Shock Paris debut for Lotus Elite

Lotus has sensationally revealed an all-new supercar called the Elite, which will debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

The hybrid show car has a 612bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine incorporating electric motors, although a conventional petrol model will be available too.

It uses a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) to charge a battery pack powering twin electric motors. The motors will boost acceleration, but it's not known whether the car will be able to drive on electricity alone.

However, considering its vast power output, and estimated 0-62mph sprint of just 3.5 seconds, its 215g/km likely CO2 output is remarkable.

The pictures you see here - which were first revealed on Facebook - reveal a dramatic new styling direction from the British company as it takes direct aim at Aston Martin.

The Elite is a 2+2 coupé, which means it has a pair of small rear seats, and Lotus has already indicated it will cost around £115,000 when it's released in 2014. That makes it a direct rival to the Aston Martin DB9.

Initially the car will be a fixed roof coupé, though a version with an electric convertible top has also been confirmed.

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: "One could say it's a car of perfect contradictions, it's compact yet spacious, high performing yet low emitting, lightweight yet still reassuringly solid.

"There will always be those who believe that Lotus should stick to small sports cars but we didn't take the decision to design something like the Elite lightly, it's based on months of careful research and planning."

News of the Elite comes as something of a shock because Lotus was expected to unveil an Esprit replacement in Paris. It is rumoured that car will hit showrooms as early as 2012, priced higher than the Elite to compete with the two-seat Ferrari 458 Italia.

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