The cars we loved.
It’s easy to take the advancements in the world of automotive engineering for granted. In just the last few years tremendous advances have made cars faster, more efficient and safer than ever before – not to mention more comfortable and reliable. 40 or just 10 years ago, an exotic sports car would not have the creature comforts we have come to rely on like mobile phone integration, satellite radio and self parking.
The more I thought about the more curious for a comparison I became, so I found two contrasting cars from different eras with similar specs. For comparison sake, I pitted what was considered an advanced sports car from 1976 with a typical modern entry level car by today’s standards. A Lotus Esprit and Ford Focus might seem like extreme examples, but they show how far the automotive industry has come in less than 50 years. Although some of the specs are similar on paper, a late model Focus would likely give the Lotus a run for it’s money – although a properly maintained Lotus might have the edge due to it’s light weight and closer to ideal weight balance. A ST or RS Focus would of course be no contest.
Of course the Lotus with no airbags and infotainment baggage was much lighter and likely better in the curves. It’s excellent handling and rakish shape will likely be the object of affection far into the future. That’s not likely to be the case for the Focus, but I know which one I’d rather depend on in a drive across the country.
|Specification||1976 Lotus Esprit S1||2016 Ford Focus SE|
|Engine||4 cylinders, DOHC, 2.0L||4 cylinders, DOHC, 2.0L|
|Horsepower||160 @ 6200 rpm||160 @ 6500 rpm|
|Transmission||Manual 5-speed||Manual 5-speed|
|Suspension||Independent front and rear||Independent front and rear|
|Top Speed||135 mph||124 mph|
|0 to 60 mph Acceleration*||8.4 seconds||8.4 seconds|
|Wheels||14” alloy wheels||16″ painted aluminum wheels|
|MPG||21 mpg average||26 City / 36 Hwy|
* 0 to 60 speeds vary greatly, but generally the Esprit and Focus are within a half second of each other according to published reports.