Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to All Our Content
lotus esprit s2.2

Lotus Esprit S2.2

1980-1981 Lotus Esprit S2.2

Years: 1980-1981
Names: Series 2.2 / S2.2 / Type 79
Units: 88
Engine: 2,174 cc inline 4
Power: 160 bhp
Torque: 160 lb/ft
0-60 mph: 6.7 secs

The S2.2 was a stop-gap model introduced in May 1980 whose only major difference from the S2 was a 2.2 L type 912 engine. Engine power output was unchanged but torque rose from 140 lb/ft to 160 lb/ft. The S2.2 received a galvanised chassis. It was rare with only 88 units made.

The lowest production catalogue model, an S2.2 not only has a rarity value but also a historical one. It marks the introduction of the vastly improved 2.2-litre Lotus engine. Compared to the S1/S2, the biggest apparent gains should be at the wheel, where the extra flexibility makes the car a lot friendlier in urban and suburban conditions. There is also a significant gain in fuel consumption. Performance was better. More realistic Lotus claims indicate 0-60 mph in around 7 seconds and an 80-100 mph time in fifth gear that was effectively halved.

A distinct one-year-and-one-month production stopgap, the Lotus Esprit S2.2 brought some important changes to Esprit engineering; changes that have been kept in the nineties: 2.2-litre Lotus engines and chassis galvanization. Both these improvements were sold under the slogan ‘When you arrive in a Lotus — you’ve arrived!’ The launch cost during May 1980 was £14,951. The last recorded list price (in 1981) was £15,270. That was in line with the normal Lotus practice of pitching their Esprit wares in the price region of the classic Porsche 911.

Introduction as the ‘Lotus 2.2-litre series’ the larger engine was installed for the front-engine Eclat, and Elite, as well as the Esprit S2.2. Individually badged as ‘Esprit 2.2′, but dressed in pure S2 clothing — right down to the Dunlop-shod Speedlines — the interim Esprit carried Lotus between the seventies’ generation of Esprits and the new generation of Turbo and S3 models in the eighties.

Related: Esprit Ultimate GuideCurrent LineupLotus Models / Lotus News

Inherent changes in transforming a 2.0-litre type 907 found in the S1/S2 into a 2.2-litre type 912 included:

  • Thin disc flywheel
  • Replacement sump to suit Sunbeam hatchback saloon (for a consultancy for Chrysler UK)
  • Uprating of main bearing support panels
  • Replacement of camshafts
  • Re-jetted Dell’Orto DHLA 45E twin-choke, downdraught carburettors

Esprit S2.2 production spanned only 1980 to 1981 with on 88 examples made.


Model 1980-1981 Lotus Esprit S2.2
Engine Lotus 912 2174 cc four-cylinder in-line, 16-valve DOHC, two Dellorto DHLA4SE sidedraught carburettors
Bore & Stroke 95.29 x 76.2mm
Compression 9.4:1
Block & Head Aluminum alloy
Power 160 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque 160 lb/ft @ 5,000 rpm
Body/Chassis Glassfibre-reinforced plastic body with galvanised steel backbone chassis. Passenger compartment encapsulated in a ‘safety-cell structure’
Transmission Five-speed manual unit. Rear-wheel drive.
Clutch 9.5in diaphragm spring, hydraulically operated.
Brakes Front – 9.7 in discs, Rear – 10.6 in inboard discs
Steering Rack-and-pinion, Castor: 3 to 3.5 degrees, Kingpin: 9 degrees.
Suspension (Front) Independent unequal length wishbones and coil springs. Telescopic shock absorbers. Anti-roll bar.
Suspension (Rear) Independent diagonal trailing arms and lateral link with fixed-length driveshaft,
coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers.
Wheels & Tyres Front: 7J x 14, 195/60 HR14, Rear: 7.5J x 14, 205/70 HR14
Weight 1980 lb (898 kg)


Top Speed 123 mph
0-62 mph 6.8 seconds

Lotus Esprit Series 2.2 Press Release

If you seek the excitement of driving a true British Sports Car in the Colin Chapman tradition then the Lotus Esprit Series 2.2 is the car for you. Directly descended from a long thoroughbred line of successful Grand Prix winners, the Esprit provides the perfect blend of the designer’s search for beauty and the engineer’s desire for efficiency.

This mid-engined, two seater sports car have been styled by Giugiaro to provide the epitome of high performance luxury for you and your chosen companion.

As you lower yourself into the deep cushioned seats of the cockpit you feel as though the car has been moulded especially for you. The comprehensive controls are all at your fingertips — the excitement of true high performance is yours to experience in luxurious comfort.

On the road you’ll find the perfect balance of the Esprit is translated into precision steering so light and positive that you feel as if you’re thinking your way through corners, bends and curves rather than indulging in physical effort. And you do it all in Lotus two-level safety.The primary safety of surefooted performance and braking plus the secondary safety feature of the body and chassis design.

In town or on the open road, the Lotus Esprit Series 2.2 offers a rare motoring experience — that many will envy, few will ever acquire.