When you think Lotus, you think diminutive, somewhat stripped-back sportscars, but the company is signaling a new direction with the roll-out of the Elite production prototype at the Paris Motor Show later this month. The 2+2 Elite GT is, well, bigger – more room, more comfort, more weight (at 1650kg it's almost 300kg heavier than the Evora) and a front-mid positioned 5.0-litre V8 engine delivering up to 456kW and 720Nm of torque. There's also a hybrid technology option with Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) on offer as well as a retractable hardtop version. The promised performance specs are impressive – 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in around 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 315 km/h (195 mph). If you're in the market for a supercar in the US$180K price range you'll have to be patient though, the Lotus Elite isn't scheduled for production until 2014.

“There’s no denying that the Elite is breathtakingly beautiful to look at, but it’s so much more than that: it’s a car that over-delivers in all other aspects as well," said Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus. "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.

We'll take a closer look at these "perfect contradictions" when we head to Paris next week. Stay tuned for more details and images … in the meantime, here are the preliminary specs.

Lotus Elite specification

Layout:  2+2 seater, front-mid-engined, rear-wheel drive
  • Dimensions: Length: 4.60m, width: 1.90m, height: 1.32m 

  • Engine: 5.0-litre V8, optional hybrid technology gearbox with integrated electric motors and KERS
Power: 456kW (620ps), maximum of 8500rpm

  • Torque: 720Nm (with KERS)

  • 0-100 km/h: 3.5-3.7 seconds
Top speed: 315km/h 

  • CO₂/km: 215g/km (with KERS)

  • Weight: 1650kg 

  • Scheduled production/on sale: 2014