Under new boss Dany Bahar, Lotus has big plans. Many big, fast, expensive plans.
And this is perhaps the biggest, fastest and most expensive of the bunch. This is the Lotus Elite (read it carefully), a front-engined, 2+2 super-coupe to rival the Aston Martin DB9 and due to launch in 2014.
That's a big aim, but the Elite has some big credentials. Under that long bonnet, though behind the front axle, is a Toyota-sourced 5.0-litre V8 - the engine found in the mighty, and mighty sounding, Lexus IS-F - developing 610bhp at 8,000rpm. And, unlike the IS-F version, which is awesome enough, this one is supercharged. Lotus says it'll haul to 62mph in around 3.5 seconds which, if true, puts the Elite in some pretty serious company.
The shape is by a team operating under Lotus’s new head of design, Donato Coco. He began at Lotus in January 2010, and it’s no coincidence that he came from Ferrari, where he was head of Concept Design & Development. No coincidence for two reasons. One, the boss of Lotus, Dany Bahar, also came from Ferrari. Two, Coco was at Ferrari when the California was taking shape.
There's tech here, too. The full 610bhp Elite will, says Lotus, use an optional full complement of hybrid gubbins - integrated electric motors and an F1-style ‘KERS' regeneration system. In hybrid guise, it weighs 1,650kg, about 100kg less than the DB9 but portly by Lotus's own featherweight standards.
The Lotus is 10cm shorter than the Aston, but the most significant gap between the two cars comes in the form of the CO2 emissions: the Elite is predicted to cough out just 215g/km of CO2, a massive 40 per cent less than the DB9.
One more ambitious figure for you: £115,000. That's the price that Lotus has tagged on the Elite, and a clear indication of its intention to head upmarket, although note that's the base price for the non-hybrid version, which is predicted to put out a slightly meeker 550bhp (to be fair, that's still officially "a lot"). The Norfolk firm will have to raise its game hugely in terms of interior fit, finish and cabin gizmos to justify that price tag and tempt buyers away from their Porsches, but Bahar sounds confident.
"Make no mistake, there's a definite market requirement for the Elite," says the ex-Ferrari man.
"It's the ultimate sports car feel with comfort and space. There will always be those who believe Lotus should stick to small sports cars, but we didn't take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly. This sector has been very successful for us in the past, and now the Elite raises the benchmark higher still."
What do you reckon? Can Lotus really take on the big boys at their own game? Or should it stick to lightweight, no-frills track monsters?