Review

2022 Lotus Emira Is Modern but with an Unmistakable Lotus Pedigree

  • The 2022 Lotus Emira will serve as replacement for both the Elise and Exige, becoming the specialist automaker’s only sports-car line—and its last to have a internal-combustion engine.
  • The Emira will have a choice of two engines: an AMG-sourced four-cylinder making 360 horsepower or the supercharged 400-hp Toyota V-6 currently offered in the Evora.
  • We expect a price somewhere in the $70,000 range and a U.S. on-sale date in early 2022.

    New Lotus models don’t come along very often, a point made by the new Emira, which you are seeing here in production-ready form for the first time. This is the British maker’s first all-new sports car since the Evora was launched as long ago as 2009, with the Emira also set to effectively replace both the Elise (a development of a car introduced in 2001) and V-6-powered Exige S (which made its debut in 2012). The Emira will become Lotus’s only sports-car line and its last model to be powered by a combustion engine. From here onward, all new cars will be full EVs.

    Like its predecessors, the Emira sits on a bonded aluminum chassis, with tightly wrapped fiberglass bodywork. The new car’s design clearly understudies that of the Evija EV hypercar, featuring a very similar front-end treatment and with heavily contoured scoops integrated into doors helping to channel air to intakes for the mid-mounted engine. At 173.7 inches in overall length, the Emira is 2.8 inches longer than the Evora but sits on an identical 101.4-inch wheelbase. Despite that, access to the cabin has been improved with a narrower sill and a larger door aperture. The Emira doesn’t have active aerodynamic elements, but Lotus says it will produce positive downforce with the forces carefully balanced between each end.

    The cabin also feels much more up-to-date than Lotus’s aged outgoing models. The Emira gets a 10.2-inch central touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as standard, although we’re glad to see the company has opted to keep conventional controls for heating and ventilation as well. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration will come as standard.

    Practicality has been improved with twin cupholders, twin USB and 12V charging ports between the seats and door bins able to accommodate a half-liter bottle. Active safety systems including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, automated emergency braking, and road sign information will be offered as options—all firsts for Lotus. The Emira will be a strict two-seater, without the Evora’s “plus two” option, with the cabin space behind the seats giving 7.3 cubic feet of luggage space in addition to a 5.3-cubic-foot compartment behind the engine.

    As we previously reported, two engines will be offered, with Lotus now confirming that the smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo will be supplied by AMG. This will make 360 horsepower, less than the same engine produces in the A45 but slightly more than the turbocharged flat-four that powers the Porsche Cayman S. Lotus will also continue to offer the 3.5-liter supercharged Toyota V-6 from the Evora, although the 400 horsepower of the car’s launch spec represents a decrease from the 416-hp Evora GT. Lotus has only released a torque figure for the V-6: 317 pound-feet, corresponding to the figure for the manual-transmission Evora.

    Lotus insiders say that both engines will gain more powerful derivatives over time, and that the V-6 will ultimately be phased out as emissions standards grow tougher. (There will never be a hybrid or plug-in-hybrid version because the platform doesn’t support the need to accommodate batteries.) That means the chance to get an Emira with a manual gearbox will be a limited one, as the stick shift will only be offered with the V-6. The four-cylinder will come with a standard dual-clutch transmission. Lotus will also continue to offer a torque converter auto with the V-6. Lotus boss Matt Windle has also confirmed the car will stick with hydraulically assisted steering in place of an electrically boosted rack, this on the entirely justifiable basis of better sensation and feedback.

    Lotus hasn’t given comprehensive specifications yet but says the quickest version of the Emira—which we’re presuming will be the V-6—will be able to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in less than 4.5 seconds and have a 180-mph top speed. Nor do we have a detailed weight beyond the claim that the lightest version will be 3097 pounds; the Evora GT weighed 3112 pounds when we tested it.

    We don’t have U.S. pricing yet, but Lotus says it is targeting a European price for the entry-level version that will be close to that of the Porsche 718 Cayman S, which would translate to the low $70,000s if it holds true when the car crosses the Atlantic. Sales will begin in early 2022.

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