The Lotus Emira Is An Ode To Internal Combustion Joy - SUV VEHICLE

The Lotus Emira Is An Ode To Internal Combustion Joy

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2024 green Lotus Emira
2024 Lotus Emira V-6

The First Edition Lotus Emira V-6 is entering the North American market for 2024 after a long awaited arrival from Europe. The Emira is shown here in V-6 spec, with a manual transmission and sports suspension, represents the most interactive and extreme version of Lotus’s new coupe.

Model
Emira

Engine:
3.5L Supercharged V-6

Torque
310 Lb-FT

Range
300+ miles

Transmission
6-Speed Manual

Driveline
Rear Mid-Engine, RWD

MSRP
$105,400

MSRP (As Tested)
$105,400

0-60 MPH
4.3 Seconds

Quarter-Mile
12.7 Seconds @ 111 MPH

Fuel Economy
25 MPG combined

Horsepower
400 HP
Pros
  • Glorious supercharged V-6 noises
  • Uncanny amounts of mechanical grip
  • Rarity and cool factor are off the charts
Cons
  • Harsh ride may deter some
  • Limited storage space
  • Performance specs less impressive on paper

The fact that Lotus has the nerve to sell a vehicle this emotionally interactive seems illegal. Everything is moving into a frankly extremely boring space, with one-speed, point and shoot EVs taking over. Even the internal combustion powered diehards have become soft and uninspiring, compromised for the wrong reasons. The Emira is, in many ways the anti-Tesla. For that I love it. This is a do-it-yourself, work hard for what you want, grab-it-by-the-scruff sports car that begs to be driven.



I’m going to come right out and say it: If you care, at all, about driving, the Lotus Emira should be at or near the top of your list, and at the very least, in your dreams when considering a sports car at any power level and any price point. It’s the type of car that provides you with an experience, a thrill, a real roller-coaster ride, rather than just another drive. This is, apparently, the last internal combustion powered Lotus to be built, and while that’s a shame, it sure is quite the send-off to end an era.

Our test car is a manual transmission-equipped First Edition Lotus Emira with the sport suspension option, which means the car is wearing ultra sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. From the coast, to the city, to the winding mountain roads of sunny Southern California, we put the Emira through its paces to observe how it performs in a multitude of daily and weekend driving conditions. Options are somewhat limited on the Emira, but with a fully loaded model like our test car the MSRP is $105,400. Non-First Edition cars will be available with the option for a more bare-bones vehicle if you so desire, dipping below the $100,000 mark.

In order to provide you with an honest and unbiased review, the vehicle reviewed in this article was driven on a daily basis throughout the course of daily life for a period of three days. Our test vehicle was provided by Kahn Media. For detailed insight into testing procedures and data collection, please review our methodology policy.


2024 Lotus Emira First Impressions

Don’t believe the gassed up rumors that this car suddenly softens Lotus into a perfectly subtle daily driver, and then transforms into the performance car that’s expected underneath, because that’s simply not the case. I think we are confusing upgraded materials and Apple CarPlay for a more civilized experience. While those creature comforts are definitely a welcome addition, the driving experience is still very “Lotus”. You can’t expect the Emira to be buttery smooth, and a mundane drive in the city (something people often seek) and then, with the flip of a switch, for it to become raw and focused in the canyons.

The truth is, the Lotus Emira is focused all the time

The truth is, the Lotus Emira is focused all the time. Whether it’s at 25 miles per hour through the neighborhood, or 125 on a closed course, it’s always sharp, always giving the most feedback possible, always incredibly responsive and quick to deliver exactly what the driver inputs. It’s acutely obedient, and for some, this may be a bit of work in urban environments. Personally, I celebrate the fact that it is this way. I don’t do party drugs, but this car, for me, is a drug. It’s intoxicating in its exotic nature. I don’t want the experience to end, but when it does, a break is needed.

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Exterior Dimensions

Length

174 Inches

Width

75 Inches

Height

48 Inches

Wheelbase

101.3 Inches

Front Track

64 Inches

Rear Track

63.3 Inches

Curb Weight

3,175 Pounds

Driving Impressions And Performance

All of the little quirks in the city are instantly forgiven when you drive Emira on any type of winding road or are able to stretch it’s legs. “I can’t believe it’s this good” are the words I repeated over and over again over the course of the three days I was privileged with its presence. It’s impressionable, and leaves you jaw-dropped, questioning how, in the present day, such a raw experience is even attainable. For a car to be so razor sharp all the time elevates it into a unique experience among its overly complicated competition. Emira is an occasion. The beauty lies in the truthfulness of its intent. It was engineered to be driven hard. It’s not here for excuses or lazy driving. In Emira, you’re living in the moment.

Every shift, every stab of the throttle, every ridiculously aggressive turn-in, the car matches your efforts and rewards you

The faster you drive, the better it gets. This is where Emira shines while others start to fall apart. Rather than struggling to handle curvy roads, it embraces them. Push it in the corners and rather than you becoming more fearful of the Gs you’re pulling, Emira immediately allows you to enter a unique flow when driving quickly, encouraging you to do better and work just that little bit quicker. Every shift, every stab of the throttle, every ridiculously aggressive turn-in, the car matches your efforts and rewards you with pure mechanical bliss. You get the sense the car is, “on your team” and knows the game plan down to the last detail. As it says on the key, this car is, “for the drivers”.

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Braking And Acceleration

Emira posseses a familiar powertrain, and the perfect one for the job. Yes, its origins are from a Toyota Camry. Does it matter at all? Absolutely not. That engine has come a long way from the humble sedan your grandma drives. The noise on start up is wonderful. The burbles off-throttle just cruising around town makes you giddy, catering to your inner child. How on Earth did Lotus turn a relatively mundane engine into a symphony?

With each 1,000 RPM the tone changes, giving your ears an aural journey you simply won’t forget. It just gets better and better until you hit its redline just shy of 7,000 RPM, but it feels and sounds like 10,000. The power delivery is old school, it builds, just as the noise does, and remains relentless. It feels very naturally aspirated.

Brake performance is impressive with Emira. Pedal feel is firm but undeniably progressive to every millimeter of depression. In fact, all three pedals feel appropriately weighted and progressive for sporty driving. The combination of the AP Racing brake kit, along with its relatively low weight, lets the car stop and scrub off speed in a predictable, yet aggressive fashion.

  • Acceleration 0-60 MPH: 4.3 seconds
  • Braking: 60-0 MPH: 104 feet

Performance Specifications

Engine

3.5L Supercharged V-6

Transmission

6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

400 HP @ 6,800 RPM

Torque

310 LB-FT @ 3,500 RPM

Fuel Economy (CMB)

25 MPG

0-60 MPH

4.3 Seconds

Top Speed

180 MPH

2024 Lotus Emira Fuel Economy

The EPA rated 25 MPG combined figure is surely an attainable figure, and in the city, the 23 MPG rating was easily achieved. Our highway MPG rating dipped far below the 26 MPG figure due to testing conditions being on hilly, canyon roads that encouraged sporty driving. The type of enthusiastic driving you will inevitably feel obligated to do on a highway road will bring that number down.

City

Highway

Combined

EPA Rated Economy:

23 MPG

26 MPG

25 MPG

Interior Design And Comfort

The interior of the Lotus Emira resonates with seasoned Lotus fans. It’s a warm welcome compared to the traditionally sparse interiors of Lotuses of the past. The seats are well bolstered and wrapped in rich leather, although the lumbar support, even at its most retracted setting, seemed to be a bit aggressive. Interior materials have been vastly upgraded. What looks like metal, is. What looks soft touch, is.

The steering wheel is the perfect shape and the rim thickness is perfect for sporty driving. Visibility is about what you’d expect from a low-slung sports car, although the Emira is small, something you don’t realize until it’s parked next to a Mini Cooper, making that car look like a minivan. It fits into even the tightest spaces with ease. Soundproofing is appropriate for the application here. You hear all the things you’d want to hear from a sports car, the mechanical rawness of its moving parts, but exclusion from unwanted exterior noise is dealt with to a reasonably respectable level.

Technology And Ease Of Use

Technology in the Emira is a vast improvement over the Evora it replaces. We now have a vibrant center infotainment display along with a fully digital driver gauge cluster. Apple CarPlay is standard on Emira, and works seamlessly in this application. The Kef audio system is rockin’, not that you’d end up using it that much since the car will sing to you on your entire drive.

Cargo And Storage Space

2024 green Lotus Emira
Lotus

The Lotus Emira has a reasonably sized rear cargo area that sits just behind the engine. While it is easy to access, and sealed off from the engine compartment when the hatch is closed, some heat can seep in. The rear seat configuration from the Evora has been replaced by a small cargo space behind the seats in the Emira. There is no frunk space available on this model.

Minimum Cargo Capacity (Interior)

7.3 Cubic-Feet

Trunk Cargo Capacity

5.3 Cubic-Feet

2024 Lotus Emira Vs. The Competition

It’s no secret that Lotus and Porsche go head-to-head with the Emira and Cayman models with their mid-mounted six-cylinder engines, both making around 400 horsepower. It’s the front engine M3 Competition that is the slight outlier here, but with 100 extra ponies available to deploy at a moment’s notice. It must be considered in the fight for iconic mid-sized sports coupes. Power isn’t everything though, as we’ve come to learn. BMW will have to offer more than just a fierce punch. It must be quick on its feet and be willing to dance in order to keep up with the, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” mid-engine masters.

How The Lotus Emira Compares To The Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0

  • 2024 Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0 2024 Lotus Emira V-6
    Model Cayman GTS 4.0 Emira
    Engine: 4.0L Flat Six 3.5L Supercharged V-6
    Torque 309 LB-FT 310 Lb-FT
    Transmission 6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual
    Driveline Rear Engine, RWD Rear Mid-Engine, RWD
    MSRP $95,200 $105,400
    0-60 MPH 4.3 Seconds 4.3 Seconds
    Quarter-Mile 11.8 Seconds @ 118 MPH 12.7 Seconds @ 111 MPH
    Fuel Economy 21 MPG Combined 25 MPG combined
    Horsepower 394 HP 400 HP

Due to its higher level of adjustability, the Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0 is a slightly more compliant daily driver. While it is still a raw sports car experience, the Porsche offers a more livable experience every day, while the Lotus is more of an “occasion”. Exploring the limits of these two will prove the Lotus is the slightly more exotic, more high-strung sports car that more closely emulates that of a supercar experience.

Performance

Performance advantages between these two titans is difficult to discern. On paper, the Porsche and the Lotus are quite similar. Both weigh under 3,200 pounds, both sprint to 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds, both offer superb six-cylinder mid-mounted engines connected to six-speed manuals. Where Porsche has moved on and embraced the future with their fantastic electric steering, and adaptive suspension, Lotus remains steadfast in their “don’t fix what isn’t broken” approach.

While Porsche has mastered the new-age tech, Lotus has refined their techniques. While the results of these two mighty impressive vehicles are shockingly similar, the journey to their technical limits is the differentiator. The Porsche makes the impossible accessible, while the Lotus makes you work for the reward just that little bit more. Ultimately the Lotus provides the maximum amount of pure joy, reminding the driver that good old fashioned hard work really does pay off.

Comfort

Overall comfort is slightly better in the Porsche. It has more room for your stuff, it rides better, it’s easier to shift, and it is less likely to complain to you in harsh conditions. While the Emira feels roomier inside the cabin, there simply isn’t as much usable space to keep items in place. Porshe’s seats are more comfortable, too, but both offer adequate bolstering in enthusiastic driving situations. Emira isn’t uncomfortable, but its focus is to provide the best possible dynamic performance, not everyday comfort.

Technology

While the Cayman offers the same amount of tech as the Emira, its interior and interface overall is a generation older, and it’s starting to show. Both offer Apple CarPlay and drive modes with the flip of a switch. Neither are really tech-focused or aiming to break the record for largest interior infotainment screen, and we couldn’t be happier. Less is more, here. While tech can certainly add to the experience of a vehicle, these vehicles represent the pinnacle of pure sporty driving, where physical driver interaction takes precedence over numbers and symbols on a silly screen.

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How Lotus Emira Compares To The BMW M4 Competition

  • 2024 Lotus Emira V-6 2024 BMW M4 Coupe
    Model Emira M4 Coupe
    Engine: 3.5L Supercharged V-6 3.0L I-6
    Torque 310 Lb-FT 406 LB-FT
    Transmission 6-Speed Manual 6-Speed Manual
    Driveline Rear Mid-Engine, RWD Front Engine, RWD
    MSRP $105,400 $78,100
    0-60 MPH 4.3 Seconds 4.1 Seconds
    Quarter-Mile 12.7 Seconds @ 111 MPH 12.1 Seconds @ 118 MPH
    Fuel Economy 25 MPG combined 21 MPG Combined
    Horsepower 400 HP 473 HP

On a canyon road, or on track, the Emira is the hero here. Yes, BMW continues to build upon the M4’s performance prowess, one that is legendary, but there is no denying Lotus’ knockout punch with the Emira. Day to day sports car driving is definitely more suited to the M4 driver. The adjustable suspension and extra interior room lend well to daily driving, where the Emira is simply more suited to driving and driving only.

Performance

While both vehicles here are incredible drivers for their own reasons, it’s worth celebrating the differences in how they go about executing sporty driving. The BMW M4 deploys its arsenal of technology and clever German engineering to create a seamless driving experience that can make almost every driver feel like a hero at any speed. Lotus takes a more old school approach using a combination of tried and true tactics they know enthusiasts love.

Things like hydraulic steering, a well-balanced fixed suspension, notchy six-speed manual, and a screaming firecracker of an engine all come together in a way that ultimately rewards the driver more. Where the BMW might be able to technically match or even best the Lotus on paper, it’s the Emira that shines brighter in the real world.

Comfort

This is where the BMW shines. The M4’s adaptive suspension and overall plush interior offers a far better daily driver experience, especially in heavy traffic. Its rear seats and higher cargo capacity add to the BMW’s superior “do-it-all” ethos. After all, the M4 is based on a sedan. There’s no denying the M4 is a far better daily to live with under monotonous driving situations than the Emira.

Technology

Hot take! While BMW has packed the newest version of iDrive with tons of apps and features, and many may love the added tech, adjustability, etc, perhaps things have become a bit frantic. Given the nature of the comparison, we find the overly complicated menu sets and sub-menus to be a bit monotonous. More isn’t always better when it comes to tech inside a sports car. The simplicity and ease of use with the Emira is far easier to navigate than the seemingly endless button taps inside the M4’s multitude of menus.

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Our Recommendation For Which Model You Should Buy

2024 Lotus Emira key
Garret Donahue

If you’re considering the Lotus Emira as your next ultra-slick sports car, absolutely buy the model we sampled here. The V-6 and manual are both a must to extract the very best of what Emira has to offer. The sport suspension pack is more of a smaller personal choice as it mostly comes down to the tires equipped in sport vs. non sport pack vehicles. The actual suspension itself is far less noticeable as we are dealing with a fixed set-up rather than adaptive dampers. At the end of the day, we do recommend just opting for the sport pack as the ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires provide unbelievable amounts of grip. Emira is truly something special, so you might as well spring for the most engaging version you can.

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