Lotus Emira: Petrol-Powered Princess’s Bittersweet Goodwood Debut

A rare occasion the arrival of a new Lotus is one that is awaited with bated breath and barely contained excitement by a hardcore segment of sports car enthusiasts. However, the debut of the new Lotus Emira is a bittersweet event so soon after the discontinuation of the Elise, Exige and Evora, and in that it marks the last true lightweight petrol-powered Lotus, as the British manufacturer is set to fully embrace electrification in the near future.

Set to be a princess among sports cars as the Arabic translation of its name suggests, the Emira is pitched as a near supercar sports car that takes design inspiration from the limited production Lotus Evija EV hypercar, with its taut skin, sleek lines, athletic stance and voluptuous curves. In effect, the Emira is Lotus’ replacement for the aging but sublimely rewarding and capable Evora, albeit one that ditches its predecessor’s uniquely practical mid-engine 2+2 seating configuration.

Making its public ‘dynamic debut’ at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and set to go on sale by next spring, the Emira remains a comparative lightweight at just 1,405kg for the entry-level model, and retains its predecessor’s mid-engine, rear-drive layout, and thankfully with no mention of any electrification according to Lotus’ press release.

Instead, the Emira’s drive-line options at launch will include a more powerful version of the existing Lotus-tuned and supercharged Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 engine, along with a downsized Mercedes-AMG sourced 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Developing 400BHP and 360BHP respectively, the Emira ‘s performance is meanwhile quoted at 4.5-seconds through 0-100km/h and with a top speed of 290km/h. Gearbox options meanwhile include automatic, double-clutch and best of all, a true three-pedal manual for purists.

Impressively swift, the lusty Emira is meanwhile expected to deliver the same dynamic prowess and intimately intuitive and connected driving experience that Lotus is so famed for. With that in mind, the Emira uses hydraulic steering assistance, rather than now more fashionable electric assistance. Its aerodynamic package is meanwhile passive rather than active, but is honed to provide balance and plenty of high speed and cornering downforce

Old school in character, the Emira is however a much more technologically advance car than the Evora, and features an extensive driver-assistance and safety suite, along with modern infotainment, instrumentation, conveniences and cabin treatment.

– Press Release –

Lotus Emira: the most accomplished Lotus ever made

  • All-new mid-engined sports car perfectly embodies ongoing transformation of iconic British sports car manufacturer
  • Striking design, delivering exotic supercar appeal in sports car segment
  • Inspiration from Lotus Evija hypercar clear in fluid surfaces and crisp feature lines
  • Developed on Lotus’ recently announced Sports Car Architecture
  • Two petrol engines available, including new-to-Lotus 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘i4’ from technical partner AMG
  • Much-loved and characterful 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from Exige and Evora to feature as ‘First Edition’ range-topper
  • Manual, automatic and Dual Clutch Transmission to maximise global appeal
  • Power output from 360 to 400 hp at launch
  • 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in less than 4.5 seconds
  • Top speed of up to 180mph (290km/h)
  • Target weight of 1,405kg in its lightest form
  • Prices will start from under £60,000 (under €72,000)

06 July 2021, Hethel, UK – 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 sports car 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. 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.

Lotus Emira range technical specification

Price range Starting at less than £60,000 (less than €72,000)
Dimensions Length 4,412mm; width 1,895mm (mirrors folded); height 1,225mm; wheelbase 2,575mm
Petrol engines 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder / 3.5-litre V6
Transmissions Manual, automatic and DCT
Power output 360-400hp
Maximum torque 430Nm
Acceleration

(0-62mph / 0-100km/h)

Less than 4.5 seconds
Top speed Up to 180mph (290km/h)
CO2 emissions Start below 180g/km
EU DIN kerb weight 1,405kg in its lightest form
Connectivity and infotainment 10.25-inch touch-screen; integrated navigation*; Apple CarPlay / Android Auto; KEF Uni-Q premium audio system

* not available in all markets

Key technology and features Keyless-go; cruise control; rain-sensing wipers; electric folding door mirrors; powered seats; all-LES exterior lights; adaptive cruise control; anti-collision system; fatigue alert; road sign information; vehicle speed limiter; lane departure warning; rear cross traffic alert; lane change assist.