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Mastretta MXT is One Hot Tamale

Mexico’s first sports car comes to LA.

by on Nov.18, 2011

Mastretta wants to begin selling Mexico's first sports car in the U.S. next year.

We’ve seen plenty of cars come in from Mexico, in recent years, as more and more makers take advantage of that country’s low labor costs and proximity to both the U.S. and fast-growing markets in Latin America.  What we haven’t seen are cars produced by a Mexican car company.  Until now, anyway.

That’s about to change with the upcoming launch of the new Mastretta MXT, a Lotus Elise-sized 2-seater being billed as Mexico’s first-ever sports car.

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The Mastretta MXT got its introduction, this week, at the L.A. Auto Show, founder and product chief Daniel Mastretta suggesting the MXT is an example of “form following racing car design.  But it’s a practical car that people can use every day.”

The semi-monocoque aluminum design makes use of lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, to enhance its strength while also holding down weight – which comes to just 2,100 pounds.

The MXT was developed inside-out says designer Daniel Mastretta, body and chassis seen here

The vehicle, asserts Mastretta, was developed “from the inside-out,” to put an emphasis on usable performance from a small package measuring just 153.5 inches nose-to-tail, 69 inches wide and 46 inches tall.  The little roadster’s wheelbase in 95.1 inches.

Power comes from a 16-valve intercooled turbo version of the Ford Duratec, an inline-four engine of 2.0-liters displacement.  The Mexican manufacturer claims it will make 260 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque, channeled through a 5-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels.

The maker is claiming 0 to 60 times of just 4.9 seconds, only a bit slower than the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera.

The MXT is being assembled by Tecnoidea, an engineering and design firm, at a plant in Mexico City.  The firm bills itself as Mexico’s only native automaker.

Expect to see the Mastretta MXR reach the U.S. early next year with the price tag tentatively set at somewhere between $60,000 and $65,000, according to company officials.

Setting up a U.S. distribution network is a work in progress.  But if Mastretta can pull it off, the start-up maker will be targeting buyers who might have opted for the Lotus Elise had the British company not halted imports this year.

Lotus Delaying Elan, Using Cash to Develop New V-8

British maker hopes to use in-house engine, rather than Toyota powertrain.

by on Jun.13, 2011

Lotus will delay its next-gen Elan in order to develop its own V8 for the new Esprit supercar.

Little Lotus dropped a bombshell at last year’s Paris Motor Show, announcing plans to roll out five all-new products in quick succession over the next few years.  Power for most, perhaps all, the offerings would come from Toyota, which has had a long-running relationship with Lotus.


Skeptics have questioned the British maker’s ability to fund the project, which carried a projected cost of about $1.2 billion.  And, indeed, it now appears Lotus is rejigging its plans, but not because they were too ambitious, the maker insists.  If anything, the Brits are looking at an even more elaborate strategy, one that could see them power those future offerings with a trio of engines developed in-house.

What appears certain is that the striking new Lotus Esprit, which is expected to carry a price tag nudging up towards $200,000, will rely on a new, naturally-aspirated liter V-8 of “under” 5.0-liters in displacement.  Originally, the Esprit, Elite and Eterne models were all going to turn to Toyota, which had agreed to share a supercharged version of the V-8 it uses in the brutish Lexus IS-F.

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Expect that with the in-house V-8, the Esprit will get “horsepower at least in the mid-500 range,” Kevin Smith, the U.S. spokesman for Lotus, confided in


To come up with the cash needed to develop the new engine, the next-generation Lotus Elan will be delayed until the rest of the new product line-up rolls out, which should mean sometime after 2016, it appears.


First Look: Lotus City Car

Design could incorporate hybrid, plug-in or battery drive.

by on Dec.20, 2010

Lotus plans to launch this city car by late 2013.

Lotus is the latest automaker hoping to convince buyers that small doesn’t have to mean cheap, as it releases the first images of a proposed city car that could hit market by late 2013.

As urban streets get more crowded and regulators press for big increases in fuel efficiency, even the most high-line automakers are looking for downsized alternatives, and the as yet-unnamed Lotus city car, which was first discussed by CEO Dany Bahar in Britain’s Car magazine, is one approach.

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Looking a bit like a modernized, four-door take on the Smart fortwo, the tall Lotus three-door uses a platform specifically designed for an extended-range electric driveline.  A 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine would most likely serve as a generator which, in turn, provides current to the vehicle’s electric motors.

It’s unclear whether Lotus might try to offer other driveline options, such as a pure battery-electric model, or a more conventional hybrid.  Bahar did note that several versions will be developed, including a sporty model.  Battery power actually lends itself to performance, as electric motors generate maximum torque as soon as they start spinning.


Lotus Drops 5-Car Surprise At Paris Preview

British maker’s grand transformation includes sedan, hybrid – and lightweight sports cars.

by on Oct.01, 2010

The Lotus Elite is one of five new models coming from the British maker over the next few years.

The long-struggling British sports car maker, Lotus, gave us a wee tease of what they had in mind for the Paris Motor Show, some weeks back, when they released some tantalizing shots of the Elite concept vehicle.

Little did we – or, apparently, anyone else – suspect the much bigger news that would emerge at the Mondial de l’Automobile, a roll-out of five new concept vehicles intended to put in motion a grand reinvention of the Lotus brand.

The first model we got a glimpse of was the Lotus Elite (Click Here for the full story).  Set to go into production in April 2013, according to CEO Dany Bahar, the 2+2 will make elegant use of the new relationship between Lotus and Toyota Motor Co.  The Japanese giant has agreed to provide the muscle to move the Lotus brand from niche to mainstream, quite literally.

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For the Elite Concept, that means a mid-mounted V8 that drives a high-performance hybrid driveline – putting Lotus in line with all the other sporty and high-line brands that have come to Paris with electrified sports cars.  A “perfect contradiction,” suggests Bahar of the idea of putting the promisingly green technology into a high-performance model like Elite.


Lotus, Toyota Expanding Ties On Track And Street

Makers planning announcements at upcoming Paris Motor Show.

by on Sep.20, 2010

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and Lotus CEO Danny Bahar in Elise R.

When the tarp is lifted at the upcoming Paris Motor Show look for Lotus to unveil more than just a new model.  The British maker plans to announce details of its expanded partnership with Toyota, an alliance that is expected to involve both street and racing efforts.

Promising to “take (their) relationship to the next level,” the two makers intend to work together on “tailor-made powertrain solutions for Lotus cars,” they say.  The news was a significant development, presenting a positive spin on what could have been  troubling development for little Lotus.

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The British maker has long depended on Toyota engines for products like the Elise and Exige, but Toyota has pulled the plug on the torque little 2ZZ-GE engine used in those two-seaters.


Is a New Lotus Esprit Coming to Paris?

British maker hints of something big to come during upcoming motor show.

by on Jul.21, 2010

Is Lotus about to unveil a successor to its legendary Esprit sports car?

Hey 007, Lotus might be developing a successor to your ride in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Or, maybe not.

The British sports and race car maker has issued a cryptically worded press release that says it expects to make a major announcement at the Paris Auto Show.

“Perhaps a new Esprit,” the automaker teases. “Perhaps not. Or perhaps [something] even more?”

Lotus produced the Esprit, possibly the most recognizable car in its history, from 1976 to 2004.

But it took James Bond to give the Esprit that extra push in the 1977 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” where the super-sleuth famously drove one into the water where it became a submarine to make one of his always spectacular escapes from the bad guys.

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Actor Richard Gere wasn’t quite so adept with the Esprit’s manual gearbox in 1989’s “Pretty Woman,” which created a chance encounter with a streetwalker played by Julia Roberts.  Not only did she have a heart of gold, but she knew how to shift.