“Low, sleek, ultra-competitive.”
The 1983 Lotus Esprit Turbo finally brought the performance that the original Esprit’s supercar looks had promised over half a decade before.
Horsepower was up to 205 bhp from the 140 bhp that had come with the debut of the Esprit in 1977. The engine was still the type-910 2.2 liter carbureted inline 4 cylinder but a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger making 8.0 psi of boost was attached. Other engine technology included an aluminum block, aluminum heads, and four valves per cylinder.
Performance for the almost 3,000 pound exotic was substantially improved: a 0-60 time of about 6.5 seconds was about 1.5 seconds quicker than the original naturally aspirated car. The Esprit Turbo’s top speed was about 140 mph.
From the perspective of 2013, mileage wasn’t so great for a small turbocharged four (14 city/25 highway by the standards of the day) but the 22.7 gallon gas tank helped with range.
The Esprit’s looks were updated in the same way that many 1970s designs were as they headed into the 1980s. Ground effects were added to the original Giorgetto Giugiaro design and of course there were huge Esprit Turbo logos on the rear quarters.
Car and Driver recently reprinted their story on the Esprit Turbo from November 1983 and it is interesting and instructive to read (though it is notable that they put the Nissan/Datsun 300ZX Turbo on the cover that month instead of the Lotus). They believed that the car would find a hole in the exotic market even at a relatively dear price of $47,984 (about $112,000 in 2013 dollars). For reference, according to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for an 1983 Esprit Turbo in #1 condition is $30,700.
- Lotus Esprit Turbo Archived Road Test: A Better, Faster, Federalized Esprit (caranddriver.com)