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By Drew Johnson

Lotus has taken the wraps off its all-new Elite at the Paris Motor Show. Showing Lotus’ up-scale push, the all-new GT will go head-to-head with vehicles like the Ferrari California.

Designed as a “modern classic”, the Elite sports a new exterior design for the British automaker, although a few ties to Lotus’ current lineup remain. Lotus designers look to have taken a few design cues from Mazda and Maserati, but the Elite remains a unique looking vehicle and sticks to Lotus’ new ‘elegant’ design philosophy.

The Elite features a cozy cockpit with a high center console, giving the driver a wrap-around feeling. Like its competition from Italy, the Elite sports a 2+2 seating configuration.

In order to better compete with Ferrari, the Elite will be available with a retractable hardtop. However, hardtop versions of the Elite won’t exactly be ‘lightweight and simple’, weighing in at a very un-Lotus like 3,637 pounds.

But that added weight doesn’t mean the Elite will be a performance slouch, thanks to its front mid-mounted 5.0L V8. Presumably the same engine found under the hood of the Lexus IS F, Lotus engineers have spent some time tweaking the mill, upping its power to 620 horsepower. Lotus says the Elite will be capable of accelerating from 0-62 in as little as 3.5 seconds.

No fuel economy figures were released but the Elite should be a little less thirsty that you average supercar. The Elite will use a KERS hybrid transmission, which has been shown to improve fuel economy by as much as 20 percent in other applications.

Although the Elite is now on display, potential buyers will have to wait quite a bit longer. The Elite isn’t slated to hit Lotus dealerships until early 2014. On the plus side, that should give buyers plenty of time to save up the $180,000 required to purchase the Elite.



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