I'm not sure installing an airbag wheel that was not designed for the Esprit is any better. Nobody even knows if it would actually work in a collision.
In reference to various airbag companies that supply airbag modules to the steering wheel makers. They are controlled by maybe 4-6 manufacturers??? Not sure the exact number as many are subsidiaries to the main holding companies. That being said, The Raid steering wheel airbag module made by Petri AG was not specifically designed for the Esprit, but is used in several limited production models of cars as OEM. It is also used in many aftermarket applications mostly of European origin. Many cars world wide share the use of the same airbag model and it is common practice to insert the same airbag module into many different cases and airbag pads.
The Elise and Exige steering wheel and airbags were also not specifically designed for them and used off the shelf airbag modules. We all know the OEM Esprit GM airbag were also not specifically designed for the car but was lifted from GM inventory. But all Lotus airbag equipped cars were physically crash tested with the factory OEM wheels to prove compliance with NHTSA.
The Raid airbag module is a standard full size bag that it is about 2.5 cu ft inflated and round that is designed to cover an area beyond the wheel being mindful of the driver hold on the steering wheel. The driver side rectangular or shaped bags are rare and only found on stationary hub type steering wheels.
Many of the airbags used on the drivers side share the similar dimension and Raid is no exception they only have one airbag for all models and wheel sizes they produce. It's because the bag must cover such a wide range of parameters such as accommodating different seating distance, tilt steering if equipped, size of drivers, steering wheel size, etc. So its the one size fits as many as possible mentality rather than purpose made design for each vehicle. I believe the minimum target distance consideration from hub to driver's chest is 10".
German airbag rules are a lot stricter than in the USA and I believe like many EU countries illegal to disable or remove airbags. I am speculating, but since Raid does make an Esprit hub I would strongly assume they had inflation simulation testing done at a place like EASi Engineering GmbH that specializes in detailed computer airbag simulations to limit the number of actual physical crash testing. Germany is so strict it forbids used airbag sales and I think it restricts reloading airbags into steering wheels that have experienced bag deployment. In any case I'm not 100% sure of German laws, only 2nd hand info.
Testing results indicate air bags were "modestly protective" for front-seat passengers of medium height, which is defined as being between 5 foot 3 inches tall to 5 foot 11 inches tall. Studies indicate "air bags appear to increase the risk of injury for large- and small-stature adults."
For drivers taller than 6 foot 3 inches, air bags were associated with a 5% greater risk of serious injury. Also estimates that for drivers shorter than 4 foot 11 inches, air bags were associated with a 4% increase in the risk of serious injury.
It is curious that the poster that listed the non airbag Grant wheel mod is from Canada. I have been informed that while not illegal to remove an airbag in Canada. The uniform insurance rules there will routinely deny a claim or revoke coverage based on removal of a safety device as an airbag. It is a subject covered in many site forums from Miata to Corvette as it relates to Canada. Just google it. So Canadians, its best to check with your own insurance if it is allowed.
Wisconsin has a law in regards to airbag removal which is a misdemeanor crime. Tennessee also has a similar law. it applies to private individuals as well as service professionals. I have not researched other states if they have similar state statues so one must research local jurisdictions for such laws.
Wisconsin 347.475 sub section (3) Airbags, prohibited practices.
No person may, either personally or through an agent, remove, disconnect, tamper with, or otherwise circumvent the operation of any airbag, except for the purpose of testing, repairing, or maintaining an airbag, salvaging an undeployed airbag, disposing of a deployed airbag, or replacing a deployed airbag with a functional airbag. This subsection does not apply to the installation or use of an on-off switch by any person who is authorized by federal law or regulation to install or use an on-off switch for an airbag.
It's all information and its a personal choice one way or another if one removes the bag. For me I'll keep an airbag. The wife feels better about me having it when I go on robust drives so I am not going to make waves. I also don't want to give insurance any excuse to limit or deny coverage.