Lotus launched it’s stunning new sports car, the Emira, earlier this year at the 2021 Goodwood festival of speed. It’s touted as the company’s last piston car, and its first under new owner Geely. Channel 4’s Lotus: A New Dawn documentary laboured the huge investment in the business promising a step change in finish of new-Lotus vehicles. The stakes have never been higher.
A hop across to the midlands on the cards to see the Lotus Emira at Rybrook Lotus, Birmingham as a static display of their show mule – so no test drives, in part to determine would the deposit I’ve placed for one turn into a firm order. Although I’ve had an Evora and V6 Exige on my fleet in the past, my current, excellent 981 Cayman GT4 is the one that would need to make way for the Emira.
Although I know Lotus of yesteryear, and that the Emira is more tourer than a Porsche GT ‘product’, I still need some convincing, as do the dozens of others I’m reading on social media and on forums who have come from Porsche, AMG, TVR and have had their imagination (and credit card details) captured by the Emira like no other Lotus product has. The order book at Hethel is bulging, and it has to be for the brand to achieve their Geely backed ambitions.
This particular launch has the new Lotus Emira in esteemed British company. The Rybrook stable includes both Rolls Royce and McLaren and passing some examples of the marques as I headed upstairs to the unveiling ramped my expectations further.
Wide. The very first thought that passes through my mind when my eyes first rest on the stunning Seneca blue coachwork of the Emira. I know that the car is about six inches wider than the Evora 410, so that has it sitting just shy of the two metre mark, but that has left the car with a stance that is more Maranello than Norfolk.
Speaking of Maranello, and the striking bonnet vents accentuate the horizontal LED headlights similar to the 812 Superfast, the lights themselves a direct styling nod to the Evija EV hypercar. Not only bold but absolutely beautiful. This car will break pedestrian necks.
Emria’s profile is just as arresting. The triangular styling that starts in the middle of the door and ends at the far side of the piano black engine intakes is mirrored in the ‘lower black pack’ sill section. It’s not a supercar, but its silhouette tells a different story.
Arguably the rear is the least dramatic part of the car from a design perspective, but its simplistic half moon ties together those wide rear haunches. The rear light clusters grow on you but it it evokes a more retro feel compared to the design language used throughout the rest of the car. There’s no rear wing to manage aero here, its entirely passive and we’re told that the car produces significantly more downforce at speed than the preceding Evora.
In short, the Lotus Emira looks stunning from almost every angle. In a step change from previous Lotus models it runs 20-inch rims all round, rather than the typical staggered inch-up at the rear. The diamond cut face of the alloys with grey dish looks even better in the metal, the significant Lotus branded [AP we presume] calipers in the newly adopted classic Lotus font look ready for serious action. On the rear wheels a subtle small secondary black caliper makes an appearance in a first for Lotus, of course for the electronic handbrake.
An extra pair of calipers in the rear mean a pair of sizeable cup holders in the centre console of what is by far Lotus’ most impressive interior by a country mile. Clear and simple LED screens, a glove box, and even their own control stalks not pinched from another marque’s parts bin. As of course it should be. Most surprisingly, ingress not only wasn’t hampered by a huge sill, but it even felt easier to hop in and out of than my Cayman.
This demonstrator Lotus Emira was a static car only, built to be rolled in and out of showrooms and so other than surveying its curves the only other big ticket item on the must do list of this event was to put bum to seat and imagine thundering down your favourite road. Things came slightly undone at this point. Not only was the seating position high, and I know this can be subjective – my GR Yaris has a similar affliction. But it wasn’t just the seating position, the seat itself was rock solid and not somewhere you’d want to spend any length of time.
Thankfully there were staff including some of the dynamics team on hand from Lotus HQ. This was the most asked question. I’d seen the Top Gear review mentioning the seat height would be 20mm lower by the time the car goes into production, which would solve the driving position issue. I was told the same, and that the demo mule had seats that weren’t representative of production and that it will be much more in line with expectations when the car rolls off the line.
Some of the carpet was coming away at the door seals. The exterior door handles didn’t sit in line with the door. This Emira is a prototype in as much as many of the parts were laser or 3D printed, not mass production representative. Now I understand that Lotus wanted the car out at Goodwood, both a smart and successful marketing move. But under harsh scrutiny from owners of McLaren, Porsche and otherwise will promises of ‘better at production’ allay any fears of those new to the marque.
I know they can do it, in fact the change in fit and finish of my 2009 Evora to that of my 2016 Exige was night and day, so I know Lotus can do it. Some will judge entirely on what’s in front of them, and by rolling out this pre-prod car Lotus have rolled the dice and some cancellations may result. Or not. Nearly all at the Rybrook event seemed to love the Emira. I certainly was taken by it, and I don’t have any reservation in confirming my erm… reservation.
I haven’t mentioned the powertrain at this stage. The first of the Launch Edition Emiras will run the same Toyota sourced Supercharged 3.5L V6 producing around 400bhp, initially mated to a 6 speed manual with a stunning exposed linkage as previously seen in the last of the Exige and Evoras and a mechanical LSD. A 4-pot AMG engine will follow later in 2022 based on the 2.0 turbocharged unit from the Mercedes A45, tuned to produce around 360bhp and only available with the Merc DCT.
Speaking of the launch edition V6 car, its priced at £76k but comes fully loaded with four option packs including the likes of keyless, heated electric memory seats, forged wheels and the ability to spec a sports suspension setup at no cost along with Michelin Cup 2s all within the launch price. The base car will follow priced from £60k but with orders as they are it could be well into 2023 before these appear.
Back to the hardware at hand, and I think the straightforward interior is exactly what it needs to be. Storage in door bins and centre console, logical control layout with a fairly low button count. Superb screens with clear displays. Quite a usable amount of storage behind the seats, 200L or to my eyes a few jerry cans or gym bags comfortably. There is a boot, which I suspect is slightly bigger than that of the Evora, the size of a golf bag although in this car the boot compartment was cut out completely and was golf-buggy like full of lead acid batteries no doubt to run the demonstrator electrics all day.
There was a drawer containing both exterior paint and interior trim samples. The demonstrator in blue with the yellow stitched alcantara inside and black pack (black roof and mirrors) in my eyes is just perfect, so if I can, I’ll have one of those please.
Emira Launch Edition Specs
3.5L V6 Supercharged, 400bhp
6 Speed Manual with LSD
4 Option Packs included in Launch Edition Spec
Choice initially of 6 colours
Priced at £75,995 with first deliveries due to start in spring 2022.
Configure your own at lotuscars.com