When looking at mid- to high-end sports cars, many people look to European brands like Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar for a balance between performance and luxury. However, some drivers don't necessarily want heated seats and rosewood dashboards; they want something that screams down the road and takes turns so tightly an astronaut would lose his lunch. The serious driver who forsakes amenities for performance and handling would do well to look at a Lotus.
Roots in racing
The brand began in 1948, according to the Lotus website, when founder Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman, often referred to as Colin Chapman, started tinkering with a 1930s Austin in his girlfriend's parents garage near London to create a better racing car by making it lighter and simpler but designed better than typical offerings. Chapman, a brilliant engineer, created innovative designs and cars that were winning British racing championships within a few years after launching the company.
His philosophy was to make cars that were brilliantly engineered but very light. He famously said that raw power will make a car "faster on the straights," but lightweight cars with good handling are "faster everywhere," according to Wikipedia.
Lotus was one of the best racing teams in history for decades, with Lotus drivers winning six Formula 1 championships and featuring drivers like Mario Andretti and Graham Hill, the only man to win the auto racing "Triple Crown" by winning a Formula 1 championship, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.
Iconic road cars
The road cars made by Lotus over the years have been every bit the street counterpart to the cars that Lotus put on the track. Lightness, simplicity and unparalleled handling are the hallmarks of a Lotus, and the iconic brand has been featured on television shows like "The Prisoner" and films such as "Pretty Woman" and several James Bond films.
The modern Lotus will get from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds, but because they all come with four- or six-cylinder Toyota engines, they get incredible gas mileage as well.
Lotuses are designed to handle better than anything else on the road. Drivers looking for the apex in comfort would do well to look elsewhere, but for those looking for a car that delivers a drive unlike any other for less than $80,000, Lotus is the obvious choice.