Lotus shows how to enrage the motoring journo

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LOTUS this week fired up an apoplectic rage of motoring journos exploring ingeniously creative alternative takes on the image of Colin Chapman spinning in his grave (I respectfully bowed out after I read Autoblog’s hybrid quip…).

Why? Because the firm has announced its intention to move upmarket.

Lotus will, in the future, be about challenging Ferrari and Porsche, in their exalted price brackets, rather than being the next obvious trade up from a Caterham.

And with this, many have assumed, comes a move away from everything the brand stands for. Lightweight, simple, light, affordable, only add lightness, don’t weigh much, all of these will be thrown out of the window, it is predicted, when Lotus starts instead selling Plutocratic Panamera rivals.

Me, though, I’m a dissenter. I reckon it’s just what Lotus should be doing. And, get this, feel Colin Chapman would agree.

Why? Well, why did he start making road cars in the first place? To finance the racing car team. And the more you can charge for those cars, the more money you have to go racing. Bingo.

OK, one of the first Lotus was the simplistic Seven. But this gradually moved over for higher-profit, more upmarket models, such as the Elite, the Eclat and, yes, the iconic Esprit. The period price lists reflected the trend, showed Chapman’s thinking.

So, why not the same approach today? After all, Lotus carries stonking brand currency. It’s back in F1, and doing a pretty good job to boot (as I write, a Lotus sits on the Valencia grid in 19th. Million-time World Champ Michael Schumacher, in the big-bucks Benz F1 team? 15th…).

It would be remiss of management not to trade on this value. Besides, who’s to say a move upmarket will distill the famed Lotusness? Isn’t there more opportunity for lightweight innovation and clever tech details with higher-margin cars – and wouldn’t Chapman have relished the opportunity?

Besides, it’s not even as if the aged Elise itself is all that cheap anymore. No, I’m all for it.

And if part of the move means Caterham can buy the production line for the Elise, and carry on the tradition with a sister to the Seven, then power to ‘em…

+ Do you agree with me?
+ Can Lotus pull off a move upmarket?
+ Just HOW cool would a Caterham Elise be?

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