Road Test: Lotus Emira First Edition
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Road Test: Lotus Emira First Edition

'Emira is the most usable, everyday Lotus for a long time'

What could all-electric brand Polestar and family favourite Volvo possibly share with Lotus? Jeremy Taylor explains.

The C&TH Cars Hub

Car Review: Lotus Emira First Edition

Lotus Emira First Edition

At A Glance

PRICE: £81,995

ENGINE: 3,456cc V6

POWER: 400 bhp

0-62mph: 4.2 seconds

TOP SPEED: 180mph

ECONOMY: 25mpg

STREAMING: Mad Dogs & Englishmen – Noel Coward

TOWN

They won’t thank me for saying it but car enthusiasts used to joke that Lotus stood for ‘Loads of Trouble Usually Serious’. However, times are changing for a great British brand based in the backwaters of Norfolk. Founded in 1952 by the late, great Colin Chapman, Lotus has survived near extinction on several occasions. Since 2017, the marque has been under the ownership of Chinese conglomerate Geely, the giant behind Volvo and Polestar. 

The Emira has been Lotus’ only sports car for some time but will soon be joined by the Evija electric hypercar, plus the family-friendly Eletre electric SUV. As the company’s last petrol-powered model, Emira boasts supercar looks, a stunning cabin and driver-focussed handling.

Around town, the Lotus is striking to behold. Our First Edition test car cost more than £80,000 but had the wow factor of a McLaren. A genuine two-seater, Emira could easily be mistaken for a Ferrari, with the added appeal of a British badge. And appeal it has – lots of it. The rival Porsche Cayman may be a better all-round sports coupe but owning a Lotus says you’re an automotive connoisseur.

Emira is the most usable, everyday Lotus for a long time, with a quiet cabin set up for comfort as well as speed. Sitting low in the cockpit, a digital dashboard is complemented by a ten-inch infotainment monitor that’s both clear and functional. I could even hear my music above the engine roar! Getting in and out is easier than any previous Lotus, with decent head and leg room. Rear boot space for shopping is modest, partly because the mid-engined Emira doesn’t have any room under the front bonnet.

RATING: 4/5 handbags

COUNTRY

The new Emira is based on its old Evora model but the similarities end there. Thanks to Geely’s deep pockets, a huge amount of investment has been poured into making this a practical and functional sports car.

Armed with a six-speed manual gearbox – yes, you have to press a clutch pedal! – the Emira is thrilling to drive. While it turns heads in town, a Lotus’s natural environment remains a sweeping country road with plenty of twists and turns.

That’s where the driving experience comes alive. A 3.5-litre Toyota engine is tuned to perfection and, thanks to a lightweight aluminium chassis, the Emira flies along in either Tour or Sport mode. The Track setting does what it says on the tin and pulls out all the stops.

A full-on sprint from a standing start is ridiculous fun. When the supercharger kicks in, the Lotus really gets into its stride. To add to the drama, a menacing soundtrack from the exhaust pipes filters through to the cabin.

The gearbox isn’t the best I’ve driven and has to be mastered but this is a driver’s car – if you want soft and forgiving this probably isn’t the right vehicle for you. Precision steering and superb brakes are more important in the Emira.

The Emira isn’t without faults but it makes me happy. If that’s not enough, nowadays, Lotus offer a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, so I can tell anyone who reminds me what Lotus might stand for to buy a ubiquitous Porsche Cayman instead.

RATING: 4/5 wellies

Discover the Lotus Emira First Edition at lotuscars.com