Here's What We Liked About the 2024 Lotus Emira

Now that they’re finally able to be sold in the United States, you should seriously consider one.

Automotive
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It’s coming. After its official launch in 2022 and subsequent difficulties getting it to pass the United States’ strict EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and CARB (California Air Resources Board) emissions regulations, the Lotus Emira has finally been cleared to be sold on our shores. Naturally, we had to experience one for ourselves.

There’s already a lot to like about the Lotus Emira. A sports-car at heart, its petrol-powered, supercharged, mid-mounted engine is literally music to petrolheads’ ears, and its design is a breath of fresh air across an automotive market too hellbent on selling SUVs, crossovers, and hulking, metallic EVs. But the successor to the Evora has a lot to live up to, particularly with its just-under-six-figures price tag of $99,990 USD.

We had a weekend with Lotus’s latest and had a few great things to say about the Emira – some aspects are expected from a two-seater sports coupé, while others are more attention-to-detail based that helped us put a finger on how great the Lotus Emira really is.

The Design

The Lotus Emira looks good. REALLY good. So good in fact that it would probably justify our interest to buy alone. And to be honest, this has kind of always been the case for Lotus cars, from the absolutely-tiny Elise and Exige to the Evora GT we test drove a few years back.

But let’s focus on this. The Emira has the flair of an Italian super car, the details of a Japanese coupé, and the presence of a German low-slung sports car. Besides the extremely loud Hethel Yellow paint job of our loaner, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the angular cuts and dives at the front, mid-section and rear. The front bumper is highly pronounced with XL-sized intakes, while its lifted chin meant we didn’t scrape on anything. Sharp divots in the hood are highly aggressive design-wise and also served a function – no fake vents here. We also loved how the headlights curved a bit outward towards the front fenders, exaggerating the width of the front to make the car seem wide.

At the rear, the details again took over, such as the vented rear bumper that allows for pressurized air to escape the rear wheel arches – a design carried over from the Evora which we also liked. A subtle mesh grille that covers the exhaust section sits alongside the rear diffuser panel for a mix of textures. The rear LED tail lights are thin and sexy, once again exaggerating its wide track by pushing the strong visuals further towards the fenders. And the use of black trim – the side skirts and the black trim within the vents, for example – means the car’s aerodynamics form a statement that’s meant more for function and performance, while also not hiding away from a beautiful, subtle detail. Lotus could have easily made these parts carbon fiber, but we feel the black looks tremendous as a package, and that’s what makes the overall design so spot on.

The Shifter

If we had to pick one specific design element of the Emira that was the cherry on top of the already-stellar design package, it has to be the exposed shifter. Besides the excellent six-speed gearbox and the perfectly round and elegant shift knob for you to row your own gears, the shift mechanism underneath is barely covered by opposing mesh grilles, exposing the movement of your shift actions. Going through the gears shows the shift rod slotting into place in its appropriate aisle and gate, while pulling the reverse lock and going into R shows an exclusive action as well. It’s all an absolute delight.

While over-designed and refined, this is a pure aesthetic and engagement play on Lotus’s part, and provides little to no function of the actual manual transmission setup. The fact that the driver – nor passenger – can’t even see this mechanism work from their seating position further cements that, and is only really visible from the perspective of how we shot these photos – eye-level as we’re kneeled over from the passenger side door. The Evora also had this design element and in our opinion should be standard fare for any sports car that prides its manual transmission configuration; we only wish others followed Lotus like this for their designs.

The Graphics

We were pleasantly surprised by the interior of the Lotus Emira, more so the infotainment and the direction of the graphics displayed. For the center console as well as the digital gauge cluster, the font and graphic designs are minimalistic and “flat,” employing more so just crisp, high-resolution pixelation than over-the-top 3D graphics or shadowed overlays. There aren’t even many colors employed in its execution – all set across a high contrast black background, lines are a shade of white surrounding a subtle mix of white, yellow, red and other basic colors.

Again, a design element that comes across more so as aesthetically pleasing than functional, the Emira’s style department scores high points for keeping things simple and elegant. In fairness, the infotainment center console could have been more responsive and there were times inputs had to be double and even triple entered, but overall we were loving the layout and look of the digital interactions.

The Performance

So far everything we’ve liked and appreciated about the Lotus Emira has been looks, but the most important aspect of any sports car is, of course, how it drives. Thankfully, the Lotus Emira didn’t disappoint.

Let’s start with the numbers. Since this was the First Edition, our Emira came with the full-fledged 3.5L supercharged V6 engine mounted in the middle, good for 400 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. Transmission is, as mentioned before, a slick-shifting six-speed manual, and all the power gets pushed to the rear wheels only. It’s not an astronomical amount of power, and it’s not underpowered. In all honesty, the power complemented the chassis quite well.

Let’s flat out skip Comfort mode, because that’s not what this car is about. In Sport mode, when in the proper gear, the Emira accelerated with a sudden jolt and kick in the back of the seat from the gearing, and surged pretty linearly throughout the supercharger’s power curve. The whine coming from the back – and the electronic valve flexing each time you blipped or stomped – reassured you that the power is there and begging to be taken advantage of. In Track mode, as cliché as this sounds, everything got amplified to 11 and the car came off as a true performer.

There’s more than just the power delivery too. The Lotus Emira employs hydraulically-assisted steering and for those who are snobby about the difference between it and electronically assisted setups, we’re here to tell you it’s true – for the Emira, at least. Steering was incredibly sharp and agile, while felt natural and connected to the car’s chassis. The car had an excellent amount of grip, but definitely let loose with the best of them around tight corners and at WOT (wide-open throttle). Never did the chassis feel too stiff, however we were highly disappointed with the Touring edition seats made for comfort – ironically, they were quite uncomfortable. Nevertheless, we got over it and took in everything else the car had to offer in terms of driving fun and engagement.

Now that we are finally able to take delivery of the Emira, would we choose it over its most direct, $90k+ USD rival: the Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0? The answer is an outstanding ‘YES,’ largely because of its design and capability, its charm, the attention to detail and the sheer presence of it. And while the Cayman may provide the reliability and engagement as well with its rare-now-a-days naturally-aspirated heart, we can’t help but gravitate towards the Emira’s look, feel, supercharger whine and driving feel as a whole package each and every time.

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