Back in the day at Automobile Magazine, I drove a Lotus Esprit with a prototype S4 motor in it. It whipped. Having one of the first years or the last of the 4-cylinder before the V8 in ’96 would be my choice.
Some specs from Wikipedia:
In 1993, another exterior and interior revamp of the car resulted in the S4 which was the first model to include power steering. The exterior redesign was done by Julian Thompson, which included a smaller rear spoiler placed halfway up the rear decklid. Other major changes were to the front and rear bumpers, side skirts and valence panels. New five spoke alloy wheels were also included in the redesign. The S4 retained the same horsepower as the SE at 264 hp (197 kW).
The S4 was succeeded in 1994 by the S4s (S4 sport), which upped power to 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) and 290 lb·ft (393 N·m) of torque, improving all-around performance while retaining the comfort of the previous version. Top speed was increased to 168 mph (270 km/h), skidpad increased to 0.91g, an increased slalom of 61.7 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds.
On Columbus, Ohio Craigslist.
“1995 Lotus Esprit S4S 60,000 miles regularly serviced, with records, runs great, very fast, tuned by lotus factory to S4S specs minus the rear wing. The original owner special ordered this car and I am the third owner I drove the car from south carolina when I bought it. Near perfect interior, exterior and engine bay, this is a really well cared for car showroom quality car. Feel free to ask questions I am asking $25000 but we can talk about price no trades unless its a Ferrari”