When F1 foes rally on the racetrack, us petrol heads receive machines to salivate over for the road. Here we have two examples - the Ferrari 308 and the Lotus Esprit Turbo - but which one is podium champion?
This is like pitting 007 against Magnum PI - both hold presence upon arrival and both will beat the bajesus out of you when the time calls. The cars are pretty much the same - so, which one would you prefer punch you in the face and run off with your wallet? Time to find out in this weeks Clash of the Classics.
Oh boy, the 70s designs are strong with these two. Wedge was in - and these both rock the wedge look with splendour.
Strangely, the Esprit hasn’t dated badly at all - still looking rather modern in comparison to other 1970s offerings. So what if there are panel gaps large enough to plant a flag, and so what if the rear lights are upside down Rover SD1 units and the door handles belong to a Morris Marina? The Lotus Esprit looks utterly amazing.
However, the Ferrari is no automotive dogs-dinner in comparison - it works with a sharp nose and blunt tail, akin to the Lotus, but the difference here is the 308 holds overlapping curves and fine detailing - leaving your jaw open upon first inspection.
Sadly, this battle is so heated we have to pick a winner for the looks round - and as both feature pop up headlights - we find it incredibly tough to do so, but quite frankly, the Lotus is simply too gorgeous to ignore.
The Esprit uses its 210bhp to propel you and a passenger to 60mph in 5.6 seconds, furthered on to a top speed of 149mph - long before your passenger stops screaming. The 308 works with 255 bhp and can take you 1mph faster (to 150mph) - but the 0-60 time is nearly an entire second slower.
As far as power goes, the Ferrari should win this - but it doesn’t. For using less power to beat the Ferrari at its own game, even if the 308 is ever so slightly faster at top whack, the Lotus bags the power round.
Both Lotus and Ferrari have established enviable reputations for holding the road - so this is going to get blood thirsty.
Boiling it down, the Ferrari works with heavier steering but the feeling for the road through the wheel is exemplarily. The Lotus isn’t quite the prancer you would expect - with slightly rubbery steering at low speeds, but it livens up the faster you travel. It too provides excellent feedback, but the downside arrives with wandering about in grooves worn into the roads. The cars width also makes tight cornering tricky.
The Ferrari suffers from a touch of understeer and offers a turning circle to rival a barge, but other than that, it doesn’t disappoint.
A Lotus succumbing to a handling battle? It certainly does here.
The Ferrari wins this round hands down. Swathed in red leather and capturing the essence of a proper Ferrari, this interior is nothing short of glorious.
The Lotus isn’t a torturous place to be, but it simply doesn’t capture the same magic the Ferrari offers in bucket loads. The driving position from either one will leave your hair standing on end however, and you will be superbly comfortable - but the Italians certainly know how to make an interior.
Living With Them
Running costs? We’ll leave you to shudder at the thought of early teens per gallon when taking it easy - and single digits when trying to destroy your back tyres.
Parts will carry the usual heavy burden of brand engineering; with the Ferrari likely to reduce you to tears come servicing time. The Lotus won’t be far behind - and if you end up with both we can promise you will suffer a hernia through sheer shock and woe.
It’ll be worth it though - as owners clubs are excellent groups to be a part of and the cars themselves are rewarding - with noise, looks and driving experience guaranteed to put a smile on your face. For this section, it really is stalemate.
Both of these vehicles are capable of fulfilling dreams and neither will leave you disappointed upon getting behind the wheel and setting off for an epic drive. Simple to drive and vice free, for the money paid the gained experience is hard to beat.
Sadly, we’ve got to pick the top dog and the title is handed over to the Ferrari 308. We would quite happily take both of them should we be able to, however.