All-new Lotus Emira kickstarts firm's reinvention with AMG power Wed, 07 Jul 2021 00:00:00 +0100-The new Lotus Emira sports car will initially offer between 355bhp and 395bhp, and will start from less than £60000.
We’ve been waiting to see how Lotus would transform its line-up under its new Chinese owner – and here’s the first example of the brand’s new vision: the Lotus Emira.
The all-new mid-engined model will mix Lotus’s traditional lightweight approach with cutting-edge tech when it reaches customers next spring. It uses the brand’s fresh Sports Car Architecture – a further evolution of the bonded aluminium chassis structure that made its debut on the original Elise, but with different dimensions, so it will weigh from as little as 1,405kg. And it will be offered with four- and six-cylinder power.
The looks of the new model, created by Lotus’s chief designer Russell Carr, mix cues from the all-electric Evija hypercar with nods to previous models. The Emira is 4,412mm long and 1,895mm wide – around 20mm longer and 10mm wider than the Evora. At the front, vertical LED headlights sit at either side of a bonnet that incorporates exit vents to help channel airflow over the car.
The rear brings elements from the Evija – in particular, the deep scallops in the bumper – along with an integrated spoiler that harks back to the first Elise. On the whole, the car has a complex, aggressive stance, delivering on the traditional Lotus approach of “functional aesthetics”.
There will be a choice of two engines. The more potent unit is a familiar one – the 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from Toyota that was previously used in the Evora and Exige. This will form the basis of the ‘First Edition’ models that will lead the car’s launch; Lotus dealers are taking deposits now, and first deliveries should arrive in spring 2022.
By summer of next year the car will also be offered with a four-cylinder turbocharged Mercedes-AMG motor. Codenamed M139, this is the most powerful production engine of its type, producing as much as 415bhp in the A 45 S AMG hot hatch, although it will get a new air intake and a bespoke exhaust in this sports car. AMG has been confirmed as a full technical partner in the project.
Lotus hasn’t issued specific outputs yet, but it says the Emira will offer between 355bhp and 395bhp. The V6 is likely to be the more potent of the engines at launch, but given tightening emissions rules in key markets, its life is likely to be shorter than the Emira’s overall. Lotus could then ramp up the power of the M139 for faster four-cylinder versions of the car in due course.
The Emira will be rear-wheel drive only and offered with a choice of manual and automatic gearboxes on the V6, and a dual-clutch auto only on the 2.0-litre model. The car will hit 62mph in less than four seconds and reach up to 180mph, while its CO2 emissions will start at less than 180g/km.
There will be two chassis and suspension configurations. Tour is claimed to deliver typical Lotus dynamics while introducing greater comfort, while Sports brings a stiffer suspension set-up for better on-track capability. The power steering is a hydraulic system, designed to offer better feedback.
The car’s interior marks even more of a change for Lotus – and it’s arguably here where owner Geely’s more lofty ambitions for the brand become evident. The driver-focused dashboard features a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, and a 10.25-inch central touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates Android and Apple integration. There’s also a flat-bottomed steering wheel and extensive use of double stitching, including across the top of the fascia. The use of common Geely switchgear in the Emira appears minimal.
The cabin packaging is said to offer more space than in previous Lotus models, better able to accommodate both short and tall occupants. There’s significantly better storage too, with door bins that can hold half-litre bottles, a pair of cup-holders with a smartphone storage slot between them, a trinket tray, an armrest between the seats, and USB and 12V charging ports. There are 208 litres of luggage space behind the two seats, and a further 151 litres in the boot behind the engine; Lotus says the second of these load bays can hold an aircraft cabin-compatible bag or a set of golf clubs.
Matt Windle, Lotus’s recently appointed managing director, called the Emira “the most accomplished Lotus road car ever”. It will be built at the established facility, which has been going through an extensive refit as part of a £100m investment. “The Emira is a junior supercar with all the thrills found in the greatest Lotus cars, but at the same time it’s an everyday sports car that’s high on comfort and functionality,” Windle said.
Lotus appears keen to position the Emira at a slightly lower price point than that previously occupied by the Evora; it says the new arrival will be priced from less than £60,000. That means it should slot into the gap between Porsche’s four-cylinder Cayman S and the £82k entry-level 911 Carrera.
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New 2022 Lotus Emira starts bold new era for British brand Wed, 07 Jul 2021 00:00:00 +0100-Porsche Cayman rival gets updated platform, transformed cabin and choice of V6 or turbo four power.
The 0-62mph time will be less than 4.5sec and the car will be able to reach a top speed of more than 180mph. CO2 emissions, meanwhile, will officially be below 180g/km.
In terms of design, the Emira takes heavy influence from the new Evija, sitting low and wide with prominent intakes, short overhangs and bulky haunches among its defining characteristics.
Styled by Lotus design boss Russell Carr, the Emira has been made more usable and fitted with more technology than any Lotus before it.
That modernisation push extends most obviously to LED lighting at the front and rear and, on the inside, a 10.25in touchscreen for an infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, along with a 12.3in digital driver’s information display.
The interior is completely unrelated to that of any previous Lotus. It is not only easier to get in and out of but also more spacious in its feel (ingress, egress and head room are claimed to match the class leader), trimmed in higher-quality materials and fitted with an array of clever tech and storage integrations.
These include twin central cupholders and extra storage in larger doorbins. There’s a 208-litre cargo hold behind the seats and 151 litres of space in a boot behind the engine.
A significant increase in convenience features brings a multifunction steering wheel, a 10-channel premium sound system from KEF, four-way electrically adjustable seats as standard (12-way-adjustable sports seats are optional), keyless ignition, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, electrically folding wing mirrors, rear parking sensors, optional front parking sensors and an automatically dimming rear-view mirror.
Despite all the new tech and richer materials, some classic Lotus features, such as a semi-exposed gear linkage on manual cars, are retained. Adaptive cruise control, an anti-collision system, fatigue alert, road sign detection, a speed limiter, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-changing assistance all feature as part of the ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) suite. This is made possible by a new electrical architecture taken from Geely but adapted to Lotus’s needs.
All these advancements in making a more usable everyday Lotus don’t come at the expense of the driving performance, Lotus insists.
As managing director Matt Windle put it, these features have been added to “make it appeal to another set of buyers while retaining the same core Lotus dynamics”.
The Emira uses double- wishbone suspension all-round and retains hydraulic (rather than electric) steering, which will delight Lotus purists.
Two chassis settings will be offered: the standard Tour, which allows a softer ride, and the stiffer Sport, which will be offered with an optional Lotus Driver’s Pack. This includes launch control and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres in place of the standard Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport rubber.
The Emira doesn’t feature any active aerodynamics but instead produces balanced downforce between the front and rear that provides more grip in corners while retaining precise, predictable handling.
“The Emira has a wider track than any recent Lotus road car, enhancing stability, delivering exceptional roadholding and giving the sensation of a very low centre of gravity,” said Gavan Kershaw, Lotus’s director of vehicle attributes. “It’s a true Lotus sports car that builds on the legacy of the Elise, Exige and Evora.”
While the Emira is around 5kg heavier than the Evora, at 1405kg, it has still undergone a series of weight-saving measures to compensate for the significant increase in technology and features that have been introduced, which would otherwise have made the car notably heavier.
The vehicle architecture is constructed at a new factory in Norwich called Lotus Advanced Structures in a more automated process, before being transported the 10 miles to the company’s base in Hethel. Here, the car is built in a semi-automated fashion in a new 12,000m2 factory that was previously known on site as the ‘skeleton building’. It had sat incomplete for a decade in the wake of the failed attempt to kick-start Lotus’s reinvention under Malaysian firm Proton.
The total investment in UK production facilities by Lotus now totals £100 million, and includes a new automated paint shop at Hethel. “I really want to take us to the next level of quality,” said Windle, adding that there will be a greater “consistency of build” between Emira examples, thanks to the modernised production processes, while still retaining an authentic hand finish to the cars.
Perceived quality will also be significantly improved over recent Lotus cars, Windle said, thanks to the rigid standardisation of key aspects, including paint finish.
Lotus wants to produce up to 4800 Emiras per year, which would represent a significant increase over the 1400-1600 Elise, Exige and Evora models it was previously selling. Windle is confident that the market exists and that the Emira’s appeal is far greater and broader than any other previous Lotus, thus bringing new buyers to the brand.
The Emira is the first car to emerge from Lotus’s Vision 80 plan, which was devised under previous boss Phil Popham to guide the firm towards its 80th anniversary in 2028.
It will be the final Lotus launched powered solely by an internal combustion engine and without any form of electrification. As well as a new electric sports car codeveloped with Alpine, Lotus will produce electric SUVs, which are set to be built at a new factory in Wuhan, China.
Elise and Exige production will end in Hethel later this year, with both cars almost sold out. Evora production has already concluded.
Q&A: Russell Carr, Lotus design director
New cars from Lotus don’t come along too often. How did you approach such a significant project?
“The great thing is that there has been lots of pent- up creativity to get out, and every project we approach with a huge passion and excitement. On this car, the big design approach was to create a car with drama, glamour and the exotic nature of a supercar but positioned in the sports car category that was approachable for everyday use and moved the game on for quality.
“Being honest, we know that there’s some serious competition, so we have to push further, and Lotus has always been sportier than its competitors historically. We’re unashamedly picking up on the Evija, which brings a certain glamour instantly. The point of that car was to be a real statement for the company, so it would be foolish for us not to use it as a stepping stone.”
Why was the interior so dramatically overhauled?
“From the moment you get into the car, there are no surprises. It’s straightforward to get into, there are plenty of places to put bits like sunglasses and bottles and there’s plenty of storage as well. You can use it every day without compromise – to the airport or for business use, for example. You don’t want the car to ask anything of you; it will support you without any stress. But if you want to be [Lotus attributes director] Gavan Kershaw when driving it, it can be that too.”
Sports cars tend to stay on sale for a relatively long time. How do you design for that longevity?
“Everything has to be there for a reason. It’s important to make a car beautiful, memorable and modern. Be honest in what you do and avoid just trying to be fashionable and be a little bit reserved. You don’t want to stamp on creativity or excitement, but it’s very easy to fall into being 13 again and putting big jet engines or tailplanes on it. You have to get the balance. Sometimes you can feel the hand of [Colin] Chapman on your shoulder guiding you…”
How did you harness technology in developing the Emira?
“We do a lot of digital modelling but always have a full-size clay model. We also use virtual reality for the interior. Before you make the clay, you have a good but rough digital design model that you can look at in 2D, but you can also put VR goggles on and feel as if you’re sitting in the car before committing to clay.”
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– July 7, 2021
Lotus Emira New 2022 starts bold new era for British brand