Lotus' first truly new sports car in over a decade is here, and it's much more than just another Elise variant. Called the , it essentially replaces the , and in the Lotus lineup, and it will be the last car that Lotus makes . The Emira is the start of the end of an era -- not just for Lotus but for un-electrified sports cars in general -- and now that we've digested the first photos and details it seems like a damn good sendoff.
The Emira looks like a Lotus, with lots of obvious design inspiration from theand the outgoing Elise and Exige. The front end has vertical LED headlights that flow into interesting hood intakes, while the sleek front bumper is reminiscent of the later-model Exige. The side scoop is a toned-down version of what the Evija has, and the side surfacing looks dramatic from every angle. At the rear are slim J-shaped taillights, a vent on each side and a prominent diffuser with a pair of round exhaust tips. I love the Emira's styling; it feels fresh and modern while still retaining enough classic Lotus design cues.
It rides on the Lotus Sports Car Architecture, which is totally new but uses the same boned extruded aluminum construction as the Elise and Evora. At 173.7 inches long the Emira is almost two feet longer than the Elise and over half an inch longer than the Evora -- and it's about an inch longer than a Porsche Cayman. It's 74.6 inches wide, about 7 inches wider than the Elise and a couple inches wider than the Evora and Cayman, and while the Emira's 48.2-inch height makes it 4 inches taller than the Elise, it basically matches the Evora and is a couple inches lower than the Evora. While the old Elise had a removable targa roof the Emira is strictly a hardtop coupe -- though a roadster version could happen -- and its greenhouse looks much like the Evora's, with a blacked-out roof and glass engine cover.
The Emira still has a driver-focused interior, but it's much nicer than pretty much any other car we've seen from Lotus. The brand says it has improved everything from build and material quality to storage space. The interior design is fairly simple, with slim air vents and a shelf-like dash that flows onto the door panels. There's some really nice detailing like the strange door pulls and cool speaker grilles, and the floating center console has two real cupholders (with a slot for a phone between them) and storage space underneath. The photos show an automatic car with a cool (but confusing looking) electronic shifter, but on cars with the manual the gear linkage will apparently be visible.
A standard 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.3-inch center touchscreen run a new operating system designed and developed in-house, though Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also standard. All of the switchgear looks unique to Lotus, with the only real physical controls being the climate knobs and a couple related buttons, a drive mode switch, a volume knob, and the engine start button with a flip-up cover. The interior in the photos is a standard black, but there's a nice mix of leather and Alcantara with lots of soft-touch surfaces and orange contrast stitching.
Lotus says the Emira was designed for the driver to have a great view out of the car, especially because so many owners will track the car, and the driving position is supercar-like. The seats are a new design that should be more comfortable, especially for taller and shorter drivers, and four-way electric adjustment is standard while 12-way adjustment is available. While there's no frunk, there's storage space both behind the seats in the cabin and in a cargo area aft of the engine, the latter of which can accommodate a set of golf clubs.
It will initially launch as a limited-edition First Edition model that uses the brand's Toyota-sourced supercharged 3.5-liter V6 engine, the same unit found in the Evora GT, and it'll be offered with either a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. In summer 2022 the Emira will gain a second engine option: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 sourced from Mercedes-AMG. This motor is the same one used by cars like the, but Lotus has given it a new air intake and exhaust system and mounted it transversely. The turbo four engine will only be offered with AMG's 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both engines and all three transmissions will come to the US.
Full specs haven't been released yet, but Lotus says the Emira will make between 365 and 405 horsepower depending on the engine. (In the Evora GT the V6 makes 416 hp, while the turbo four makes between 382 and 416 hp in AMG's 45 models.) Lotus says the Emira will hit 62 mph in under 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 180 mph. Lotus is targeting a curb weight of just under 3,100 pounds in the Emira's lightest form, a couple hundred pounds more than the Evora GT. Every Emira gets 20-inch wheels as standard, with either Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Lotus says the Emira has best-in-class dynamics while being easy to daily drive, and it'll be one of the only cars on sale to still have hydraulic steering.
The Emira is easily the most technologically advanced Lotus yet, Evija aside. Standard features include cruise control, keyless go, rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors and rain-sensing wipers. It's available with a 10-speaker KEF sound system, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. A Lotus Drivers Pack adds launch control, the stickier tires and a stiffer chassis setup.
The Emira will be built at a brand new factory in Hethel, England, which features a robotic paintshop and a semi-automated body assembly setup as part of a $138 million investment. First deliveries will start in the spring around the world, and while we don't have a US pricetag yet the Emira will start at under €72,000, which would translate to around $80,000. Oh, and in case you were wondering, it's pronounced "Eh-meer-ah," and it's apparently a word found in "numerous ancient languages" that means "commander" or "leader."