7 things you need to know about the all-new Lotus Emira

With a top speed of 180 mph, a KEF sound system and an AMG engine, we reveal seven secrets about Lotus’ ‘baby supercar’…

We’ve had the Elise. We’ve driven the Exige. We’ve tried the Evora. We’ve tested the Evija. But what car will follow this mouthful of motors? What mystifying, upcoming five-letter E-word will next roll off the Lotus production line?

Answer: the Emira. Pronounced ‘eh-mee-ra’, the latest coupe from the Norfolk-based brand has a name which means ‘commander’ or ‘leader’. And, after a grand reveal earlier this week, we’ve taken a closer look at the bold new sportster — from its squared-off steering wheel to its sound system…

#1: It is Lotus’ ‘last hurrah’ attempt at a petrol car

The big news, of course, is that Lotus will soon be going electric. The Emira, then, is the carmaker’s last roll of the petrol-powered dice. After it rolls out and fires up, Lotus will be focusing on its exhilarating, energising ‘Evija’ — an all-electric sportster currently in limited production.

But there are hints of the Evija to be found in the the Emira’s design — if not in the engine bay. In a bid to unify the brand’s design language, Lotus’ last petrol coupe borrows significant styling cues from its electric successor. So, while this last-of-its-kind motor may mark the end of external combustion, its design looks to the future.

#2: And that design is all about downforce and aerodynamics

Since Lotus’ humble beginnings — engineer Colin Chapman built the brand’s first factory in an old stable block — the design focus has always been on efficient aerodynamic performance. The Emira follows in these swift, tuned tyre tracks, with lead designer Daniel Durrant describing it as a ‘baby supercar’. 

Thanks to ‘intelligent engineering’ (a high-speed, low-meaning buzzword), the Emira has become the only car in its class to generate such significant downforce — giving it unrivalled grip at any speed. But, even with its svelte, calibrated body, there’s still room inside for luggage; the loading space, Lotus reassures, will take ‘a standard-sized set of golf clubs’ with room to spare. 

#3: It may be an old school engine — but the tech is brand new…

Set behind its seats, an AMG turbocharged four-cylinder engine burbles away. It’s a punchy powertrain; and one that’ll give would-be road racers a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. The top speed, reportedly, is a nippy 180 mph. But, considering any petrol engine will be considered a relic in a few years’ time, we’re turning our attention to the tech side of things…

Smart technology and sensor systems balance the road handling, and make the most of that low centre of gravity. Connected handling, too, electrifies the steering experience — and drivers can control everything from modes to music using the 10.25-inch centrally mounted touch-screen.

#4: The wheels are 20-inch; very big for a very small car

The chassis of the Emira is an evolution of the carmaker’s Evora structure. It’s the same wheelbase — but wider-track, and now features 20-inch wheels in a bid to ‘better’ the dynamics of its predecessor. That’s quite a wheel size for such a low-slung sportster — but the brand was determined to give these bigger alloys as standard. 

And they haven’t skimped on the styles. Five wheel designs are available, ranging from simple ‘Silver Alloy’ to ‘Diamond Cut Ultra Lightweight V-Spoke Forged Alloy’. And, to further personalise your Emira, you can choose between silver, red, yellow and black brake callipers. 

#5: British speaker maestros KEF have created the sound system

As this will be the last hard-hitting, ear-splitting petrol motor rolled out by Lotus, the carmaker has invested in an audio system that can be heard above the Emira’s roar. To do so, they drove 130 miles down the road to KEF, where the luxury British loudspeaker manufacturer fitted the Emira with an incredible a 10-channel sound system.

It’s a better set-up than most people have in their homes. And, with KEF’s singular Uni-Q technology authentically reproducing the entire mid- and high-frequency sound spectrum, it’ll be the most hyper-realistic audio drivers have ever experienced. And that it keeps everything homespun is just a all-British bonus.

#6: There’s something wrong with that squared-off steering wheel

This is a curious one. There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for Lotus to have squared-off the Emira’s steering wheel — but they’ve done it anyway. We don’t love it; but we don’t hate it. Instead, we keep coming back to the same question. Why?

Lotus’ answer? To make it more ‘sporty’. With the black Alcantara trim, dead-centre stripe and racy yellow stitching, it’s got more than a hint of ‘F1’ about it. Add the touch-buttons and the high-tech configurable digital dash as a whole, and it almost feels like an electric car already. But, for the last hurrah of internal combustion, wouldn’t drivers have preferred something a little simpler?

#7: The best colour option honours the home of Lotus

The Emira is available in seven colours. The one you see above is ‘Seneca Blue’. Most of the other colour options, despite being visually arresting, have unimaginative names such as ‘Shadow Grey’ or ‘Magma Red’. But one offers an insight into Lotus’ motoring heritage; ‘Hethel Yellow’.

Hethel, as the brand’s superfans will doubtlessly know, is the small Norfolk village where the carmaker is headquartered. And yellow, featuring on Lotus’ badge and across much of its historic racing livery, is a shade as associated with the brand as its iconic dark green — also a colour option here; just as for ‘Dark Verdant’.

And together, these colours keep Lotus’ legacy motoring on — even if its petrol-powered chapter is coming to a close with the Emira.

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