Lotus Emira 2022: Hethel’s latest internal combustion sports car

Lotus fans flocking to pre-order the next Emira believe it could represent the pinnacle of internal combustion sports cars before the industry’s full transition to electrification. Michael van runkle

Next year Lotus will replace the long-running Evora GT with the all-new Emira, which will go down in history as the iconic English automaker’s latest internal combustion sports car. Arguably, the Emira might just be the last truly analog sports car available from any manufacturer, thanks to its focused refinement of everything that has made the Evora so unique for so long.

But as the rest of the auto industry moves full steam ahead towards electrification, the gasoline-powered Emira ushers in a new era for Lotus itself.

Following the acquisition of the company in 2017 by Geely and Etika Automotive, Lotus announced its intention to switch to a fully electric range by 2028. Like many electric vehicle startups at the time, the management of the Newly-christened Lotus group decided to launch a high-performance model as a proof of concept, with the resulting Evija undergoing prototype testing by 2020. Upcoming ‘lifestyle model’ teasers followed, including this which looks a lot like an electric crossover (or two) teased last month and known only as the Type 132 so far.

Building on the Evija and Type 132, Lotus plans to dramatically increase production totals over the next decade. New automated manufacturing processes installed earlier this year at its Hethel, England plant for Emira production will help streamline the assembly and introduction of future products, including electric vehicles.

The Last hurray for ICE?

The outgoing Evora debuted in 2009 as a 2010 model year. The mid-engined 2 + 2 changed little over the next decade and more, serving as a sort of grand touring counterpoint to ‘Lotus’ minimalism. More traditional of the Exige. Even with more creature comfort than the stripped-down Exige, the Evora GT feels light and understated compared to much of today’s bloated and numb sports car market.

The Lotus Evora GT inspires confidence in the corners with prodigious grip, impeccable suspension and just enough straight-line speed to keep up with the supercars. Michael van runkle

When equipped with the spectacular six-speed manual transmission, the 2021 Evora GT weighs just 3,175 pounds in wet conditions and inspires the utmost confidence during spirited driving. The mid-engine layout and balanced suspension create the perfect amount of body roll, which changes to a squat in the corners to set the driver up for maximum traction before smashing the throttle, unleashing the 416 horsepower of its 3-supercharged V6. , 5 liters.

But the Evora is showing its age, especially on the interior, where the button placement looks arbitrary and the infotainment is handled by an aftermarket Alpine touchscreen. Unlike the day-to-day handling made possible by the adaptive dampers and steering settings now available on a budget Hyundai Elantra N, for example, the Evora GT’s shocks produce bumps and rattles on all but the most highways. smooth. Lotus deserves credit for remaining committed to the hydraulic power steering which works admirably at higher speeds, although the delicate system also makes city driving less enjoyable.

All of the Evora’s shortcomings are rooted in the specially designed track capabilities and the dollar-per-dollar performance ethic that have made the Elise and Exige such desirable and affordable sports cars. But in 2021, the Evora GT’s final year, prices have soared well above $ 100,000 for a car that feels completely outdated.

Now the new Emira looks set to set a new standard for a Lotus-style grand tourer. It features updated creature comforts, refined technology, and stellar styling that challenges real supercars at a fraction of the price.

Lotus rulers spill the beans

In a recent media event featuring the Emira, Lotus executives traveled to Los Angeles to reveal the most important details of the Emira, many of which have been lost in the internet translation. Some of the confusion regarding the Emira and Evora’s relationship can be attributed to the fact that the wheelbases of both cars remain the same length. To help clean the air, Lotus Director of Attributes Gavan Kershaw walked through the fundamentals of the new design, which began with an all-new tub, new subframe, and suspension components that produced a track that is two inches wider.

The Emira First Edition will be available in six unique colors: Hethel Yellow (pictured), Seneca Blue, Magma Red, Dark Verdant, Shadow Gray and Nimbus Gray. It is said that additional colors will follow. Lotus

Kershaw pointed out how the Emira would feel ergonomically different from the Evora. The new tub moves the entire cockpit aft, resulting in larger door openings, more legroom and more room between driver and passenger. Gone is the “2 + 2” designation, which seemed inappropriate anyway, given the Evora’s rear seat cushions held in place by Velcro. Instead, the interior now flows from the instrument panel to the door through the seat back, with a leather waterline that includes digital touchscreens at the top and more traditional switches and buttons in below, now residing in better placed locations. And visibility improves noticeably through the rear window above the supercharger and intake manifold.

A 360-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four courtesy of Mercedes-AMG joins Toyota’s optional 3.5-liter V6 on the Emira, mated only to an eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle. The V6 will produce 400 horsepower and comes only with the six-speed manual transmission, which now features elegant exposed linkages in the cabin. Unfortunately, new regulations forced Lotus to ditch the Sport exhaust button which is so fun on the Evora in favor of new valve tuning for the Emira which creates more “pop and bang” plus a screaming scream. full red line.

Lotus decided not to add adjustable shocks to the Emira in favor of two different specs: Tour and Sport. The latter uses firmer shocks and stabilizer bars, more aggressive seat bolsters, and a different set of wheels and tires. Meanwhile, a new steering rack should help improve the feel and response of the power steering (still hydraulic). All in all, despite adding a lot more tech, a leather-trimmed interior, and a wider bodywork, the Emira only adds about 30 pounds to the Evora GT’s curb weight while still producing three times. more downforce at high speed.

Can the Lotus Emira outclass the Porsche?

Lotus Group Managing Director Matt Wintle predicted strong sales numbers for the Emira, thanks to the eye-catching exterior, sleek interior, and refocused commitment to driving dynamics. Before being replaced by the all-electric range in 2028, Emira’s total production could reach 60,000, including up to 7,700 for the limited series of First Edition models.

Emira’s interior looks and feels a lot more modern and cohesive than that of the outgoing Evora. Lotus

Kershaw, meanwhile, admitted that Lotus was specifically targeting Porsche’s Cayman GT4, which he hopes the Emira will court potential buyers (hitting a road-going Emira GT4 only produced a blink of an eye. sickening eye of Wintle).

Wintle also confirmed that Evora’s production actually ended in May 2021 to allow for Hethel’s complete overhaul of an assembly line where human workers complement increasingly self-sufficient production. Whether someone will actually buy one of the remaining Evora GTs currently on sale remains a matter of immediate gratification compared to patiently waiting for Emira’s deliveries, optimistically targeted for mid-2022.

Hethel’s new assembly line also keeps the price of the Emira much lower than the outgoing Evora GT. Kershaw promises MSRP will start at £ 60,000, or roughly $ 80,000, depending on conversion rates. At that price, Emira costs about $ 30,000 less than the Evora GT and $ 20,000 less than the Cayman GT4.

Colin Chapman’s challenge in the age of electric vehicles

By specs, the outgoing Exige could weigh less than 2,000 pounds, an impressive figure. The new Emira, which we estimate to weigh around 30 pounds more, cuts the curb weight of the Cayman GT4, a main competitor, by around 100 pounds. But the Cayman-Boxster siblings both look set to add weight in the near future, as the newly unveiled Cayman GT4 RS marks the last high-performance iteration of the model before the next generation swings towards – surprise. surprise – an all-electric transmission.

A complete renovation of Lotus’s facilities in Hethel is underway to accommodate the future of electric vehicles. Lotus
The new Emira benefits from numerous assembly line improvements. Lotus

The heavy batteries that power electric cars present a dilemma for Lotus, which has long strived to live by founder Colin Chapman’s maxim, “Simplify, then add light.” This ethos seems in danger; Lotus claims the Evija will produce just under 2,000 horsepower from four electric motors, one at each wheel, but it will also be the heaviest Lotus ever built at 3,700 pounds. And an electric crossover will undoubtedly weigh a lot more.

The future lies ahead and Lotus put this plan in place years ago. On his phone, Wintle teased a photo of the new Lotus assembly line, showing automation updates already underway. And Kershaw lamented the signatures of human builders on the dashboard that will disappear with the Evora – he hopes the noticeable improvement in build quality throughout should make up for the loss of this holdover from a previous era.

The changes to come require a change in the classic Lotus mindset. No doubt hydraulic power steering will make way for EPS on the Evija and Type 132. Expect those electronically adjustable shocks, too. The production of a series of consumer vehicles also requires more services, technicians and customer service. Lotus Global Sales and Service Director Geoff Dowding revealed plans to open ten new Lotus locations in North America alone, along with a central online parts catalog available to assist dealers and the owners.

In the last few years before Hethel went fully electric, reservation holders for the Emira are hoping their new cars will bridge a gap between the analog Evora GT and future electric vehicles while introducing stylistic and technical improvements including Lotus. needs to upgrade into the modern age effectively.

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Kevin A. Perras