Lotus knows it can’t keep manufacturing the Elise, the Exige, and the Evora indefinitely. It will reportedly begin the process of rejuvenating its range in 2021, when it launches a light, driver-friendly sports car named Type 131.
British magazine Auto Express learned the Type 131 — an internal designation that won’t reach production; Fiat already owns the 131 nameplate — will be deeply and unabashedly rooted in the company’s decades-long heritage. It will embrace Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s “simplify and add lightness” philosophy thanks in part to a new platform that should be modular enough to underpin other upcoming additions to the firm’s range. Coupe and roadster variants of the 131 will be offered, though only one body style might be available at launch.
Although Lotus is working on bringing the electric, limited-edition Evija to production, the Type 131 will eschew all forms of electrification in the name of lightness. Power will come exclusively from a gasoline-burning engine, though the report doesn’t specify whether it will have four or six cylinders. Our crystal ball tells us it will be a turbocharged and/or supercharged four-cylinder, because the engine will most likely come from Geely (which purchased a controlling stake in Lotus), and there isn’t a six-cylinder on its palette of engines.
If the report is accurate, Lotus will share official information about the Type 131 in the coming months, and the model will make its debut in the second half of 2021. Interestingly, it will slot neatly between the Exige and the Evora (pictured) rather than replacing one or both. It’s too early to tell whether it will be sold in the United States, but every Lotus official Autoblog has spoken to in recent months has stressed America is an important market.
On the opposite side of the scale, Lotus is also developing its first SUV. The yet-unnamed model will be built on a platform sourced from within the Geely group (possibly Volvo’s CMA architecture), and it will be developed with an emphasis on performance. Enthusiasts will cry foul, but the soft-roader will become the best-selling Lotus.