Lotus Emira Review & Prices
With great styling and superb performance, the Lotus Emira is a high-end sports car. Shame it’s not quite as practical as alternatives.
Find out more about the Lotus Emira
The Lotus Emira is an all-new sports car from the British brand, and will be its final petrol-powered performance car. It’s like an encore at your favourite band’s concert. It’s the last hurrah before the party ends – and it's a fantastic way to say goodbye, as it comes highly commended in the Pleasure of Driving category of the 2024 Carwow Car of the Year Awards.
From some angles it looks like a mini Ferrari, but Lotus has taken more inspiration for the Emira from the upcoming electric Evija hypercar. That means lots of angled inlets at the front to send air to the brakes, slim air inlets down the side to cool the engine and additional ones around the back. There's no fakery here, everything serves a purpose.
On the whole, this angular design makes it one of the best-looking small sports car currently on sale. Sitting on 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, you can even change the colour of the four-piston brake calipers to your liking.
Inside is where Lotus has done a serious amount of upgrading. Gone are the days of cheap and uninspiring cabins from the Elise and Exige, and in come premium leather surfaces, large displays that can admittedly be a bit dark at times, and lots of sporty touches – such as a red cover for the ignition button.
Black leather and fabric is the standard fit, but the First Edition version comes with the option of Nappa leather and Alcantara trim if you fancy it. The overall finish is excellent on all versions though, and you even get a small storage area behind the seats, as well as decent cubby holes elsewhere.
Large storage space is not the Emira’s forte though. While the Porsche Cayman has more than 400 litres and the BMW M2 a little less than that, the Emira has closer to 350 litres in total, with 151 of that sitting just behind the engine and the rest in the cabin behind the seats.
Speaking of the engine, you get two options – sourced from different manufacturers. You can go for a Mercedes-supplied turbocharged 2.0-litre with 360hp paired to a seven-speed automatic, or for the full Lotus experience, you can choose the 3.5-litre supercharged V6 developing 400hp used in the Exige. That can be paired to the auto, or a purist’s six-speed manual.
The Emira has the Lotus magic of its old cars, and is perfectly usable day-to-day as any good sports car should be
With the V6 option, the Emira can go from 0-60mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 180mph – right in the sweet spot of the sports car market.
By choosing between the Touring and Sport chassis, you get either a softer setup for the road or a firmer one more suited for trips to track days. The Touring version is still great on track though, and choosing it means it copes better with bumps on UK roads.
Going through town, the Emira is soft enough to be a daily driver and visibility is pretty decent too, while when you make it to a back road, it feels absolutely brilliant. The steering is superbly weighted thanks to its hydraulic setup and the manual shift is short for easier shifts. It feels like any Lotus should.
When you open the throttle more, the sound of the supercharged V6 is wonderful and gives the Emira the Lotus character you would want.
Although there are some minor complaints here and there, the Lotus Emira is a fine swansong for the petrol engine at the Norfolk brand before it goes all-electric.
Comparable alternatives on the market are the Porsche Cayman S, Alpine A110 and the Ford Mustang. The Emira sits significantly above the price of any of those, starting from more than £80,000, which means it's also more expensive than a BMW M2.
But with that big starting price, you get a decent amount of kit including cruise control, electric seats, two digital displays and rear parking sensors – all of which are very handy for sports car drivers.
The Lotus Emira is absolutely fantastic on a twisty road, but you will feel the odd jolt through the cabin at lower speeds
While sports cars in general aren't best-suited to town driving, the Emira does work rather well as a daily driver. The suspension is a bit sharp over rough surfaces, as are most alternatives, and the hydraulic steering system is not as light at slower speeds as you might wish.
Visibility is rather good, though, as you have additional windows over your shoulder and in your far side blind spot. The rear window is relatively good considering it’s a sports car.
On the motorway
With basic cruise control as standard, you can easily let the car do its thing when you’re on a longer journey. There’s adaptive cruise control available too with the advanced driver assistance systems, while lane departure warning, lane change assist and anti-collision assist are also available to help out too.
Because the interior isn't too cramped, visibility is decent and you don't feel bumps as much at higher speeds, the Emira is more comfortable for long motorway drives than you might expect of a small sports car.
On a twisty road
This is where the Emira shines and feels like any Lotus should. As your speed rises the suspension seems to settle down and feel more in tune with the road, so you don't feel the thuds over ridges like you do at lower speeds.
By not going for a more modern electronic steering setup, the hydraulic system offers way more feel of the road underneath your front tyres and means you have much more confidence in where the grip is.
The Lotus hallmark was always agility and that carries on in the Emira. There’s no body roll of note and it stays so composed whatever the road has planned for you – just like the Emira does on track. It’s fabulous.
While there's pretty good passenger space up front, the Emira doesn't have any rear seats and luggage capacity is poor
Although the Emira's cabin is pretty small, there's a decent amount of storage space inside. You have door bins that can take a water bottle, two cup holders and you can slot your phone beneath the dashboard.
There's a slim but fairly deep cubby hole beneath centre arm rest and the glovebox isn't too small either. There are two USB-A slots in the cabin and one USB-C too.
Space is generally pretty good too, making it easy to find a good driving position. This is helped by excellent steering wheel adjustability, which is something that can't be said of most sports cars.
Space in the back seats
There are no back seats, because the Lotus Emira is a two-seater. If you want a sports car that can fit people in the back, take a look at the BMW M2 or Ford Mustang.
While the 359 litres of overall space – 208 litres behind the seats and 151 litres in the boot – isn’t that bad, it isn’t as good as alternatives like the Ford Mustang, which has 408 litres, or the Porsche Cayman, which has 422 litres split between the front and rear.
Still, there’s a decent shelf behind the two seats where you can load soft bags and some shopping. The boot itself isn't a particularly useful shape, though; it's wedged in front of the engine and is therefore quite narrow. Not the best for suitcases then.
Interior design and quality is a massive improvement over Lotus cars of old, but the displays aren't as clear as they could be
Where old Lotus models were a bit cheap and uninspiring considering how well they drove, the Emira is a vast improvement. With Porsche being the benchmark for sports car interiors, Lotus has done a fine job of bringing itself a lot closer.
There are soft-touch materials on all surfaces, including the option of an Alcantara or leather steering wheel. The gear lever in the manual version is also very high quality, and for all the mechanical fans and petrolheads, you can see the gear linkage through mesh underneath.
In terms of screens and displays, you get two high resolution ones – a driver’s display and a touchscreen infotainment system. Both are a bit dark and the graphics aren’t always the clearest if the light catches them in a certain way, but the graphics themselves look good.
You get wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay, but there are also plenty of USB ports for wired connections instead. If you don’t use your phone, the 10.0-inch screen is pretty responsive and the look of it is good too.
To customise your Emira, you get the choice of the black pack for exterior detailing, Alcantara or leather for your steering wheel with contrast stitching, and a vehicle tracker or a wireless control unit for gates and garage doors. There’s also a series of striking colours to choose from, including a yellow or dark green if you wanted to stay true to the Lotus brand.
The two engine choices for the Lotus Emira are designed to offer different characters depending how you plan to use your car.
Starting with the less expensive turbocharged four-cylinder unit, sourced from Mercedes-AMG, you're looking at 360hp and 430Nm of torque. It's a touch more road-focused and should offer better fuel economy than the larger V6, though its official figures have not yet been confirmed.
Step up to the supercharged V6, and it's the same characterful unit that's known and loved from previous Lotus models, the Exige and Evora. It makes 400hp and 430 Nm (in the automatic; the manual makes 420Nm. If you can resist the urge to enjoy that power, official fuel economy figures suggest 25mpg is possible.
Both have very similar acceleration figures, with the four-cylinder completing the 0-60mph sprint in 4.3 seconds and the V6 doing the same in 4.2 seconds.
Unsurprisingly, because of its higher performance figures, the V6 also has the higher CO2 emissions at 258g/km, compared with 208g/km in the four-cylinder. This puts the V6 in the top first-year road tax band, while the four-cylinder still sits in one of the highest bands but represents a big saving over the V6.
You can get the Emira with a series of advanced driver assists, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, anti-collision assist, fatigue warning and rear cross traffic alert. With most of these fitted as standard, you should feel pretty secure in your Emira.
You can also choose to fit an optional vehicle tracker if you're worried about it being stolen. As part of the options list, the Scorpion S5 system will send information to an app on your phone, so you’re always aware where your car is.
There’s no real barometer yet if the old saying ‘Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious’ applies to this particular Lotus. But with the Emira being built in the time when the British firm is owned by Geely, which also owns Volvo and Polestar, there’s certainly hope that this Lotus will be little-to-no trouble at all.
All Emiras come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, but you can also pay extra for an extended warranty of 12 or 24 months. A service plan is also available for a fee.