Lotus Emira review - Engines, performance and drive
The Emira is more refined than Lotus models of old, which will be more welcome for some than others
It might replace the Evora, and it might wear the same Lotus badge on its nose, but the Lotus Emira has a surprisingly different character to its predecessor, and one that might take a little time to warm to.
Lotus has clearly gone down a path of greater refinement with this car, where the Evora felt a little like a more potent, grown-up Elise. With a mid-engined layout, modest if no longer lissom kerbweight, and well-tuned suspension, it can’t help but handle like a Lotus, but some of the more vivid driving sensations have been lost along the way.
It performs the role of a civilised sports car very well indeed. The ride quality, always a Lotus strong point, is calm, soothing, and feels well-damped, and it rides more quietly than a Porsche Cayman, while refinement from the engine is also well-judged.
Steering feedback is only okay, however, which is surprising given the marque’s previous strengths in this area. We’ve found a curious lack of bite and accuracy when you’re pushing the car harder, such as on a track – where some owners will still surely take their new sports cars. With Touring and Sports chassis options however, and optional Michelin Cup 2 tyres, there’s scope for owners to fine-tune the Emira to a level of ability that suits their needs.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
Behind the Emira’s cockpit you’ll find one of two engines. The entry-level model uses a four-cylinder turbocharged engine bought in from AMG, much like you’d find in the AMG A45 hot hatchback. Tweaked at Hethel for its new Lotus application it makes 360bhp and 430Nm of torque, and just as in the Mercedes applications, it’s attached to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Despite being the more affordable of the two Emira engine options, it isn’t short of performance – Lotus quotes a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds, actually making it quicker than the V6 automatic, while a top speed of 180mph is identical to the manual V6.
That V6 is once again a Toyota-derived 3.5-litre unit, fettled by Lotus and strapped to a supercharger to make it, narrowly, the quickest model of the range in manual form. It develops a round 400bhp and just a touch less torque than the AMG unit at 420Nm, but the extra power tells in a 4.2-second 0-60mph time, despite the need to shift gears yourself. Leave changes to the automatic gearbox, and the 0-60mph extends to 4.6 seconds, while top speed drops to 169mph from the manual’s 180mph.
There’s a fantastic soundtrack from the supercharged V6 engine, which has a properly stirring bark to it from 3,000rpm onwards. The engine also has a strong mid-range and delivers a decent thump in the back if you open it up, although it never quite manages to take your breath away with pure straight-line thrust in the same way that a six-cylinder Porsche Cayman does towards the top end of its rev range.
It’s admirably refined however, making the Emira quite a soothing cruiser, and there’s a pleasing duality between the cultured feel at lower revs and the rousing V6 howl higher up the rev range. It certainly feels good for its quoted performance figures, though the shift quality of the six-speed manual isn’t as good as it could be.
In this review
- 1Lotus Emira reviewThe 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 drive - currently readingThe 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