1989 Lotus Esprit

Turbo SE Coupe 2.2 L

Vehicle values by condition

Condition 4
#4 cars are daily drivers, with flaws visible to the naked eye. The chrome might have pitting or scratches, the windshield might be chipped.
Condition 3
#3 cars could possess some, but not all of the issues of a #4 car, but they will be balanced by other factors such as a fresh paint job or a new, correct interior.
Condition 2
#2 cars could win a local or regional show. They can be former #1 cars that have been driven or have aged. Seasoned observers will have to look closely for flaws.
Condition 1
#1 vehicles are the best in the world. The visual image is of the best car, unmodified, in the right colours, driving onto the lawn at the finest concours.
Insurance premium for a
1989 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE Coupe 2174
valued at £21,000
£329.15 / year*

History of the 1987 - 1993 Lotus Esprit

1987 - 1993 Lotus Esprit
1987 - 1993 Lotus Esprit
Lotus Esprit Turbo SE (Coupe), 1989-1993

The Lotus Esprit Turbo SE was in production from 1989 until 1993. Styled by Peter Stevens, it is a mid-engine, rear wheel drive sportscar seating two adults.

A high powered evolution of the X180 Esprit Turbo, the SE built upon the previous drivetrain drawn from the outgoing Turbo HC with clever engine management and a water cooled intercooler Lotus dubbed a “charge cooler”. This boosted power from 215bhp to 264bhp – and, if the ambient temperature was low enough, it was possible to achieve 280bhp for short periods of time. The most expensive Esprit to have been produced at the time of its launch, it was offered with luxurious standard features including a burr walnut dashboard, leather trim, air conditioning and a tilt/lift out sunroof, along with an ice alert for winter. A radio fitting kit was included, but the choice of radio was left to the purchaser. For 1992, the SE was modified into what became known as the “high wing” model, which lost the glass cover over the rear and raised the spoiler in part to improve visibility out of the back. The doors were altered to open wider and the interior rejigged to feel more spacious, In addition to the visibility benefits the new wing aided to speed, which was now 165mph.

The Turbo SE was discontinued in 1993, prior to the introduction of the Esprit S4. No mechanical changes were made to the SE from introduction to discontinuation.

By supercar standards the Esprit is quiet and refined – a GT among supercars. Yes, there’s tyre and wind noise, but once warm the engine is well suppressed. An excellent ride is another plus point, but the brakes in an effort to be as easy to use as the rest of the car perhaps feel a shade over-servoed. The steering is lighter than in the older car, but feels a shade less sharp with it. This hasn’t affected the Esprit’s excellent balance when adjustments are made mid corner, though. Well spaced gears with close ratios between third, fourth and fifth, the Esprit Turbo SE is a very driveable supercar, and one which with excellent handling and driver communication flatters you as much as its predecessor did. There’s a shade more space than an earlier example, but it’s still tight for taller drivers. It feels like an upmarket place inside courtesy of the wood and leather, too.

Glassfibre repair isn’t a DIY job, so check thoroughly for cracking, crazing, or poor paintwork. Check to see when the timing belt was changed – they’re a five year/25000 mile job, and it’s safer to err on the side of caution. Regular oil changes are vital, and new plugs recommended with each change, so check that this has been done. The impeller on the water pump for the chargecooler can fail – many have been replaced by now with electric pumps, and this is worth investigating if it’s not been done. Check for loose manifold bolts and turbo bolts – both generate considerable heat and may have loosened over time.

High wing cars are more desirable owing to their marginally more roomy interiors, better visibility and improved top speed, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the earlier cars. Buy one in a good, bright colour or a strong metallic, and aim for the best, lowest mileage example you can find with the thickest history file from specialists.

By this point in time the Esprit Turbo was a comfortable rival for the Porsche 91 Turbo and the MVS Venturi, making these viable alternatives. The Ferrari 348 and Alpine A610 should also be on the Esprit enthusiast’s shopping list, as should examples of the earlier Esprit Turbo HC.

All 1989 Lotus Esprit body types

Year Make Model Submodel Body Type Engine size Average value
1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE Coupe 2.2 L £ 14,900 21,000 32,200 39,500
1987 Lotus Esprit HC Coupe 2.2 L £ 10,900 15,700 22,800 32,300
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