The awesome Esprit Turbo was launched in tremendous style at London's Royal Albert Hall. The party also celebrated Team Lotus' new sponsor, Essex Petroleum; the first 100 Esprit Turbos were to be built in Team Essex Lotus racing livery. Looking even more outrageous than the normally aspirated version, the (Type 82) Esprit Turbo boasted a new galvanised chassis, new suspension, and a 210bhp 16-valve turbocharged 2.2-litre engine. Its performance took it straight into the supercar league - 150mph+ and 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds. Following the Esprit Turbo’s introduction, the other models were updated with the latest 2.2-litre Lotus engine and a galvanised chassis, with the Elite and Eclat also benefiting from new interiors, instrumentation and switchgear. The Lotus line-up is now: Elite S2, Eclat S2, Esprit S2.2 (an interim model developed from the S2), and the Turbo.
On the racing front, the skirts on 'ground effect' F1 cars pioneered by Team Lotus (introduced on the Type 78) were banned by the sport's governing body; Chapman and the Team Lotus engineers once more had to apply some lateral thinking. Setting up a race car's suspension for the best aerodynamic effect meant that the driver wasn't sufficiently protected from road shocks, but a softer suspension compromised the aerodynamics.
To resolve this, the Lotus Type 86 began development, with two separate chassis and two separate suspension systems. The car was a prototype and technology demonstrator and was tested extensively during the 1980 season.
During this season Lotus competed in the Type 81 Formula One race car.