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20 February 2002
Las Vegas
OK... People I need some help. IM looking at buying a 1997 Lotus Esprit or a 1994 NSX.
I know what both car can do. All I need is someone else's in put on the cars.
I've run into quite a few Esprit owners (surprising, considering their tiny numbers in the States) and here's how they stack up:

Acceleration: Toss-up
Handling: NSX (slight advantage)
Reliability: NSX (huge advantage)
Ergonomics: NSX (huge advantage)
Availability of parts and service: NSX (huge advantage) in North America and Asia; Lotus in UK
Resale value: NSX (huge advantage)
hey bill, id get the nsx. but if you make enough, and i know you do, you might as well get your dream car the esprit
I find the sound of NSX a lot more attractive than Lotus. But Lotus is probably faster in straight line compared to pre '97 NSXes.(Esp if the Lotus is V8 TT) The 4 cyl turbo S4S is fast. I forgot when they changed the engine.
I actually considered the Lotus Esprit V-8 (97) before buying my NSX.
Do ONE thing for me.
Sit in one.
Thats all it took for me to choose the NSX.
I am NOT a tall person 5'7" and the Esprit felt like a sardine can it was so cramped.
The visibility is VERY poor also.
The side windows are so short they might as well not exist, and the front windshield rake is so steep the resultant opening is probably lesss than 12 inches top to bottom.
I HATED IT. No matter how well it performs, if I have to feel like a scrunched up peice of aluminum foil, I refuse to drive it.
In the looks department, I think its a matter of taste. Every person has their own opinion. NSXs are way more common where I live than an Esprit, so the Lotus deinitely attracts more attention where I live. As far as comfort, ergonomics, reliability, and practicality, the NSX wins by far. The interior of the Esprit is the part of the car where u can really see its age. The '97 Esprit has the V8 TT engine, whereas the '94 NSX has the weaker 3.0L V6 and 5 speed tranny drivetrain configuration. I believe in terms of acceleration the Lotus would edge the NSX. http://popularmechanics.com/popmech/auto3/9907AUCTBM.html
But what are you looking for in the car? Straight line performance? Handling? Reliability? Practicality? Looks? If a little bit of everything is ur answer, I think the '94 NSX is good, but a '97+ NSX would be better.
Curious why the 94 NSX? From what I have seen, you should be able to get into a 97 NSX for the price of the 97 Esprit... That would narrow the performance gap by a bit.

If the Esprit is your dream car, though, than you have to get it.

My situation was similar in that I have loved both the Esprit and the NSX for a loooong time. I need to really use the car, though, so when I saw an NSX that actually met all of my requirements and was able to sell my Vette, I jumped on it. Some people think I was crazy, but I don't care

If you really love the Esprit, you have to do it...
View pics of my friend's silver 2000 Esprit and my 2000 NSX-T

If you'll click through the pictures, you'll find a pic of his black 1997 Esprit.

Both cars are beauties...but I have a strong pref for the NSX.

From my few times riding in a '97 and 2000 Esprit, I'd have to say that the twin tubros kick a lot harder than my stock NSX.

Note that the rear-visibility in the '97 Esprit is severly impaired by its spoiler (more limited than the NSX). The higher spoiler of the 2000 Esprit remedied this quite a bit.

'00 Acura NSX-T (red/black), '97 Honda Civic HX (black), '01 Lexus IS300 (black/black)
"Reality is better than the dream..."


[This message has been edited by akira3d (edited 20 February 2002).]
A note on Lotus interiors - the '97 was the 1st year of the V8-TT, but it still had the same interior as the older cars - that is to say a VERY OLD looking interior. The '98 has a much nicer, upgraded modern interior - check out some pics of the '97 vs '98 interiors - a world of difference.

I'm battling w/ this same decison myself! :) For certain, the NSX is much better in every practical/logical measure. But from an emotional standpoint, there is something mesmerizing about that low wedge..
I had planned to buy a 97 Lotus Esprit (V8 TT). Then I sat in one, and my Lotus-dreams were dashed (I then learned about the NSX & the rest is history..)

It's not just a matter of the interior "feeling old". I can handle old. But the ergonomics are horid. As people have pointed out.. No headroom at all. The windows feel tiny. NO LEGROOM. The front wheel arch dominates the leg area and eats up most of the space. I didn't even bother with a test drive, I found I couldn't safely actuate the clutch pedal because my foot kept getting caught against the wheel arch it was up against. It's definitely like being in a sardine can.

Oh, and with the exception of a strange little vertical box against the rear of the cabin (between the passenger & driver).. There is no interior storage of any kind. No glove compartment. No cup holder. No center console storage. It's just not a practical car.

Which is really too bad, as it has a nice engine, great looks, good brakes, etc.

The Lotus has 2 noticeable advantages over the NSX - more power/straightline acceleration, and (though this is more subjective) more exoticness. I personally think a Lotus draws more looks than an NSX does.

If I remember correctly from when I sat in a Esprit V8 it is very, very cramped indeed. (I am a fairly tall guy at 6'3 by the way) Also, I may be wrong, but if my memory serves me correctly, the steering wheel is fixed so if you have long arms and legs like me you are screwed. I even hesitate to say that the seats don't move...but like I said I could be wrong since this was many years ago.
i think the lotus is absolutely fantastic--beautiful car.

to be redundant, at 6'1", i cant do it. not designed for corn fed boys like me.

if i was short id buy it in a heartbeat.

if youre not short, from listening to these forums you could upgrade to the lotus performance with a tweaked nsx.

(i only sat it one, i never drove it---i think the dealer thought i looked too plebian??? some dealers have a problem with young non-rich looking guys--whats up with that??) i guess that means the lotus IS more exotic.
Not sure about that... In the NYC region, I am pretty sure that younger guys would have a real hard time getting a test-drive in an NSX also.

If the Lotus is more exotic than the NSX, it's only because of brand snobbery. The NSX has an incredibly small production, high price tag, exotic mid-engine look, and very similar performance.

The only thing that has kept the NSX from really being considered an exotic is that it is Japanese. The Viper has the same problem. It's a bunch of bull if you ask me. I don't buy into that euro-snobbery thing...
Thanks every one... I think IM still going to go with my first choice the esprit. My friend has a nsx if I want to drive his ill just trade for the day.
When you get it, post some pics... Good luck!

[This message has been edited by spookyp (edited 21 February 2002).]
My advise would be definately buy the Lotus now or you will always say I shoulda,coulda,mighta,outa,etc....
Then when you get sick of pleasing everyone else "in your area" and lack of dependability wears thin on your pocket. Because $$$ is some what of an issue as youv'e expressed in the year NSX you concidered(97)50,000.00-60,000.00.
Either way do what you need to now but you will eventually wind up w/ an NSX after all is said and done.I dont say this to "dig" but more as I understand "love is blind"(until something serious goes wrong).
Good Luck
PS If I got a Lotus it would definately be twin turbo v-8 exept not black(for me)Yellow/Orange and definately lower that thang'(they look 4 wheel drive stock)very un- exotic IMO.And NEVER put on the headlights they look like two ridiculous cannons w/ four huge innefficient Model T ford headlights plus they really ruin the line of the car.This is not London can they sell a normal size headlight kit or a fixed unit please.
Good Luck " Sorry about the ridicule " but I also think the Viper looks like a "clown shoe" :)

Everyone did a good job responding, but I thought I'd add my $.02 since I also considered the Lotus. and I could have had either for the price I paid for a new NSX.

I live in Lancaster and that is home of the Manheim auto auction, the largest wholesale auto auction in the country. Near it is a very respected high-line garage that does repairs on exotic cars that come through the auction, and i've gotten to know the owner pretty well. When I asked him about reliability about the Lotus, he said "if you even have to ask about it, its not the car for you". The Lotus will break frequently, you will wait for parts for a long time, and it will be $$$.

I always liked the shape of the Esprit since they were popular in the James Bond films, but when I took a close look, it looks too much like a kit car with plastic parts and fender lips tacked on. Even the newer interiors have a crude appearance. The NSX is so beautifully finished.

I know that if I would have bought a Lotus, i'd be tired of it by now and not driven it much. I've only had my NSX for a month, and i'v put 1300 miles on it and look for every chance to drive it. Its so good, and so much fun. I'm going to see if I can wear it out.

Best of luck and get what you really want. The best advice I've read in the posts is to see them both and deceide.

keep the shiny side up
MikeC 01 #46
Happy to say that both NSX and Esprit can happily co-exist under one roof. My roof. I really enjoy driving both.

NSX is like a loyal servant taking me back and forth to work daily. Drives very well indeed.

Esprit is like my temperamental wife. Very demanding and difficult. Gets my heart pumping every time.

Both cars are rewarding in its own way. If I can only keep one, I'll take my Esprit over the NSX. My wife is looking over my shoulder.

Paul Siu
98' Esprit
93' NSX (non-stock)
NSX is an easy car to drive gracefully and fast. Esprit is a faster car but difficult to drive gracefully. With the right driver, both can track equally well. Just that extra power, enough to suprise a Viper or two, is good enough reason to keep the Esprit. Very additive......

Driving the NSX gets no respect. I often receive unexpected hostility from other cars. In the Esprit, I got thumbs up, jaws wide open, pictures taken, cars moving over just to let me pass, etc. Just have to exercise more restrain behind a twin turbo V8.

Paul Siu
Comments like this are always "your mileage may vary".

I certainly haven't receieved any hostility driving the NSX and I'm in NYC (one of the more hostile towns, supposedly)...

The hostility could very well be from envious, and bitter, ricers who are angry that there is a Honda they can't possibly afford.

The Lotus, being a boutique marque, is solidly outside the realms of reality for them and so, no real threat...

I've heard Viper drivers say similar things about the "hostility", btw...
Aesthetics are a personal thing, so I won't address that. I considered and almost bought an early V8-turbo lotus as an adjunct to my NSX. It had the cool-looking-but-vision-blocking wing from the late model S4s. Beautiful car. Really beautiful. Ergo was terrible though and the wing blocked most of your rear vision. No dead pedal because the front wheel well intruded into the footwell. Lot's of vibration from the engine, even at idle, but at WOT it sounded pretty cool - deeper than the NSX sound. Very quick car but surprisingly, low end grunt didn't seem that great. Think it would be a great addition to one's primary sports car, but I'd hate to rely on it as one's primary sports car...


P.S. Looks aside, a supercharged NSX coupe would be better than V8-TT in every meaningful performance parameter.
If you have another car as a daily driver, I would say screw the overweight Esprit and look into a ELISE. Although technically not street legal, one model can be driven on the street while the Motorsport version cannot. At 1500 lbs, 200hp, you can't go wrong on any performance aspect of the car. This car was designed with the 'racer' in mind so if your looking for "amenities" such as heated seats, look somewhere else.


I witnissed a Elise at the track in action and it was amazing how many Porsches, Vettes, and Vipers this car was passing. At 1500 lbs, the driver was able to brake FAR deeper and carry more corner speed then the other compromised 'sports' cars.

All depends on where your priorities are...

P.S. A Esprit and a NSX are light years apart from each other. The NSX dominates the Esprit in every way.

[This message has been edited by Prancing Horse (edited 09 March 2002).]
I too considered the Lotus, but the NSX won out. I looked at a beautiful silver/ grey. I have to admit the biggest concerns were reliability and driver visability when it came to the Lotus. I still like it's looks, cool car!

However, the last one I saw , a yellow one, was pulled over to the side of the road waiting for help..

The guys girlfriend / wife did not look happy.
I am sure making a longer day for the owner.

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