Somehow I also feel that those games (Lotus series in particular) had some kind of "open" or even "endless" feel. I don't exactly know why, any ideas? The only recent games that gave me that impression were "Need for Speed Hot Pursuit" (the 2010 one from Criterion) and "Need for Speed Most Wanted" (also the 2012 one from Criterion), both great "current gen" games by the way, I like them far more than the "illegal street race" type "Carbon" etc. games.
I mean Outrun even had A-B roads, but Lotus and XJ220 roads felt "endless" or more open even during lap races. Just my imagination...? Don't even know how to explain xD