2022 Lotus Emira officially revealed07/06/2021
Mercedes-AMG power, Evija-inspired looks and less than £60k – time to get hugely excited if you weren't already
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, July 6, 2021 / Loading comments
Here it is, then! After the previews, sneak peeks and promises, this is the Lotus Emira that will go on sale in spring 2022, the car to single-handedly replace the Elise, Exige and Evora, not to mention take its place in history as Lotus’s final combustion-engined sports car. No pressure…
Lotus says the new model “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’.” It’s built on a new, bonded aluminium Sports Car Architecture, will use a Mercedes-AMG four-cylinder turbo engine (as well as the familiar V6), weigh from 1,400kg and cost less than £60,000. It’s aimed squarely at the Porsche 718 Cayman, in both standard and 4.0 GTS form.
Though the Sports Car Architecture uses the same construction method first used in the Elise, the Emira platform is different in every dimension to any previous Lotus and is being built at the new Advanced Structures facility in Norwich. The Emira is 4,412mm long (with a 2,575mm wheelbase), 1,895mm wide and 1,225mm high; perhaps not as dainty as Lotuses of old (which were a pain to fit into) but offering the widest track of any Lotus ever and ideally placed against the Porsche, which is 4,379mm long, 1,801mm wide and 1,295mm high. This being a Lotus, weight is important as well; at the moment a 1,405kg DIN “target weight” is being suggested for the very lightest Emira, although it hasn’t yet been confirmed. The DIN kerbweight of a 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is also 1,405kg…
But just look at what’s covering over the surprisingly heavy aluminium – doesn’t the Emira look superb? There’s clear and deliberate Evija influence, most notably in the front end, sculpted doors, and vents in the rear haunches. The vents in the bonnet, acting like a Ferrari S-Duct and guiding air over the car, are also inspired by the EV hypercar. But any fears of the Emira only paying homage to the old cars (or, conversely, too closely copying the Evija) have been swiftly allayed. And people thought a Supra looked good for a four-cylinder sports car…
The new platform allows the fitment of 20-inch wheels to all Emiras, which is a far cry from the models we’ve become used to. That said, there are some welcome dynamic trademarks as well; somehow hydraulic steering has been preserved against all odds, and the standard suspension set-up is a passive one. Lotus believes that ‘Tour’ will deliver “the optimum blend of Lotus dynamic performance and handling with a more comfortable ride.” The Lotus Drivers Pack introduces ‘Sports’, which offers a “slightly stuffer suspension set-up for enhanced dynamic capability and feel.” It also includes Launch Control, and a more aggressive tyre: a bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 replacing the standard Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport.
Tasked with testing those tyres will be two Emira powertrains. The first is very familiar, with all First Edition cars to be powered by the 3.5-litre supercharged V6, which seems destined to be available with its existing manual and automatic gearboxes. Expect 400hp, 180mph, 0-62mph in four seconds or so and that familiar wail to top it all off. Lotus says dual-clutch Emiras will be offered, though it seems unlikely the DCT will be paired with the V6 given that kind of transmission has never been seen in the decade or so of Lotus using it. That gearbox will be kept for the AMG four-cylinder…
The revelation of the new technical partnership drew audible gasps in PH Zoom chats – but of course once you’ve sat down, had a cup of tea and thought about, it makes perfect sense. It means the entry-level models coming next summer will be powered by a 360hp version of the 2.0-litre M139 used in the Mercedes-AMG A45 range. And, quite frankly, you couldn’t ask for a more exciting modern four-cylinder unit, even with power pegged back from the 421hp it now produces in the hatchback. (Lotus only says for the moment the Emira will make 360hp-400hp, so we’re assuming lowest for the 2.0-litre and highest for the 3.5)
Gavan Kershaw said of the AMG unit: “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.” Those tweaks include a new intake and exhaust “to suit the character of the Emira.” Not all sports car transitions to four-cylinder turbo power have exactly been well received, though who better than Lotus and AMG to work on a successful solution?
However, if anything, making a new Lotus drive and handle well was always going to be the easy part – because they’ve always been able to do that. The trickier issue has often been in the packaging; nobody would ever deny that an Exige thrilled in ways not a single rival could match, but sports cars don’t only have to deal with track days. They need to take people and luggage on holiday, fit takeaway coffees in, stream podcasts and make the driver feel good about their expensive purchase. A Lotus wouldn’t always do that, where you could guarantee a rival like Porsche – or even something along the lines of a Jaguar F-Type – would make sure of it.
Encouragingly, the Emira has a drastically different interior from anything we’ve seen out of Norfolk in recent years. Lotus describes it as nothing less than a “huge step-change” in every aspect, “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.”
Certainly it looks much more alluring, with new digital displays – 12.3-inch behind the driver, 10.25-inch centrally – a Lamborghini-style starter button and a flat-bottomed wheel. Perhaps just as encouragingly, the Emira comes with all-new (and electric!) seats as well and the promise of improved ingress/egress. Note as well central cupholders alongside doorbins that can take 500ml bottles, phone storage, a USB slot that isn’t the other side of the cabin and – get this – a glovebox. Those keen on a manual Emira will be pleased to know that the exposed linkage is retained, too. Lotus says there are 208 litres of stowage behind the seats, plus another 150 behind the engine that can take a carry-on case or a set of golf clubs. And nothing says grown up sports car like a suitcase or a golf bag…
Lotus MD Matt Windle has said of the new car: “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.” Given all that’s coming – the new platform, an AMG engine, a genuinely livable interior – it’s surely fair to assume there’s quite a lot of excitement around the Emira. Lotus dealers are taking deposits now for the V6 First Edition ahead of spring deliveries; those not in the fortunate position to be eyeing one up for real can hopefully be consoled by the configurator that’s just gone live. Lotus is hosting an Emira reveal at Hethel this evening, ahead of the car’s debut at Goodwood this weekend. We expect the excitement there to be tangible.
Picture credit:Harry Rudd
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