The name Lotus is well known to most petrol heads and passionate fans of Formula 1. This historic British marquee has produced several iconic sports cars and race cars that are usually built upon one core principle: make them as lightweight as possible. Since Chinese automaker Geely took a controlling share of the company in 2017, Lotus has been heading towards an EV-only future with a variety portfolio that would make the brand profitable. The Evija was the first step in this direction as a 2000hp electric hypercar. But before Lotus abandons the internal combustion engine altogether, they have one last shouty sportscar and this is it: the Emira.
The Emira’s design is obviously similar to that of the Evija but shrinkwrapped around a smaller frame. It’s meant to look like a baby supercar that is visibly related to its hypercar sibling. The various ducts and vents are functional for good aerodynamics and even generating some downforce at speed and through fast corners. There’s no finicky active aero on this one.
The large air dam up front feeds air to the intercoolers and it is then evacuated via the slits in the bonnet in a controlled manner to direct the air where needed. Other vents in the front also help channel cooling air to the front brakes. There are strong character lines along the sides of the Emira which also help channel the air around the car. Side pods behind the doors, housed in the rear haunches, will feed air to the engine while cleverly hidden inlets in the side sills channel air to the rear brakes. There’s also a sizeable rear diffuser which also houses the two, round exhaust tips with a perforated design.
The rear is sculpted into the shape of a dovetail spoiler with no protruding bodywork for added downforce. Like the Evija, there are air outlets for the rear wheel arches integrated into the rear end design below the C-shaped tail lamps.
The Emira’s vertical LED headlights also mimic the design of those on the Evija with the twin-blade daytime running lights. It has a large nose with a large Lotus badge which is part of the brand’s latest corporate identity.
Sitting on 20-inch wheels, the Emira sits tautly with its aero-sculpted body. In some ways, its design seems like something fictional from a mobile racing game was brought into existence but well enough to look just as pretty in the real world.
While the Emira is a large mid-engined sports car by Lotus standards, it’s quite a compact package. In fact, it isn’t much bigger than the Evora in terms of length but is notably wider. It is 4412mm long and 1895mm long (with the mirrors folded). The Emira continues to use Lotus’ bonded aluminium tech for its lightweight chassis and tips the scales at 1405kg in its lightest configuration. While that’s heavy by the standards set by the brand’s heritage, it’s quite light in today’s world and the extra mass is managed by maintaining a dynamic balance overall.
The Emira will get the choice of two hearts. One is the tried and tested and further improved 3.5-litre supercharged V6 that is built by Toyota and honed by Lotus (powered the Exige and Evora as well). This is the best-sounding option and gets the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission for the purists. The second engine option, which will be offered in 2022, is an AMG-built 2.0-litre inline-four turbocharged unit. It’s the same one as the one found in the Mercedes-AMG A45 but will only drive the Emira’s rear wheels and only be available with an 8-speed DCT. Lotus will fettle with this one too for desired responsiveness and type of power delivery.
The British marquee is not giving specific performance figures, explaining that they can differ depending on the emission regulations as per the market. However, the range of performance on offer will be between 360-400hp with up to 430Nm of torque. Lotus claims a 0-100kph time of less than 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 290kph. The Emira has also kept a hydraulic steering setup to guarantee the kind of driving connection one would expect from a Lotus sports car.
There will be two chassis and suspension settings on offer: Tour and Sports. Tour is for everyday usability with a balance between a comfortable ride and dynamic performance. Meanwhile, Sports is offered with the optional Lotus Drivers Pack and has a stiffer suspension setup. The optional pack also adds racier tyres, a “Track” setting for the driving modes, and launch control.
Lotus even had former F1 world champion Jenson Button test the car ahead of media reviews. The car will make its dynamic showcase at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed in a few days.
But there’s nothing new about Lotus making a handsome sports car that promises to be fun to drive. So what makes the Emira so significant for the brand’s future? The interior. It’s nice. It’s practical. It’s modern.
Most Lotus cars are committed to providing a raw driving experience by sticking to the lightweight philosophy. That meant the cabins were usually quite barren and devoid of conveniences. However, the Emira’s cabin feels as modern as its design. It’s not particularly fancy or riddled with tech but it does have a 13.2-inch TFT digital driver’s display and a central 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The controls for the sporty, flat-bottom steering wheel don’t look as polished as the displays but that means it’s not as distracting as other modern steering wheels. Emira has premium upholstery (choice of leather or Alcantara) with good bolstering for the 4-way power-adjustable sports seats that can be upgraded to 12-way power-adjustable seats for added comfort. A pretty detail of the cabin is the floating central console tunnel which will showcase the exposed gear linkage in the manual transmission variants.
There’s plenty of practicality as well with cup holders, space for 500ml bottles in the door bins, 208 litres of storage behind the seats and a small boot (behind the engine) for another 151 litres of space. Lotus has also partnered with KEF for a 10-channel premium sound system to bang out some tunes while road-tripping in the Emira.
The final factor in determining the Lotus Emira’s success is the price. In base-spec, it will cost just under £60,000 which is quite attractive for its looks and performance package. The Emira will be a tasty alternative to the likes of the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 and the Alpine A110. Lotus will be manufacturing the car at its new manufacturing facility in Hethel, which represents a £100million investment, alongside the Evija. This facility uses modern manufacturing technologies to assist in the “handmade” assembly process. The first batch of customer cars are likely to be delivered in early 2022 but keep an eye out for media reviews that will no doubt go live after the embargo.
What do you make of the Lotus Emira? Do you like the looks? Would you have one over the likes of an Alpine A110 or a Porsche 718 Cayman? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the Auto Loons for more cool updates from the car world.