The Lotus design team is confident that the T128 is a major step forward over its predecessor, the relatively conservative T127 that the squad used to take unofficial "top new team" honors in 2010.
Head of R&D and vehicle dynamics Elliot Dason-Barber said the new car's suspension arrangement is an area where Lotus has made particular gains.
"The area that intrigues me the most is the front suspension, and the rear as well actually," he said. "We've tried to push the boundaries with a few things to make it a bit lighter and more efficient."
The team's aerodynamic chief Marianne Hinson feels the design is visually more aggressive than last year's car, which was created in a very short time span after Lotus was awarded a Formula 1 entry at the second time of asking following BMW's withdrawal.
"I can't give away too many secrets, but I think the front half of the car is quite a big step away from the 2010 car," she said. "Last year's car was a bit blocky in the sidepod area, but this one looks a lot racier – it's a lot smoother and curvier around the sidepods."
Chief designer Lewis Butler said a lot of effort has gone into improving the packaging of the car to allow the aerodynamics to be more advanced.
"That was the biggest design challenge, actually – just trying to package everything a bit smaller," he said. "We were trying to get that area around the driver really tight so the aerodynamicists were happy with it."
The T128 will make its track debut at Valencia on Wednesday, joining the other teams for the second and third days of winter testing before holding a private filming session at the Spanish circuit on Friday.