Lotus Emira: The most accomplished Lotus ever made

The Emira bookends over 70 years of petrol-powered Lotus vehicles before they transition to fully electric over the next few years. Thankfully, it retains all that’s made Lotus vehicles great to drive.

Emira is developed on a new lightweight bonded aluminium chassis, technology pioneered by Lotus, which remains an intrinsic part of the company’s sports car DNA.

The iconic Brit brand, Lotus, is changing in a big way and over the next few years it’s transitioning to an entirely electric sports car and sports SUV brand. That leaves one all-new model, the Emira, to bookend over seventy years of pedigree in the most driver orientated, track-proven petrol-powered sport cars ever produced. No pressure.

The Emira is an all-new mid-engined premium sports car that perfectly embodies the ongoing transformation of the Lotus business and brand. Firstly, it’s stuffed with the touchpoints we’ve all come to expect from a Lotus – striking design, thrilling dynamic performance delivering mind-boggling ride and handling characteristics, outstanding aerodynamics and a fabled, immersive driving experience.

The Emira is as much a swansong for where Lotus has come as it is a precursor for where it’s going, drawing from its most recent predecessors, the Elise, Exige and Evora but equally presents a quantum leap forward with increased focus on practicality, comfort, functionality, and technology.

Managing Director of Lotus Cars, Matt Windle, is clear. “The Emira is a game-changer for Lotus. It stands as a beacon of everything we have achieved to date in the transformation of the business, the embodiment of our progress. It is a highly significant milestone on our path to becoming a truly global performance car brand.”

Emira is developed on a new lightweight bonded aluminium chassis, technology pioneered by Lotus, which remains an intrinsic part of the company’s sports car DNA. That innovative vehicle architecture is wrapped with a bold and sculpted design using cues clearly developed from the hero Evija hypercar.

Powering the Emira will also be the first new Lotus sports car engine for more than a decade and it come by way of AMG. The new-to-Lotus AMG unit is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘i4’ from the performance division of Mercedes-Benz. It’s an impressive unit indeed, claiming the world’s most powerful production in-line four-cylinder power unit.

Working with Lotus for the first time, AMG has come on board as technical partner on the Emira programme, with some fundamental changes made to the in-line four-cylinder set-up for its Lotus debut. Transverse-mounted and delivering rear-wheel drive, the unit has been modified with a new air intake system and new exhaust to suit the character of the Emira.

A second engine is more familiar, the 3.5-litre supercharged Toyota V6 that is so loved by drivers of the Exige and Evora. Cars will be available with a manual, automatic and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT).

Across the Emira range, power output will between 360 and 400hp, with 0-62mph (0-100km/h) acceleration in less than 4.5 seconds and top speeds of up to 180mph (290km/h). Maximum torque will be 430Nm and the car has a target weight of 1,405kg in its lightest form.

Looking at the Emira in profile, the sculpted section cut into the door leads air flow towards the intake ahead of the rear wheel. This serves a dual purpose, providing air for the engine but also to cool it.

The influence of the Lotus Evija is plain to see through the fluid surfaces and crisp feature lines. The lineage is even more obvious on the prominent leading edge of the bonnet, shrink-wrapped cabin that’s tapered to the rear, sculpted doors and vents cut into the muscular rear haunches.

Built on the recently announced new Lotus Sports Car Architecture. It uses the same pioneering Lotus bonded extruded aluminium chassis technology which debuted on the Elise. However, for the Emira, every dimension is different to any previous Lotus chassis, and it is fabricated in an all-new facility – Lotus Advanced Structures – in Norwich just miles from the Henthal assembly plant.

The car has two defined chassis and suspension settings. Tour is tuned for everyday road use, delivering the optimum blend of Lotus dynamic performance and handling with a more comfortable ride. Sports is available with the optional Lotus Drivers Pack and provides a slightly stiffer suspension set-up for enhanced dynamic capability and feel. Hydraulic steering provides excellent feedback for the driver.

Additionally, the Emira has a wider track than any recent Lotus road car, enhancing stability, delivering exceptional roadholding and the sensation of a very low centre of gravity. It is a true Lotus sports car that builds on the legacy of the Elise, Exige and Evora.

If you’re familiar with Lotus cars, you’ll know the interior are minimalist, in models past, there are few fanciful flourishes and unless it helped drive the car faster, it probably wasn’t there.

The Emira adds more creature comforts with a more wraparound dashboard that blends into the door trim to create a cossetted feeling that makes the driver feel at one with the car. The raised gear shifter only enhances that emotion.

There are a high number of soft-trimmed surfaces, showcasing premium British craftsmanship that conveys ultimate sportiness and there are details added in tribute to the heritage and sporting success of Lotus. Examples include the positioning of the gearstick on manual cars, which echoes that of the iconic Esprit, and the semi-exposed gear linkage visible at the base of the centre console on V6 manual cars, as on the Elise and Exige. Adding to the sense of theatre is the protective red cover over the start/stop button.

Features available on the Emira include keyless go, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, electric folding door mirrors, rear parking sensors (with front sensors as an option), auto-dimming rear-view mirror, curtain airbags, launch control (as part of optional Lotus Drivers Pack), and a stolen vehicle tracker.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) available on the Emira include adaptive cruise control, anti-collision system, fatigue alert, road sign information, vehicle speed limiter, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist.

The Emira captures the visual drama of an exotic supercar yet is practical enough to be useable every day and promises to be accessibly priced, and it’s undoubtedly a compelling and seductive alternative to the existing sports car competition.

While the last ever petrol-powered Lotus, the Emira is a suitable send off before heralding in the next chapter of all electric motivation. It re-introduces the brand to a new global audience while still offering all the thrills to engage the most ardent driving enthusiast.

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