All you need to know about the new Lotus Emira

Lotus took advantage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed to introduce the Emira in its almost final version. Going on sale next Spring and retailing at around €65,000, it will be pitched as a competitor of the Porsche Cayman. The Emira is the first Lotus to be produced as part of the ‘Vision 80’ plan to develop the brand by 2028, its eightieth anniversary.

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Designed by Russell Carr and Lotus’ in-house design team, the Emira has supercar proportions. The air intakes are numerous and well integrated into the lines. The traditional shape of the brand’s front grille is also featured.

End of an era…

The Emira is the last petrol-engined Lotus and is neither hybrid nor electric. After the all-electric Evija, this is the second production car the brand launches since Geely took control. The Chinese group has not only financed the development of these two new cars but also invested heavily in new production capacities and equipment to improve the quality of the cars produced in Hethel. In the near future, Lotus plans to produce electric SUVs (in a new factory in Wuhan, China) as well as a new electric sports car, in partnership with Alpine.

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Seen from the rear, the Emira is well planted on 20″ wheels. The engine is visible through the rear window. The engines will still be the well-known supercharged Toyota 3.5 litre V6 , along with also the two-litre four-cylinder of the AMG A45. Geely owning a share of Daimler’s capital, the partnership was therefore easier to seal.

A real Lotus

The Emira is based on Lotus’ new ‘Sports Car Architecture’. It still uses extruded and bonded aluminium for the chassis, a Lotus speciality since the release of the Elise in 1996. These techniques have allowed the brand to develop a very rigid chassis that offers a high level of handling at a lower cost. The Emira’s chassis comes from a new factory in Norwich called “Lotus Advanced Structures”. The chassis will be  transported a few miles away to Hethel for assembly and painting, the site being now partly automated, with a new 12,000 m2 workshop is dedicated to this.  This building remained unfinished for more than ten years… after the promises of the Bahar era. In 2010, the former Lotus CEO planned to bring out a completely new range in a few years, but no project finally materialised due to a lack of funds. Since the takeover by Geely, investment in new production capacities and equipment has reached £100 million. Lotus’ aim is to maintain the ‘handmade’ feel of its cars, while improving quality and ensuring it is much more consistent from one car to another. The Emira is 4.41m long, 1.98m wide and 1.22m high, with a wheelbase of 2.57m, roughly the same dimensions as the Evora. The tracks are wider and the wheels are now larger 19 and 20″ ones. Stability is improved, according to Lotus, as is handling, with a very low centre of gravity. Weighing almost the same as the Evora, (1,405kg), the car has been through a strict diet in order to compensate for the weight of the new onboard technology.

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The first Emira will be delivered next Spring. Called the « Launch Edition », it will only be available with the Toyota engine, with manual or automatic gearboxes. The AMG engine version will be available from next Summer, and will be exclusively mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Supercar aesthetics

Aesthetically, the Emira is inspired by the Evija and supercars such as the McLaren: sitting squat to the ground, quite wide, with large air intakes, reduced overhangs and rather voluminous rear wings, its proportions are balanced and very dynamic. The successful design is signed by Lotus design boss Russell Carr. There are no moving parts to improve its aerodynamics but, according to Lotus, « a balance between the effects of air on the front and the rear that ensures perfect handling when cornering at very high speeds while providing a safe and precise ride in all circumstances”.

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The dashboard features two screens. The materials are much higher quality than on the current Lotus range, in order to seduce a new customer base: still focused on driving pleasure but less willing to make concessions in terms of comfort or equipment.

High-flying chassis

The chassis uses double wishbones front and rear, with two available suspension configurations : the “Tour” version is more comfortable and fitted as standard, while the “Sport” version will be firmer and sportier. It will also give access to an optional “Driver Pack” featuring launch control and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres instead of the Good Year Eagle F1 Supersport of the other version. In both cases, the steering is hydraulically- assisted and not electric, a fact that is rare enough to be highlighted. Braking uses four-wheel discs with ABS.

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AMG engine

The engine is still located transversally at the rear. From next spring, the first cars, called « Launch Edition », will receive Toyota’s 3.5-litre V6 supercharger and a manual or automatic transmission. A few months later, in Summer, the Emira will be offered with a 4-cylinder, 2-litre engine from… AMG : This is the same engine used in the  A45 ! Geely having a stake in Daimler, which controls AMG. This obviously made things easier to establish a technical partnership between the two small manufacturers. The four-cylinder AMG will receive bespoke engine management, air intake and exhaust. It will only be available with an 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox. No all-wheel drive version is planned. Lotus hasn’t released any performance figures for the moment, just that different power levels would be available, offering between 350 and 400bhp. The 0 to 100 km/h should be covered in less than 4.5 seconds and top speed should be about 290km/h. The entire range is expected to emit less than 180g CO2/km.

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Using an evolution of the current chassis, the Emira will feature a rear transverse engine. The suspension will use double wishbone on all four wheels. The standard chassis will be named « Tour » and more comfort- orientated, while a sportier « Driver pack » with high performance Michelin tyres and launch control will be available as an extra.

Up to date equipment and easier to use everyday

Compared to the current Lotus cars (Elise, Exige and Evora), the Emira is designed to be easier to use on an everyday basis. It will be much easier to get in and out than, say, an Exige! The interior space is even bigger than in the Evora. Interior materials and fit and finish will be of much higher quality and ta whole range of storage spaces will be featured, in addition to the classic door bins and central cup holders. The space behind the seats offers a capacity of over 200 litres, while a boot behind the engine offers another 150 litres. On top of that, the car benefits from much more advanced equipment. It includes full LED lighting, keyless start, adaptive cruise control, anti-collision system, rear obstacle detection, lane assist, rain sensor, electrically folding mirrors and reversing radar (standard on the rear and optional on the front). On the dashboard there are two screens: the first one measures 12.3 » and is placed right in front of the driver, while the central 10.25 » screen hosts a multimedia system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also controls a 10-speaker KEF audio system!

The interior will be more spacious than the one of an Elise or Exige, with more storage space and easier access to the car. This will allow the Emira to be used on a daily basis! Manual cars will still feature a visible linkage, a now traditionnal Lotus touch.

In addition to the multi-function steering wheel, power seats are standard. Sport seats with twelve adjustment possibilities will be available as extra. The installation of these features is possible thanks to a new electric-electronic architecture borrowed from Geely and adapted by Lotus. However, despite all this modern-day equipment, some classic Lotus touches will be retained, such as the visible gearbox linkage on manual transmission cars. Lotus insists that all this technology won’t have an adverse effect on performance or driving pleasure. However, it should help to reach a new customer base that is more technology- minded than the hardcore sports car enthusiasts. The brand contemplates the  production of around 4800 Emiras per year, a significant change compared to the current level of around 1500 units.

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