Lotus Emira review
The new Emira isn’t a game-changer, but it’s attractive, good to drive, and better-built than any Lotus before it
The last combustion Lotus isn’t perfect, but it’s made significant strides over its predecessors in terms of quality, equipment and refinement. It’s still great to drive too, though in making the Emira a better all-rounder than the outgoing Evora, some drivers might be disappointed that Lotus hasn’t made it just a little lighter and a little more raw.
Still, sleek and almost supercar-like styling, a pleasant cabin environment, and the option of a rowdy four-cylinder AMG engine to kick off the range should find the car plenty of fans, and Lotus is sure to offer variations in future that make the car more capable on track and satisfy customers trading up from Elises and Exiges.
About the Lotus Emira
There’s no such thing as an unimportant car for the Lotus brand, but as the firm’s last internal combustion sports car, the Lotus Emira has plenty of heritage to live up to, and will wave the flag for petrol power as electric models like the Evija hypercar and Eletre SUV spring up around it.
Replacing the long-running Evora, the Emira does carry over some of its predecessor’s technology, but it’s overall a more sophisticated and exotic car. It’s a heavier one too, at more than 1,400kg, but for the first time, also offers two distinctly different powertrains, each mid-mounted and sending their power to the rear wheels alone.
Available only in a two-door coupe body style, the Emira is available with 2.0-litre four-cylinder AMG power, and with a development of the old 3.5-litre Toyota supercharged V6. The former is attached to AMG’s 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the V6 can be directed by either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The AMG engine produces 360bhp, while the V6 makes 400bhp – and gives the top Emira a 180mph top speed.
At launch the Emira is available only in First Edition trim, but other variants are sure to follow once these launch models have all been delivered. There’s a wide choice of colours though, as well as Touring and Sports chassis tuning options, different interior hues, several wheel designs, and a handful of other options. It’s not quite Porsche Cayman levels of personalisation, but it’s less prescriptive than Lotus models of old, and supports the Emira’s higher levels of quality and the premium feel than goes beyond any previous Lotus.
That Porsche Cayman is the Emira’s main rival, itself spanning everything from a 2-litre turbocharged flat four to the screaming 4-litre naturally-aspirated GT4 RS. Rivals don’t come much tougher in any class, but the Emira is arguably closer than ever to its Stuttgart rival. At the lower levels of the Emira range, Alpine’s A110 could be a consideration – and it’s the only car in the class you could still call genuinely lightweight, undercutting the Emira by more than a third of a tonne.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe new Emira isn’t a game-changer, but it’s attractive, good to drive, and better-built than any Lotus before it
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Emira is more refined than Lotus models of old, which will be more welcome for some than others
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThirsty V6 and high tax bills are somewhat offset by excellent residual values
- 4Interior, design and technologyStunning to behold, and probably the best Lotus yet for interior quality
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceMore accommodating than the old Evora, but not as practical as a Porsche Cayman
- 6Reliability and safetyFamiliar architecture should reduce reliability worries, while warranties and servicing are similar to rivals