First unit review: Lotus Emira

First unit review: Lotus Emira

  • LOTUS EMIRA
  • Price range: $177,000 (Clean Car Program Fee/Refund: TBC)
  • Engines: 3.5-litre supercharged V6 with 298kW/420Nm, 11.2L/100km, 258g/km CO2 (subject to homologation), six-speed manual, RWD.
  • body style: coupe
  • For sale: Now (First Edition, base available Spring 2023)

The Lotus Emira is the last Lotus to use a combustion engine, which is sad. But there’s some good news – it’s selling locally, thanks to a renewed effort to bring the brand here last year. Right-hand drive versions are very close, but we got a short ride on a pre-production left-hook model as a little appetizer.

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The Emira landed... Well, a pre-production left-hand drive car.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

The Emira landed… Well, a pre-production left-hand drive car.

The Emira, as mentioned, is the last Lotus to be powered by an internal combustion engine. In fact, it’s getting two, the familiar 3.5-liter supercharged V6 from Toyota and a new turbocharged inline-four from Mercedes-AMG. The former will have a six-speed manual gearbox and a six-speed automatic with torque converter, while the latter will only be available with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, also from AMG.

SEE MORE INFORMATION:
* Lotus Emira welcomes the four most powerful in the world (thanks AMG!)
* Lotus puts Elise, Exige and Evora to graze
* Lotus New Zealand prices the Emira
* Five things: new cars that still have manual transmission

The first to arrive is the V6, which will also be Emira’s flagship. The engine produces 298kW and 420Nm of torque, which aren’t particularly surprising numbers these days, but are on par with the Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0, which costs about the same. The boosted four won’t be the full-fat version found in the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S, instead it will be closer to the non-S version available in Europe, producing 268kW/430Nm.

The familiar 3.5-liter V6 is mounted behind the driver, sending power to the rear.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

The familiar 3.5-liter V6 is mounted behind the driver, sending power to the rear.

Lotus has gone to great lengths to get not just the steering of the Emira right, but the fit and finish as well. The interior gets a high-tech dashboard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s screen, various comforts like power seats, leather upholstery, cruise control and automatic windshield wipers, keyless start, ambient lighting and parking sensors. Add the Lotus Drivers Pack and you have launch control, a stiffer suspension setup and sportier tires.

Outside, there are LED lights at both ends, minimalistic but crisp styling, with hood cuts for aerodynamics, intakes just ahead of the rear wheels for the mid-mounted engine, and curvy styling lines taken from the electric Evija.

This one in particular is a prototype. All the important parts – engine, steering, chassis – are all up and running, but there are a few little things that Lotus will polish before production, like some squeaky internals, improving noise, vibration and harshness levels and putting the steering wheel on the correct side.

Where did you drive?

Almost everything is ready to go, except for a few final tweaks and trim adjustments to the cabin and electronics package.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

Almost everything is ready to go, except for a few final tweaks and trim adjustments to the cabin and electronics package.

Considering this prototype status, we weren’t allowed to go that far, unfortunately. Lotus let us take it on the highway, stretch our legs a little and see how it went in more urban areas.

I can report that while the V6 may have been getting a little sluggish in recent years, it’s still quite a powerful engine. The Lotus’ movement allows it to turn very fast, not unlike a four-cylinder sports bike.

The powerband is nice and wide too, thanks to that supercharger, with plenty of traction from almost anywhere in the rev range. It’s not as loud as a naturally aspirated engine, but that too can simply be lost due to lack of time spent on the car.

These bars on the hood are for aerodynamic purposes

Nilo Bijoux/Things

These bars on the hood are for aerodynamic purposes

Sounds awesome too, though probably not as loud as the older Evoras. You can thank the noise emission regulations for that. Active exhaust valves mean you can adjust the volume with riding modes, with the fully open setting delivering a tasty amount of roaring, cracking and popping.

The steering and chassis are typical Lotus, straight and sharp. Indeed, Lotus has opted to eschew electric steering and the various safety things it brings in favor of power steering, which it says is better for driving.

Road noise isn’t too bad, a little rumbling, but I don’t want to comment entirely until the production car arrives, as this is an area that will likely change with final tweaks before approval.

First editions are available to order now, with the base model arriving next year.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

First editions are available to order now, with the base model arriving next year.

By default, the Emira gets two driving modes, Touring and Sports. Adding the driver package gets Track, while there will also be an ‘all off’ mode which, as you can probably find out, turns everything off. The modes adjust throttle progression, exhaust valves, traction control and, on automatic models, allow launch control in Sports and Track modes.

It’s comfortable, which is a bit of a relief. You could drive it to work most days and not have your back blown out by seats with an inch of padding and track-specific fixed suspension. The screens are simple and easy to decipher, and there are lots of high quality materials around.

From the driver’s seat, the pedal box is a little off-center, which was a little weird. I don’t remember Elise being like that, so Emira’s final models might be better. It could also have been the awkwardness of driving on the other side of the car, which feels a bit like that point in your life where you know how to drive manually but still aren’t confident to do it mindlessly.

Manual transmission is only available with the V6 engine.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

Manual transmission is only available with the V6 engine.

Speaking of manual, gear shifting is pleasant and tactile with a short reach. The gears themselves are well spaced – fast driving will see some changes, but the engine will be around 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h on the highway.

Now all that’s left is to see how it behaves on our bumpy back roads…

What is the range choice?

Lotus has built a serious competitor to the Porsche Cayman here.

Nilo Bijoux/Things

Lotus has built a serious competitor to the Porsche Cayman here.

The Emira isn’t just a farewell to Lotus’ gasoline heritage, it’s a concerted effort by the brand to show that it has overcome previous build quality and engineering issues. A short drive in a prototype showed me that the Emira is a serious contender for the sub-$200k mid-engined sports car crown in all areas, not just driving prowess. Which it needs to be if you want to beat the superb Cayman.

Why would I buy?

You want a mid-engined car that isn’t a Cayman, something a little different from other similar sports cars, and something ridiculously good to drive.

Why wouldn’t I buy?

It’s almost $200,000, which is a lot of money, or you prefer German engineering to British engineering.

#unit #review #Lotus #Emira

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