Here’s Why The 1999 Esprit Sport 350 Was The Ultimate Lotus


Arguably, the Lotus Sport 350 was the most aggressive Esprit of them all. Revealed in 1999, this glorious machine was hailed the fastest Esprit ever to be developed at the Hethel factory UK. There’s no doubt Lotus had produced a supercar beater with thumping performance. Reportedly, fifty Sport 350’s were proposed for production by Lotus; however, only forty-two left the Lotus factory, making it a rare investment.

Furthermore, While Lotus had produced many brilliant sports cars in its long history, by the mid-1990s, the Esprit needed an update. It’s true to say that the Lotus Esprit had undergone consistent development since 1987; however, it was struggling to compete against the offerings from Ferrari and Porsche. As a result, the iconic wedge design underwent a mild facelift and some mechanical tweaks for the Sport 350, which now supported a carbon fiber rear wing, similar to the X180R race car. Not forgetting the 350 decals splashed on the side of the car, reminding the owner of its rarity.

It’s true to say, sharp handling and steering have been embedded in the Esprit DNA since day one and have been evident across the range. However, the Esprit Sport 350 went a step further by introducing race car dynamics for the road. Unequivocally, Lotus once again managed to provide that sense of connection between the driver, the car, and the tarmac. However, the raw characteristics of the Sport 350 were more suited to track where it became a missile.

There’s no doubt, the Lotus Esprit Sport 350 was an impressive British sports car.

Here’s What The High-Performing Espirit 350 Costs Today

1999 Lotus Espirit 350

Via: Silverstone Auctions

The Esprit Sport 350 is a rarity, even in the specialist market. However, they are not ludicrously expensive as you might think. Prices at specialist auction houses can start from $50,000. No doubt a bargain for this rare supercar slayer!

The Lotus Esprit was always regarded as a capable machine, albeit underrated. The Sport 350, however, became a precision tool for serious drivers. Acceleration was nothing short of impressive with that manic turbo surging behind the driver. Moreover, power delivery felt much punchier than the standard V8, thanks to an upgraded six-speed transmission.

Under the hood was a 3.5-liter V8, which produced 350 hp at the rear wheels, giving it a top speed of 175 mph. As the ultimate iteration of the Esprit, it came fitted with AP Racing brakes, stiffer springs, a revised ECU, gorgeous magnesium OZ wheels, and an array of carbon fiber components. Moreover, with the upgrades, the Esprit Sport 350 gave a sensational driving experience, treading dangerously close to the toes of the Porsche 911 Turbo.

The Esprit Sport 350 was 176 lbs lighter than the standard V8 GT. Weighing in at under 2,900 lbs, the Lotus could sprint to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Moreover, the Esprit Sport 350 had excellent stopping power too. The car could go from 0 to 60 mph in an incredible 3.2 seconds. No doubt, it was behind the wheel that set the 350 Sport apart from other Esprits. Its analog character and lightness on the tarmac disguised its flaws.

The Espirit 350’s Sporty Cabin

1999 Lotus Espirit 350

Via: Silverstone Auctions

The cabin of the Lotus Sport 350 was revamped and featured part leather, part Alcantara bucket seats. In traditional Esprit fashion, though, entering and climbing out of the cabin remained awkward due to the wide sills and low seating position.

Flawed it may have been, the switchgear was perfectly positioned and a vast improvement over the previous Esprit’s. In addition, it had clear dials fitted behind the gorgeous Momo steering wheel. Moreover, the Sport 350 provided a race car ambiance, denoting the intention of this vehicle.

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