Lotus will launch an all-new sports car in 2021. It’s internally known as the Type 131 and, when it eventually reaches the UK market, it’ll be the British brand’s first all-new model in 12 years.
However, the Type 131 won’t replace any of Lotus’s existing vehicles. It’ll sit somewhere between the Exige and Evora in the company’s line-up,and it will adhere to the Lotus mantra of “simplify, then add lightness.”
Little is known about the Type 131’s specification, other than that it’ll be based on an all-new, lightweight platform. Contrary to early rumours, the new sports car will shun hybrid drive in favour of a purely combustion powered reliant powertrain, in the interest of weight reduction.
This decision means that, for the time being, Lotus will reserve electrification for its flagship Evija hypercar. It’s also possible that Lotus could source the Type 131’s engines from within parent company Geely’s roster, rather than relying on Toyota.
Back in 2019, Lotus’s CEO, Phil Popham, outlined the Type 131 project to Auto Express last year. He said: “We’re busy now investing in a pretty aggressive business plan that will deliver an all-new sports car next year. It’ll be shown towards the end of next year and go on sale some time after that. We are investing in new platforms as well.
Popham continued, saying: “The [Type 131], won’t be all-electric – unlike the hypercar, which will. Beyond that, whatever cars we have will include BEV [pure-electric] derivatives. It’s not the only propulsion system we’re working on, but BEV will be part of it.”
On Lotus’s potential shift to Geely-sourced engines, Popham said: “Our engines at the moment come from Toyota, but we will have access to powertrains that exist within the group today and powertrains that are under development. But we’re not restricted to that. We’re very free to collaborate with, and source from, other manufacturers.
“What we won’t do, however, is just stick a badge on a group product. We can get access to platforms, engineering expertise and resources. But if we are to produce a car in a new segment, it’s got to be true to the DNA of Lotus. We’ve got to be involved right from the start of the engineering of any new platform.”
Our exclusive images preview how the finished car could look. The Type 131 looks set to incorporate elements of the second-generation Elan, with a similarly low nose and broad stance. Like all of Lotus’s current combustion-engined models, this new sports car will also be mid-engined.
Lotus’s future product plans
This new sports car’s Type 131 nomenclature suggests there are a few more models waiting in the wings on the company’s timeline, as it leaves four potential models empty between the Type 130/Evija hypercar and the last Lotus to use the naming pattern – the ill-fated Type 125 Exos track day car.
It has long been rumoured that Lotus is piecing together an SUV project – and, when asked if such a vehicle had been accounted for in the company’s future product plans, Popham refused to rule out the possibility.
“I wouldn’t discount anything,” he said. “We’re a premium brand, not a volume brand, with premium products, premium price, and a premium offering. But as for the segments we can go into, I wouldn’t discount anything from sedans, GTs and crossovers to SUVs.
“The key is that you’ve got to be able to produce a car that’s true to the DNA, that is for drivers. That means different things in different segments, of course – but nevertheless, it’s got to be a Lotus, it’s got to appeal and it’s got to make us money. If it can’t do those three things then we won’t go into the segment.
What does the new Lotus Type 131 have to beat? Check out our list of the best sports cars on sale now…