► All-new Lotus Emira sports car
► The last new Lotus to be petrol-powered
► V6 and 4cyl performance, low weight
Lotus has revealed pricing the Emira V6 First Edition, the range-topping variant of its latest sports car. As you'd expect from the name. the First Edition packs in all the extras you can get, and provides them for £75,995.
There are four options packs on offer right now, though customers can only pick Emiras with a V6 powerplant – order books for the smaller inline-four powertrain will open later this year.
The First Edition will roll on lightweight 20-inch alloys, comes in seven colours (for now) and includes other trinkets like a LED lights all round, and a titanium exhaust finisher. Inside, exepect fully adjustable seats, climate control, cruise control and an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Everything else you need to know
Those days of imagining how Lotus can fight Porsche without excuses is over. The new Lotus Emira sports car is the reality of those dreams; a sports car developed under Chinese majority owners Geely Holdings, with design like a downsized McLaren, but an 'under £60k' price that floats it in mid-spec Porsche Cayman S waters.
Effectively a replacement for the 11-year-old Evora (now an £86k car) the two-seat Emira will also fill the gap vacated by the Elise and Exige, partly explaining why it's being offered with both the familiar supercharged Toyota V6 and a turbo four-cylinder supplied by Mercedes-AMG. Helping bolster the business plan, its platform will also be offered to other manufacturers.
Give me the Emira's performance specs
The 3.5-litre V6 will produce 394bhp with either a manual or auto transmission, while the AMG motor, which arrives later, is good for 355bhp and drops CO2 below 180g/km. Lotus is targeting a sub-4.5-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of up to 180mph – pretty much exactly the same performance figures from Porsche's 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 and Alpine's A110S.
The four-cylinder option will be paired exclusively with the dual-clutch automatic also used by AMG. There'll be other variants, of course, but no convertible or hybrid.
Two different chassis tunes are available on passive dampers, Tour and Sports (the latter 'slightly stiffer' set-up is available with an options pack that also brings forged alloys, stickier tyres and two-piece brakes). Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport tyres are standard (a relationship that goes way back to Esprit days), or there's the option of more aggressive Michelin Cup 2 rubber; both are bespoke compounds.
So it's not just a tarted-up Evora then...
The Lotus team used the Evora as its own benchmark, but wholly improved the recipe. The fundamentals are familiar, including an extruded and bonded aluminium chassis, comparable dimensions at 4412mm long, 1985mm wide and 1225mm high (the Evora measures 4394/1972/1223mm, with the same 2575mm wheelbase), a transverse mid-mounted engine, hydraulic steering and rear-wheel drive.
But even that familiar-sounding chassis is actually new, dubbed Sports Car Architecture. When Kershaw reels off the other changes – new subframes, uprights, wishbones, engine mounting system, brakes, steering rack and column, stability control – it's clear just how little actually carries over.
It's definitely a show-stopper to look at!
There are echoes of Evora, of course, but up-to-date details from the Evija electric hypercar, too. 'We wanted the drama of a supercar in the sports-car class, to differentiate it from other people,' design boss, Russell Carr explains. 'The general form language is very soft surfaces with crisp lines to play with light and shadow and make it look athletic. The cabin is hunkered down between the wheelarches like a sports prototype, but without compromising how you get in and out. And everything is shrink-wrapped to minimise overhangs – we want it to look how it drives.'
'Some elements of Emira aren't as slim or lean because we want this car to have a little bit more substance because of what it's competing against – that's intentional. But there are also technical attributes. The Evija is wider and has the carbon tub, so we could introduce porosity, but on Emira we have the transverse engine, where the extrusions need to sit, the radiators – that all feeds in.'
What about the interior?
The Emira was conceived from the start as a 2+0, freeing up space for 'a flight case in the boot and two suitcases behind the seats', positively impacting the design and the rest of the cabin. There are even cupholders, door bins and storage cubbies.
A full 12.3-inch TFT configurable screen lies ahead of the driver, and another 10.25-inch touchscreen with the usual plus g-force, tyre pressures and – optionally – lap times. You can even spec driver-assistance features like an anti-collision system and rear cross-traffic alert. All mod cons here.
There's some switchgear from elsewhere in the Geely group and overall there isn't the same precision feel and crispness of graphics as a Cayman, but there's no question that access, quality, storage and the infotainment are all far more competitive than that seen in the Evora.
Lotus Emira: price and on-sale date
The V6 Emira is being launched first, with deliveries early in 2022. A price tag of 'under £60,000' will is the target here – we'll find out more pricing details later in 2021, no doubt.
The four-cylinder version follows in the summer of 2022, so it'll be a while before we can name our preference.
Read our Lotus reviews here