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2005 Lotus Elise Preview Update

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Khatir Soltani

New Lightweight Sports Car Makes Rivals Seem Obese

Lotus, the famed British racing green adorned brand that instilled fear in the hearts of the majority of its on-track competitors in the '60s and '70s, doesn't sell many cars in North America.

Lotus is poised for a major North American splash with its striking Elise. (Photo: Lotus Cars Canada)

Its Esprit V8, while wonderfully agile in the corners and rakishly exotic to see on the street is decades old architecturally. What's more, its purveyors are often independent showrooms or garages with little brand identity adorning their establishments.

While stand-alone proprietary dealerships would be nice, the boutique manufacturer isn't about to invest mega-millions into anything other than product research and development, which is just fine with me. My local dealer, Weissach Performance in Vancouver, does a better job at servicing customers' needs than most any premium product company store anyway.

Comments from Mark O'Shaughnessy, director of sales and marketing for Lotus Cars USA Inc. indicate the demand for the Elise has been strong and widespread. (Photo: Lotus Cars Canada)

On the subject, Mark O'Shaughnessy, director of sales and marketing for Lotus Cars USA Inc., said Lotus distribution will be "relatively widespread," with top-tier sports car retailers across the continent offering new cars for sale.

O'Shaughnessy coyly commented on Esprit sales mentioning that they have been "relatively even nationwide," accentuating his surprise that sales in colder jurisdictions where convertible sports cars traditionally shouldn't sell as well are similar to those in warmer regions. The comment was a great setup for his follow-up quip, "We'd like to see our performance improve on the West Coast, frankly."

Khatir Soltani
Khatir Soltani
Automotive expert
  • Over 6 years experience as a car reviewer
  • Over 50 test drives in the last year
  • Involved in discussions with virtually every auto manufacturer in Canada