Used Lotus Esprit Coupe 1993 - 2003 review

Category: Sports car

The interior betrays the Esprit's 1980s heritage, but it's a proper supercar

Lotus Esprit Coupe
  • Lotus Esprit Coupe
  • Lotus Esprit Coupe
Used Lotus Esprit Coupe 1993 - 2003 review
Star rating

What's the used Lotus Esprit coupe like?

Okay, so the basic design is 25 years old, but that doesn't matter if the driving experience is this good. A proper member of the supercar pack, the Esprit's got pin-sharp steering and goes in and out of corners with balance and poise. The ride is cracking, too. There's a real suppleness to it that you don't expect from a two-seater coupe that's so close to the road.

Versions in the 1998-2003 bracket were very refined in comparison with early ones, and the rough edges had been smoothed out. Sadly, the engine doesn't make a V8-style noise.


The interior betrays the Esprit's 1980s heritage, but it's a proper supercar

  • The Esprit delivers excellent handling, quick acceleration and good fuel economy
  • It has a cramped cockpit, a lack of safety equipment
  • and the V8's engine note is all wrong

Getting in the cabin isn't easy, with low doors and even lower sills. Once you're inside, the car can't hide its 1980s heritage; it looks and feels dated by modern standards and anyone approaching six feet tall will struggle to get in it. There are no airbags, and the boot is small, too.

Ownership cost

What used Lotus Esprit coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Lotus Esprit coupe?

There's quite a lot of bad news here and only a little bit of good. If you're looking for a car that's going to be cheap to buy and run, the Esprit isn't it. The two-seater's formidable reputation goes before it, so you'll have to pay top dollar for these end-of-life examples.

Needless to say, parts are expensive, and the service intervals are an eye-watering 6000 miles apart. Our advice would be talk to owners about running costs before buying. Internet fan forums are a good place to start.

Insurance cover will also hit your wallet hard, as you're looking at a maximum group 20 policy with all Esprits.

There is some good news, however - you won't have to fill it up as often as you might think. Fuel economy is actually pretty good for a car of this type, with the official figure a respectable 21mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used Lotus Esprit coupe should I buy?

Three models were available and specialist dealers who know the Esprit well are the best place to look for them.

The standard V8 was launched in 1996, powered by a 3.5-litre 349bhp turbocharged engine linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. In 1998, there was an improved model with a revised interior and some mechanical changes. There followed another upgrade in 2002, when it got new wheels and rear light clusters.

The basic V8 is the one we like best, and if you can find a post-2002 example, it will hold its value best. The second version was the V8 GT, which sold from 1997-2001, and was essentially a V8 with GT3 trim. Finally, there was the GT3 itself, which was a stripped-out model - no wood or leather here - with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo unit and 240bhp. It was available from 1996-99.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Lotus Esprit coupe?