Lotus unveils its first all-new car for a quarter of a century with AMG power and sub-$80,000 price tag
It’s been a long time coming, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that the new Lotus Emira might finally be the beginning of the British marque’s new era. That’s because the all-new Emira is just that, all-new, and combines traditional Lotus engineering techniques such as a bonded aluminum chassis, a mid-engined layout offering two powertrain options – the 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from Toyota and Mercedes-AMG’s two-litre four-cylinder engine from the A45 – along with a raft of technology that delivers Lotus into the 21st century.
The new Emira is a direct rival for Alpine’s A110 and the Porsche 718 Cayman, sitting between the two in terms of focus and proposed performance with two very different engine options offered with three very different transmissions. With a starting price under $80,000 for the four-cylinder and over $100,000 for the V6, it’s due to hit the road in the spring of 2022. More than just being a new sports car, though, the new Emira is also the beginning of the next chapter in Lotus’s colourful history. It will also be the last pure internal combustion engine sports car the company will develop from scratch, before turning to more intensive electrification programme, which will also see it work alongside new technical partners like Alpine.
Powertrain 1 – Toyota-derived 3.5-litre V6, supercharged
The first powertrain the new Emira will use is the familiar supercharged 3.5-litre V6 from Toyota, rated at somewhere around 400bhp. It’ll be available with both a six-speed manual (complete with an exposed gear linkage as in the current cars) or a six-speed torque-converter automatic.
Despite its humble origins in all forms of mundane Toyota family cars in other markets, it’s a very different proposition now, having proven itself an effective and vocal sidekick in everything from the cruisy Evora GT410 to the hardcore Exige Cup.
This will form the upper end of the Emira range, with a circa $100-115,000 starting price and rivalling more serious sports cars such as Porsche’s Cayman GTS 4.0 and the BMW M2 Competition. This engine isn’t expected to last though, with emissions regulations continually tightening the noose on this V6, which is why Lotus will also offer the Emira with a second, more modern powertrain from its new technical partner AMG.
|Lotus Emira V6||Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0|
|Engine||6-cyl, 3456cc, supercharged||6-cyl, 3995cc|
|Gearbox||6-speed man/6-speed auto||6-speed man/7sp PDK|
|Power||400bhp @ 7000rpm (est)||394bhp @ 7000rpm|
|Torque||315lb ft @ 3500rpm (est)||310lb ft @ 5000rpm|
|Top speed||290kph (est)||293kph|
Powertrain 2 – AMG-derived 2-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged
Lotus has turned to new technical partner AMG to supply the second powertrain for the mid-engined Emira, with the German marque’s 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the A45 hot hatch. As in their applications within AMG, this engine will only be available with a dual-clutch transmission, although Lotus has yet to confirm whether it is the same unit used by AMG, or a bespoke transmission of its own.
Lotus has also yet to confirm to us whether the specific engine is the A45’s M139, or the lesser 2-litre from the A35, but either way it should yield some weight advantage over the larger and older V6, while being just as powerful even if Lotus doesn’t initially allow it to get too close to the more expensive V6.
|Lotus Emira||Alpine A110S||Porsche 718 Cayman S|
|Engine||4-cyl, 1991cc, turbo||4-cyl, 1798cc, turbo||4-cyl, 2497cc, turbo|
|Gearbox||8-speed DCT||6-speed DCT||6-speed man/7sp PDK|
|Power||360bhp @ TBC||288bhp @ 6400rpm||345bhp @ 6500rpm|
|Torque||300lb ft @ TBC||236lb ft @ 2000rpm||310lb ft @ 2100rpm|
|Top speed||273kph (est)||259kph||285kph|
All Emira models are underpinned by the same foundations, starting with the aforementioned bonded aluminium chassis which will house both transversely-mounted powertrains. Suspension is double-wishbone at all four corners, and will be available in two very distinct setups regardless of powertrain – Touring and Sport – the latter available as part of an optional Drivers Package that stiffens the springs and dampers and sits lower to the ground.
This package will also be optimised for different tyres, with standard Touring models fitted with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport rubber, but Driver’s Pack cars available with sticker Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s.
Being larger (in most directions) than both the Cayman and Alpine, and without the featherweight-focus of the latter, the Emira won’t be as lithe as its French counterpart, weighing in at 1405kg at its lightest, a near-300kg rise. This does make it bang-on the weight of a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, but weights remain to be confirmed for the four and six-cylinder Lotus models.
Lotus has kept steadfast in its application of purely hydraulic steering, though, joining McLaren as one of the very few manufacturers that have hesitated to adtop electric steering in favour of its cleaner feel, despite an admittedly tiny compromise in fuel consumption.
Design and interior
The interior ergonomics and exterior design is another artful blending of Lotus elements but reimagined for a new generation. The coke-bottle silhouette isn’t far removed from the Evora, but is interjected with an Evija-inspired side intake that breaks up the bodywork.
The same can be said for the bonnet, which integrates the shutlines into openings within the surfacing, and the new vertically stacked LED headlights and wheel arch peaks are also straight from the Evija.
The cabin is simple and elegant, finished to an unexpected high quality for a car made in Hethel, which is down to the impressive new production facility the Emira will be produced in.
Inside there’s a high double-layer centre console not unlike the Alpine A110, topped with sharp digital interfaces and minimal controls. Key functions such as the air-conditioning controls and volume are still physical switches or buttons, so too the engine start button that lives underneath a flip-up cover not unlike a Lamborghini.
The Emira will be shown in further detail at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but final specifications and details will slowly be revealed in the period between now and its arrival into dealerships in the spring of 2022. From what we’ve seen, the Emira represents more than just new faith in Lotus, but also faith in the sports car – and just in time.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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