The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity - story fullscreen Fullscreen

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity

The Emira is new, but there’s a lot of typical Lotus design mixed in with some AMG power and a tech-happy interior

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The day has finally come as Lotus hammers the last nail into its fuel-driven coffin as it spreads its wings to explore the great unknown. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but Lotus’ final gas-powered car – the one that’s replacing the Exige, Elise, and Evora – has finally been revealed. In a nutshell, it appears to blend cues from the Evija and Evora with a newly designed rear end and a larger footprint than any of its predecessors. As a new competitor aimed at the likes of the Porsche 718 Cayman and the Alpine A110, and the last car from Lotus that won’t be electric, the Emira has a lot of expectations to live up to. Does it have what it takes? Let’s take a deeper look at the finer details.

The Emira’s Power is Derived From the Heart of AMG and Toyota

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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As you know by now, the Emira comes to replace the trifecta that Lotus milked to death, and it represents the very last Lotus model to be built around an internal combustion engine. As you’d expect, the Emira is a mid-engined vehicle, and it’s power will be derived from either an AMG or a Toyota powerplant, the latter of which should come as no surprise whatsoever.

We don’t exactly have all of the details at this point, but what we can tell you is that you’ll be able to opt for some variation for the supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 with Toyota branding on the side, or a 2.0-liter M139 AMG engine that’s found in none other than the AMG A45 and A45 S.

Specific outputs have been kept under wraps, but lotus says power will range from between 360 and 400 horsepower. Maximum torque will come in at 430 Nm or about 317 pound-feet with the quickest version of the Emira being capable of hitting 62 mph (100 km/h) in lest than 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph (290 km/h).

Lotus Emira Specifications
Engine Horsepower Torque 0-60 MPH Top Speed
Lotus Emira AMG 2.0-liter I4 Toyota 3.5-liter V-6 360-400 HP 317 LB-FT ~4.5 Seconds 180 MPH

If you watched the live stream, you probably noticed that there was a manual shifter showcased inside the car. If you’re hoping for that, then you’re going to have to opt for the 3.5-liter Toyota engine which is, likely, the least potent of the two available engines. That one will be available with a six-speed manual or an automatic, while any Emira powered by an AMG engine will be forced to sick with an eight-speed DCT – just like those who own an AMG A45 or A45 S. Power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, and the Emira’s curb weight comes in at 3,097 pounds, so it should be fairly fun to drive in true Lotus fashion.

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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As far as how well the Emira will compete, well, things are going to get interesting. The Porsche 718 is available with anything between 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque in base form to 394 horsepower and 309 pound-feet in GTS trim or 414 horsepower and 309 pound-feet if you’re looking at the range-topping, six-figure GT4. Depending on the model, the 718 will hit 60 mph in the 4.3-4.9 second range. As for the Alpine A110, well, it’s 1.8-liter four-banger is good for between 249 horsepower and 288 horsepower (in the A110S) and 236 pound-feet of torque. 0-60 mph comes in 4.4-4.5 seconds with top speed limited to 155 mph.

Lotus Emira vs. The Competition
Engine Horsepower Torque 0-60 MPH Top Speed
Lotus Emira AMG 2.0-liter I4 Toyota 3.5-liter V-6 360-400 HP 317 LB-FT ~4.5 Seconds 180 MPH
Porsche 718 2.0-2.5-Liter F4 or 4.0-Liter F6 300-414 HP 280-309 LB-FT 4.3-4.9 Seconds 170-187 MPH
Alpine A110 1.5-Liter I4 249-188 HP 236 LB-FT 4.4-4.5 Seconds 155 MPH

Does the Emira have a chance on the performance front? Well, on paper, sure, but reserve judgment until this baby hits the road, because you never know what will surprise you.

The Emira’s Interior Is Downright Impressive

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Interior
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As far as looks and powertrain options go, there are some commonalities between the Emira and its predecessors, but the interior is 100-percent new and looks like nothing we’ve seen from Lotus before.

The dashboard is about as high-tech as it gets, with a 12.3-inch digital drivers display and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, the latter of which features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Every modern feature you can think of is available from cruise control and ambient lighting to 12-way electric seats and automatic wipers, so there’s no shortage of tech happening here. If you opt for the Lotus Driver’s pack, you’ll get a launch control system for obvious reasons along with stiffer suspension and Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires – basically stuff that will make the Emira even more fun to drive. Beyond this, the interior is just simple and gorgeous but a bit complex at the same time.

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Interior
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Notice how the dashboard and door panels are flat on top? Even the lower level of the dash is simple and minimalistic. The center console and the silver trim offset the entire cabin and gives a bit of a futuristic look without being overly gaudy or too aggressive. The door trim panels follow the same example – they are interesting, but not to the point that you’d say Lotus was trying too hard. As you’d expect there’s a flat-bottom steering wheel and supportive seats for the spirited driver in you. In the end, the Emira is packed with more features than any other lotus, save for (maybe) the seven-figure Evija. Other features include:

  • Front parking sensors
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Electric folding mirrors
  • Curtain airbags
  • Keyless go
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Stolen vehicle tracker

Exterior Design – The Emira Is a Typical Lotus

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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I have to admit that I was a little shocked, and not in a good way, when I saw the new Emira for the first time. At a glance, the front end and side profile are quite similar to the Evija (and there’s some Evora hints in there too), so I wasn’t exactly able to say “wow, look at that.” While most of the design cues are very familiar in the front, the rear end is actually quite a bit different while at the same time you can see some inspiration from the Evija here too. Granted, there are only so many ways to make a mid-engined car look different, but some truly new design cues would have been nice to see. Of course, it’s probably important to remember that for the last year, we’ve billed the Emira as a mini Evija

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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In terms of size, the Emira is actually quite large for a lotus. It measures, 173.7-inches long, 74.6-inches wide, and 48.2-inches tall. These dimensions make it considerably bigger than the Elise and Exige, and even a bit bigger – not by much – than the Evora. That said, it’s not too big to the point that you won’t be able to destroy tracks or any other corner your come across, but if you’re upgrading from one of the Emira’s predecessors, you’re getting a car that’s at least a bit larger. Just for fun, I’ve included two sliders below so you can see how the Emira compares to the Evija.

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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2022 Lotus Emira dimensions
Length 4,412 mm
Width 1,895 mm
Height 1,225 mm
Wheelbase 2,575 mm

Vissual Comparison: Evija vs. Emira

left right
left right

Emira Market Launch and Pricing

The Lotus Emira Represents Significant Change with Familiarity Exterior
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The Emira is designed to be a global car, and in fact it kind of has to be since it’s the only car in the brands lineup outside of the Evija. We don’t have full market launch or pricing details yet, but Lotus plans to commence sales starting in summer of 2020. Pricing in the U.S. will come sometime down the road, but the Emira will start out at €72,000 across Europe and £60,000 in the U.K. – at current exchange rates, you’re probably looking at a range of $82,794 - $85,117 in the U.S., and that’s assuming there aren’t extra fees added onto the price for U.S. customers and that the same general entry-level price point carries over.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
About the author

The Emira is an all-new mid-engined premium sports car that perfectly embodies the ongoing transformation of the Lotus business and brand. It features all the hallmarks that the automotive world has come to expect from a Lotus – striking design, thrilling dynamic performance delivering best-in-class ride and handling, outstanding aerodynamics and an unrivalled experience ‘For The Drivers’.

Building on the legacy of the Elise, Exige and Evora, the Emira represents a quantum leap forward for Lotus. Those instantly recognisable brand signatures and core values have been combined with a paradigm shift in levels of practicality, comfort, functionality and technology.

Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars commented: “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.”

The Emira has been developed on a new lightweight bonded aluminium chassis, technology pioneered by Lotus and 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 Evija. Key dimensions of the Emira are length 4,412mm; width 1,895mm; height 1,225mm; and wheelbase 2,575mm.

First customer cars will start to be delivered around the world from next spring. Powering the Emira will be a choice of two petrol engines, both globally respected for their performance characteristics. At launch, the first cars will be available as limited-production ‘First Edition’ models powered by the much-loved and Lotus-honed 3.5-litre V6 which cut its Hethel teeth powering the Exige and Evora.

From summer 2022, the first new Lotus sports car engine for more than a decade makes its debut, with the Emira powered by AMG. The new-to-Lotus AMG unit is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder ‘i4’ from the performance division of Mercedes-Benz.

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. The 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 400bhp at launch, 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 CO2 emissions will start below 180g/km. The car has a target weight of 1,405kg in its lightest form, and prices will start at less than £60,000 (less than €72,000).

Manufacturing will take place at Lotus’ famous home in Hethel, Norfolk, following more than £100million of new investment in the company’s UK facilities. The highly skilled operations teams will be supported by new processes and technologies to enhance production efficiency, volume capability and overall quality.

Matt Windle added: “The Lotus Emira is the most accomplished Lotus road car ever to roll through the Hethel factory gates. Beautifully proportioned with a stunning design inspired by the Evija all-electric hypercar, it’s the perfect package. The Emira is a junior supercar with all the thrills and head-turning characteristics found in the greatest Lotus cars, but at the same time is an everyday sports car that’s high on comfort and functionality, packed with the latest technology demanded by the discerning driver.”

Lotus retailers around the world are now taking deposits for the Emira. A digital visualiser showcasing the car’s striking design is live at www.lotuscars.com. The Emira will make its public dynamic debut this coming weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (8-11 July).

Lotus Emira in detail

The Emira is the first all-new Lotus sports car to be delivered under Vision80, the strategic plan which is guiding the transformation of Lotus as it moves towards its 80th anniversary in 2028. It is a truly global model, engineered to sell in all major markets around the world. Acting as a catalyst to further enhance brand awareness globally, it’s spearheading the repositioning and expansion of the Lotus retail network ahead of the arrival of a family of new vehicles.

Pronounced ‘Eh-meer-ah’, the word features in numerous ancient languages and often translates as ‘commander’ or ‘leader’. It’s highly appropriate as this is the exciting new sports car leading Lotus’ last hurrah with internal combustion engines, before fully embracing electrification and a new era for the brand later in the decade.

Exterior design: delivering exotic supercar appeal in the sports car segment

The Emira is the first Lotus sports car to carry the new design language first showcased on the award-winning Evija hypercar. It’s a contemporary look with sculpted surfaces and technical detailing, delivering exotic supercar appeal in the sports car segment. A new and more premium approach for Lotus in terms of forms and materials, it is also a leap forward in fit and finish.

Led by Russell Carr, Design Director, Lotus, the creative team has succeeded in designing something beautiful, timeless, memorable, modern and that looks like a Lotus. Its optimised proportions and athletic shrink-wrapped body visually describe Lotus’ legendary agile driving characteristics.

Russell commented: “The Emira captures the visual drama of an exotic supercar, with great proportions, wide footprint and a cabin that sits low down between muscular haunches. Add in that it’s practical enough to be useable every day, of the highest quality and accessibly priced, and it’s undoubtedly a compelling and seductive alternative to the existing sports car competition. The Emira is re-introducing our brand to a new global audience while still offering all the thrills to engage the most ardent driving enthusiast.”

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. The unique-in-class exit vents, integrated into the bonnet to guide airflow over the car and optimise aerodynamics, are also derived from the Evija.

Vertical all-LED headlamps are standard across the range, with a wing-inspired twin blade design also familiar from the Lotus hypercar. The bonnet houses the current iteration of the iconic Lotus roundel, its first appearance on a new Lotus sports car and slightly larger than on previous models.

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 Emira name badge is visible from the side, integrated into the C-pillar. All wheels are 20-inches in diameter; as standard they will be fitted with a Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport tyre, while a Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is a cost option available in conjunction with the Lotus Drivers Pack. Both tyres have been specially developed for the Emira by their manufacturer.

At the rear, the Lotus wordmark dominates the integrated bumper, above a body coloured panel that’s clearly inspired by the rear of the Evija. At each end is an exit vent for air from the wheel arch. Each corner has a flat C-shaped LED light cluster linked by a slimline high-level brake light. Below is a black section housing twin exhaust pipes either side of the number plate and with an air diffuser underneath to aid downforce.

Efficient aerodynamics has been at the heart of the Lotus brand since the company was founded in 1948. It is a philosophy inextricably linked to delivering outstanding performance whether a car is on the road or race track. Simplicity is at the core of the Emira – there are no active aerodynamics as clever engineering means they’re not needed. It is the only model in its class to create passive downforce that’s precisely balanced between the front and rear axles at all speeds, perfectly tuned to the weight distribution and suspension geometry of the car. It means as downforce increases with speed, generating exceptional grip through corners, the handling characteristics remain constant, precise and predictable.

Richard Hill, Chief Aerodynamicist, Lotus Cars, commented: “At Lotus, development of any new sports car is never focused solely on either aerodynamics or vehicle dynamics. It’s about creating that unique harmony of natural forces that is ‘Lotus dynamics’ – a sprinkling of magic dust that creates a thrilling driving experience that’s unrivalled in the automotive world. The Emira has that magic and more.”

Chassis and powertrain: advanced new platform mated to high-performance engines

The Emira is 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 a few miles from Hethel.

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.

Two petrol engines are available, a Lotus-engineered 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit from technical partner AMG, and the much-loved and characterful 3.5-litre V6 from the Exige and Evora. Each is calibrated by Lotus to provide a unique and distinctive character for maximum driver engagement.

Gavan Kershaw, Director of Vehicle Attributes, Lotus, commented: “The 2.0-litre is the world’s most powerful production in-line four-cylinder unit mated to AMG’s acclaimed DCT with paddleshifts and driving modes. It’s high-performance, hugely efficient thanks to cutting-edge technology, and delivers low emissions and linear performance. On top of all that, it’s been tuned in-house by the hugely experienced Hethel engineers to deliver that distinctive Lotus experience.”

He added: “The Emira has a wider track than any recent Lotus road car, enhancing stability, delivering exceptional road-holding 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.”

Interior design: a huge step-change for Lotus

Lotus car interiors have always been famed for putting the driver at the very centre of the experience, with pure ergonomic design and instruments carefully placed for the most intuitive use. The Emira follows these principles to the letter to create a modern cockpit environment with the essential controls to hand and minimum distraction.

What’s new about this next-generation Lotus sports car is immediately obvious – the huge step-change across all aspects of the cabin, from the contemporary design and quality of materials to the increase in storage space, exceptional fit and finish, attention to detail and abundant advanced technology now integrated.

The wraparound nature of the dashboard as it blends into the door trim creates 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. They blend perfectly with modern technical finishes to create a premium experience for the driver – ‘technology with soul’ – 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.

The two seats have been designed to combine exceptional lateral support for high-speed cornering with total comfort for long distance journeys. There is four-way electric adjustment on the standard seat, with the option to upgrade to a premium sports seat with 12-way electric adjustment for both the driver and passenger. All seats are unique to the Emira. The dramatic supercar-like low stance of the car has been achieved while matching best-in-class ingress/egress and headroom.

Also unique to the Emira is the flat-bottomed sports steering wheel with metallic spoke detail and integrated controls. The interior features ambient and wraparound lighting as well as map lights.

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.

An everyday sports car that sets new standards for practicality, comfort and functionality

Richard Moore, Executive Director, Engineering, Lotus, commented: “Lotus customers around the world have rightly come to expect outstanding dynamic performance from our sports cars, and they will undoubtedly get that with the Emira. Like every great Lotus it has that element of theatre, for example, the visible gearshift mechanism on manual cars and the exposed throttle actuator in the V6 engine bay.”

He added: “What will surprise and delight sports car customers the world over is the level of practicality, functionality and comfort which sets new standards for Lotus.”

From the very first discussions Lotus wanted the Emira to be an ‘every day’ sports car, delivering a usability and practicality to support that with levels of comfort and desirability for total comfort over long-distance cruising. To that end, it sets new standards for Lotus and is better than ever for the tallest and shortest drivers. There is more space between the occupants as well.

The glass area has been designed to provide good all-round visibility for daily use. Acknowledging that some owners will drive their Emira in a spirited way, and even on a circuit, the view forward – particularly of the haunches – supports highly accurate placement of the car through corners.

Access to the car’s infotainment system is via a 10.25-inch centrally mounted touch-screen, with an additional 12.3-inch TFT driver’s display behind the steering wheel. All content is exclusive to Lotus has been designed and developed by an in-house team. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are integrated as standard.

Also exclusive to Lotus is the availability of a 10-channel premium sound system from highly respected British brand KEF. This is the company’s first ever automotive partnership and features its signature Uni-Q™️ technology, a unique configuration which dispenses with separated tweeter and mid-range, instead combining both into an acoustically idealised single unit. Finished with a distinctive bespoke speaker fret design, Uni-Q covers the entire mid and high-frequency sound spectrum from a single point in space, delivering a more coherent, hyper-realistic sound experience.

Storage is vital in sports car and the Emira’s cabin has been exceptionally well thought out. It has twin central cup holders with a phone storage slot between them, and door bins that can accommodate a 500ml bottle. Practicality also comes from the glovebox, trinket tray ahead of the gearstick, armrest between the seats with USB and 12v ports, plus a console net for bottles or documents.

Luggage or other large items can be stored behind the two seats (208 litres) or in the boot to the rear of the engine. This space (151 litres) will take a standard-sized flight case or a set of golf clubs.

Built at Hethel in an all-new manufacturing facility

Lotus sports cars have been built at Hethel since 1966. Following more than £100million of UK investment by Lotus, production of the Emira will take place in all-new state-of-the-art factory. The Emira will remain ‘Handmade in Hethel’, supported by new processes and technologies that will enhance efficiency and build quality – a genuine ‘best of both worlds’ solution.

An all-new paintshop features robotic application – a first for Lotus that will improve quality, capacity and process repeatability. It includes many innovative technologies such as a combined primer and clearcoat line. There is a new semi-automated body assembly system, with robots being used to apply adhesive. Vehicle bodies are transported around the main assembly area on Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). Emira production actually begins at Lotus Advanced Structures (LAS), an all-new facility in nearby Norwich where chassis fabrication and front-end assembly takes place. The launch of the Emira has created more than 200 new operations roles at Lotus.

Digital visualiser online at www.lotuscars.com

Lotus retailers around the world are now taking deposits for the Emira, and the first customers will take delivery next spring.

A digital visualiser showcasing the car’s striking design is live at www.lotuscars.com featuring the six exterior paint colours available at launch – Hethel Yellow, Shadow Grey, Magma Red, Nimbus Grey, Dark Verdant and the launch finish of Seneca Blue. Seven interior colours are available – Black Nappa leather, Red Nappa leather, Grey Nappa leather, Tan Nappa leather, Black Alcantara with grey stitch, Black Alcantara with red stitch and Black Alcantara with yellow stitch. There are five wheel choices – cast 10-spoke, gloss black 10-spoke, silver forged V-spoke, gloss black forged V-spoke and diamond cut forged V-spoke) – with four brake caliper colours – black, red, yellow and silver.

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