Lotus Esprit Turbo (1980)
Lotus Esprit Turbo
By the close of 1980, Lotus were effectively building three different models of Esprit, with distinct chassis designs and body moulds – the Domestic (i.e. UK) S2.2, the Export S2.2, and the dry-sump Turbo Esprit. Introduced in April 1981, the Turbo Esprit and S3 (Series 3) Esprits marked a necessary consolidation: both new models had a common chassis, inheriting much of the configuration of the Essex cars, whilst body production was based on a single common set of moulds.
The S3 continued to use the 2.2 L type 910 engine of the S2.2, whilst the Turbo Esprit reverted to a less complex wet-sump lubrication system, retaining the power and torque outputs of its dry-sump predecessor. The interior for both cars was revised and featured new trim; combined with changes to the body moulds this resulted in more headroom and an enlarged footwell. Externally, the Turbo Esprit retained the full aerodynamic body kit of the Essex cars, and featured prominent ‘turbo esprit’ decals on the nose and sides; the S3 gained the more substantial bumpers, yet retained the simpler sill line and glazed rear hatch of the S2.2 body style. Both models were supplied with 15″ BBS alloy wheels.
In April 1986, the final incarnations of the Giugiaro-styled Esprit were announced, with raised engine compression giving rise to their ‘HC’ moniker. This increased the output of the naturally aspirated engine to 172 horsepower (128 kW) and 160 lb·ft (220 N·m) for the Esprit HC, and to 215 horsepower (160 kW) and 220 lb·ft (300 N·m) for the Turbo Esprit HC, with the increased torque available at a lower rpm. For markets with stringent emissions requirements, Lotus introduced the HCi variant, teaming the higher compression engine with Bosch KE-Jetronic fuel injection – the first fuel-injected Esprits.