This or an Emira? We try to answer that question.
The Lotus Esprit is a far cry from the much more modern Lotus Emira, but if you ask us, that just makes it way cooler (and probably a lot less reliable). Still, this utterly immaculate example with an incredibly 80s color scheme is up for sale. Someone either really hated this car or wanted to flip it, because it has just 167 miles on the odometer.
Predictably, that comes with an astronomical asking price, at least for a 1988 Esprit. The Hemmings listing states the car is for sale to the tune of $126,000. That's roughly $23,000 more than the MSRP on an Emira. So, we built one on Lotus' configurator to get a handle on which one we'd rather have.
First, the Esprit. Obviously, this is the closest anyone will ever get to a new one, at least for the foreseeable future. This one is a Turbo, which means a turbo-four with 215 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. That's pretty hefty for the late 1980s. A five-speed manual drives the rear wheels, and the car cost $70,645 brand new back in '88.
Its Pearl white and blue interior make this an anniversary edition and still wears the original factory tires. It also comes with the original window sticker and, according to the owner, has had "zero issues."
Right now, the highest offer in Hemmings sits at $80,000, a far cry under what our as-spec'd Emira came out to. Largely because we were able to get the optimum Emira for $93,900, pictured below. Lotus doesn't charge for pretty much anything on the V6 Emira, but we got "ours" with the Verdant green paint, yellow stitched Alcantara interior, and yellow brakes paired with the lightweight wheels.
Now obviously, the new Emira will be faster, with 400 horsepower, more usable, and likely more reliable- barring any massive technical and/or mechanical issues from Geely and Toyota. It'll feel more sterile than the Esprit because it's newer as well. But the crux of the issue is that the Emira is significantly cheaper.
So, unless you really, really need that 80s Lotus nostalgia hit, you'd probably be better served by a Lotus that's 34 years newer and has nearly double the power.