Think of Lotus, the small British sports car manufacturer, and you probably think of small, cramped but agile drivers’ cars like the Exige Coupé or the Elise Roadster. Low on creature comforts and big on power to weight ratios, Lotus cars have traditionally focused on performance, not environmental credentials. 

But that’s about to change, according to Group Lotus chief executive Danny Bahar.

As part of his plan to turn Lotus into the “British Porsche”, Bahar has outlined the future of the tiny British firm.  And that future includes hybrid drivetrains. 

Speaking with Pistonheads yesterday, Bahar revealed that the base level version of the 2013 Esprit -- the first new Lotus model he has overseen development of since joining the company in 2009 -- will come with a hybrid drivetrain. 

Configured as what Bahar terms a “more mainstream” version of the car, the base level Esprit will come with a 74 kilowatt electric motor married to a powerful V8 engine, which we previously learned could produce up to  570 horsepower. 

2013 Lotus Esprit

2013 Lotus Esprit

Designed completely in-house, the Lotus-engineered V8 should marry up with the powerful electric motor to give an impressive 0-60 time, while regenerative braking systems taken from Lotus’ Formula 1 KERS system will help the new sports car super-quickly. 

Set to be unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, there’s no official fuel consumption figures for the 2013 Esprit yet, although given its sporting heritage we’d hardly expect it to produce fuel economy figures anywhere near cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius. 

But that isn’t really the point. 

So what is it?

It’s this: hybrid drivetrains aren’t just for squares and hippies any more. It’s for people who want to drive fast, people who want the extra power. And people who don’t want to compromise the thrill of driving for fuel efficiency. 

Or almost. Lotus will build a hybrid Esprit, but for serious drivers who want a track-day car, the hybrid system will be removed and replaced with an even more powerful V8 capable of producing 640 horsepower.  

2013 Lotus Esprit Concept

2013 Lotus Esprit Concept

In addition, Lotus will strip out every last bit of weight, making sure nothing but the essentials -- which include carbon-fiber seats -- remain to get as much speed out of the V8 engine as possible.  Naturally, it will also cost you more. 

In other words, the 2013 Esprit will come in two forms: a reasonably efficient, but sporty car with creature comforts and at least an attempt to produce less emissions -- or a noisy, less-powerful race car that won’t be happy on anything other than a raceway. 

We think we know which one most people will choose.