Lotus Carlton

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For: Astounding performance, tremendous grip, phenomenal brakes.

Against: Poor gearchange, tacky cabin, price

Verdict: The mother of fast saloons

FOR THE TIME BEING AT LEAST, the Lotus Carlton is the fastest production saloon car in the world. Its performance is phenomenal, some of the more extreme statistics including a 0-140mph time of 24secs and 140-160mph time of 14.2secs.

The more conventional benchmarks aren't bad either. Zero to 60mph takes just 5.1secs, 0-100mph 11.1secs. Top speed? Almost certainly the far side of 175mph if Richard Noble's flying 164mph at Bruntingthorpe is anything to go by.

Fast enough for anyone - not that we ever doubted those now infamous performance claims that garnered so much free pre-launch publicity. But, in a sense, the jaw-dropping facility of the cold figures is irrelevant. What makes the Lotus Carlton a great supercar is the sober thoroughness of its conception and execution. It's a package with a chassis that safely and rewardingly deploys the gargantuan power and torque output of 377bhp and 419lbft - a package with simply the best brakes we've yet encountered on a road car.

Far from being a wicked, fire-breathing monster, it's as gentle and benign as a pussycat and, handled with respect and intelligence, extremely safe. But the verdict isn't all roses. With a dull-sounding engine, ponderous gearchange, lifeless steering and heavily damped responses, it's a little short on aural and tactile stimulation. That said, you don't need to be Ayrton Senna to drive it well.

cc 3615
max bhp 377
max lb ft 419
Max mph 164
0-60 (secs) 5.1
30-70 (secs) 3.8
1/4 mile (secs) 13.5
30-50 (secs) 5.5
50-70 (secs) 7.7
Overall mpg 14.3
Touring mpg 22.3
Mph/1000rpm 44.1
Weight (lb) 3641
Tested 28/11/90
Price now 48,000


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