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.

wowscore
8/10
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Fit and finish improved over previous models
  • Composed on road and track
  • Engine sounds great

What's not so good

  • Less practical than alternatives
  • Dash display is a bit dark
  • No Isofix point on the passenger seat

Find out more about the Lotus Emira

Is the Lotus Emira a good car?

The Lotus Emira is an all-new sports car from the British brand, and will be its last petrol-powered sports car. It’s like an encore at your favourite band’s concert. It’s the last hurrah before the party ends. 

From some angles it looks like a mini Ferrari, but Lotus has taken most inspiration for its Emira from the upcoming Evija hyper-EV. 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. 

On the whole, this angular design makes it arguably 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 both the Ford Mustang and Porsche Cayman have more than 400 litres, the Emira only has closer to 350 litres in total, with 151 of that sitting just behind the engine and the rest behind the seats. Which is maybe not the place for your ice cream when you’re bringing it back from the shops. 

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 Elise and 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.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

With the V6 option, the Emira can go from 0-60mph in 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 Tour and Sport chassis, you get either a softer setup for the road or a firmer one more suited for trips to track days. The Tour version is still great on track though, and choosing it means it better copes 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’s 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. 

You can’t get the Emira through carwow, but if you want to sell your current car to get your name on the waiting list, you can do that instead. Our team will help you get the best price when selling it to our trusted dealers.

How much is the Lotus Emira?

Comparable alternatives on the market are the Porsche Cayman S and the Ford Mustang, and the Emira sits at the same level as the Porsche, while being a fair bit more than the Ford. Prices for the Emira start from £59,995.

But with the 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. 

Performance and Drive Comfort

In town

While the Emira isn’t best-suited to town, it does work rather well as a daily driver. The suspension is a bit sharp over rough surfaces, as most sports cars are, and the hydraulic steering system is not as light at slower speeds as you might wish.

Visibility though is rather good, 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. 

Although Lotus hasn’t released any fuel usage information, if you can get close to 30mpg from the V6 you can be pretty happy with that. 

On a twisty road

This is where the Emira shines and feels like any Lotus should. Up to the national speed limit, the suspension gets better and smooths out the bumps. When you turn in, it provides excellent balance that’s a flashback to the Elise, Exige and Evora. 

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.

Space and practicality

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 that has 408 litres (plus the rear seats) and the Porsche Cayman 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, while the boot itself is wedged in front of the engine and it’s quite narrow. Not the best for suitcases then.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

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’s 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’s also plenty of USB ports for wired connection instead. If you don’t use your phone, the 10-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.

MPG, emissions and tax

Official MPG figures for the Emira haven’t been released yet. But with the supercharged V6 engine also being used in previous models like the Exige and Elise, you can hope to achieve around 30mpg based on their estimates. 

For the turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine from Mercedes, which is used in cars like the AMG A45, you can expect better efficiency than the V6 – but we’d still recommend the better-sounding V6 that can come with the slick manual.

Emissions-wise, the V6 is quoted at a claimed 243g/km CO2, while the 2.0-litre four-cylinder is much lower, averaging 180g/km CO2.

Safety and security

As mentioned in the driving section, 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.

Reliability and problems

There’s no real barometer yet if the old saying ‘Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious’ applies to this 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.