local Lotus esprit owner drives his everyday to work.
 
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