After speculation that had been around since the mid 80's, 1996 was the year that saw the Esprit finally gain the V8 it had deserved for so long.
The V8 finally arrived due to new tighter emissions laws from the USA (that the 4 cylinder turbos would not have passed) and pushed the 20 year old Esprit to a new level of performance. 175mph and 0-100mph in 10.5sec was a big improvement over the 4 cylinder turbo and put the V8 on a par with its rival the Ferrari F355 and Porsche 996. There were few exterior changes made to the already stunning design, save for even larger wheels and, of course, the V8 badge!
The GT arrived in 1998, offering all the performance of the V8 but without certain interior goodies like leather seats and air con (at a saving of £10,000). 2002 saw another mild restyle (esp. round rear lights) to keep the Esprit fresh into the 21st century.