Lotus Emira Review: Exclusive Road + Track Test of 400bhp Baby Supercar

Lotus Emira Review: Exclusive Road + Track Test of 400bhp Baby Supercar


The brand-new Lotus Emira: the 400bhp baby supercar from Norfolk that we’ve all been waiting for. Impatiently waiting for. So much so we’ve taken the chance to strap ourselves into a 2.7-litre V6 Tour prototype to put it through its paces on Welsh roads, on track and see whether it holds its own visually against a Lamborghini Huracan and whether it’s any more practical than its predecessors. As you can imagine being the most exciting and anticipated car of 2022, there was quite the fight to see who’d get to drive it. One that didn’t have a winner. So Magazine’s Jack Rix, Rowan Horncastle, Ollie Marriage and Ollie Kew all decided to have a go.Chapters:0:00-1:25 Intro1:26-7:21 Road Review7:22-9:05 Design vs a Lamborghini9:06-14:17 Track Review14:18-18:30 Practicality Want to watch a bit of on the internet? Welcome to the most comprehensive collection of official clips you’ll find on YouTube. Whether you’re searching for a caravan challenge, Ken Block in the Hoonicorn, cars versus fighter jets, Stig power laps or the latest Chris Harris Drives, you can find all the iconic films here.Want to share your views with the team?

we’re in wales on one of the uk’s greatest driving roads behind the wheel of the car that literally everyone is talking about it’s the new lotus emira it’s also chucking it down with rain but frankly i couldn’t care less because i haven’t been this excited about testing a new car for a long long time just look at it this is what matters isn’t it job number one done first a bit of housekeeping the car we’re driving is a validation prototype hence the rather fetching vp stickers making this sort of a final sign-off drive we’ll drive the final production car next month which is why lotus has given us a list of stuff that’s not quite finished yet stuff like this is the best available chassis tune but brake feel ride comfort and steering feel will all improve road and wind noise will improve too there’s a load of 3d printed and prototype parts in the interior and tour and sport driving modes are working but track mode and turning the traction control off entirely is not trust me we try but look that’s just the engineers covering their back personally i couldn’t really care if the infotainment needs its final flash or some of these interior components aren’t quite the final production grade because we’re here to drive this car we’re here to get under its skin to get a feel for it on the road and to find out is the lotus emira as special as we all suspect a word then on why we’re so excited about this car firstly the elise and zeissian of aurora are all dead r.i.p making this the last ever petrol-powered lotus and it has all the lotus-y bits we love like a bonded aluminium chassis and hydraulic steering although at 1.4 tonnes it’s not exactly a flyweight but this is the car designed to bring lotus kicking and screaming into the 21st century with proper comfort usability and technology it doesn’t look bad either more on that in a bit more than anything though the amira feels like a moment to pause and reflect on cars like this analog combustion engine sports cars because i’m telling you they’re not going to be around for very long certainly not with a lotus badge on the bonnet because this is as i said the last ever petrol-powered lotus the company is going all in on electric over the next three or four years they’re going to give up two electric suvs a four-door electric saloon they’re even making an electric sports car co-developed with alpine so stuff like this needs to be savored all right so what do we have here we have the slightly softer touring suspension setup you can get a sport setup which is a bit firmer and more aggressive but whichever one you go for you’ve got passive dampers you can’t select the damper firmness on the move you basically tick the box when you order the car you make your bed and then you have to sleep in it and i like that we’ve also got the less aggressively bolstered comfort seats but we do have the driver’s pack which means we have a limited slip differential and the larger of the two engines it’s the familiar supercharged toyota sourced 3.5 litre v6 here with 400 horsepower and we’ve also got the six-speed manual gearbox now you can get an automatic option in this car for about 1800 quid and there is gonna be a whole second engine yes amg has donated its turbo two liter four-cylinder nut job of an engine and that’ll be the entry-level car but and i’m going to say this with some confidence i’m pretty sure this is the combo you want to go for firstly it’s a lotus so you want to manual and the gear shift quality here is really lovely it feels nice and precise it’s nice and crisp as it moves around the gate and it’s only going to get crisper in the production car and this engine well it’s lovely it’s perhaps not as flamboyant as it has been in other lotuses but you’ve got that excellent throttle response and when you dial on a few revs it really starts to howl listen to that behind you and on liftoff you get lots of lovely little burps and hiccups on the overrun it’s a powertrain with soul it’s a powertrain with potency too lotus claims nought to 60 miles an hour in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 180 miles an hour not so long ago that was proper supercar performance these days it’s merely mildly spicy prices for the v6 first edition start at around 76 grand by the way with a 60 grand entry-level model that’s the four-cylinder coming in 2023 but since when was a lotus all about numbers and quantifiable data hethel’s best have always been measured by the sensations you get through your feet and your bum and your fingertips on the steering wheel and it’s good news here i’ll start with the steering well the steering wheel specifically because it’s a bit of an odd shape the center of the wheel where you’ve got your airbag isn’t actually in the center it’s down here at the bottom bit disconcerting when you first see it but actually the reason they’ve done that is to create this nice big void at the top so you get an excellent view of the digital instrument cluster behind it so i’m going to let it pass the steering itself it’s hydraulic load to say there’s still a few iterations to go and they’re going to improve it further before the production car but honestly it feels fantastic it’s got that lovely natural organic feel and that’s precisely what you want in terms of the brakes well i’m not going to harp on about the stopping power they’re more than capable of stopping this car but it’s more about the feel i drove the mc20 a few weeks ago and they had this really weird spongy feel so you never really knew where you were with this whether you’re brushing the pedal the first two inches of the travel or really stepping on them you get that lovely modulation you get feedback through the brake pedal telling you how close you are to locking up and that’s a very lotus-y thing and then we come to the chassis now this is the touring suspension but honestly i implore you to go for it because the way this car moves down the road it’s just so supple it moves about a little bit in the corners but that’s all just more communication coming back to you as a driver and really the biggest thing with this car the biggest take-home message is just how refined and usable it is because i could happily turn this car around and drive the four and a half hours back to london absolutely no trouble kick back in comfort listening to my podcasts and you haven’t been able to say that about too many lotuses in the past so it might not be finished this car but it’s tickling me in all the right places so it delivers on the road but does it have proper supercar curb appeal for that 76 grand price let’s find out that’s a bright green lamborghini huracan the quintessential supercar for the minecraft generation the 10 penny here in north and wells which is handy because it shows us how super carry the design of the lotus mirror is see where the emira’s rivals the bmw m2 porsche cayman alpine a110 and toyota supra will very much look like sports cars lotus designers have given their sports car a bit of supercar makeup just look at it lots of clean surfaces but strong but powerful lines and sculpture check out this intake and another hidden one down here it’s all got an air of exotic about it and plenty of cues from its big older brother the avaya but more from the huracan too it’s low and wide with broad shoulders and no active arrows so it gives it that really athletic look but there’s plenty of supercar styling cues too these exhaust with perforations just like the lamborghini a fighter jet ignition just like the lamborghini plus a porthole so you can look at the engine just like the lamborghini where a toyota supra looks a bit blobby and fussy with all its slashes and faux vents the emira has functional porosity that’s holes to you and i to help ingest cold and extract hot air that’s very supercar very avaya overall the amir is just so wonderfully proportioned it’s just so dinky and nice with plenty of tricks to make you think it’s smaller it is are these big wheels and those haunches so when you get out of it you look back at it like you’re doing a lamborghini but this is 125 000 pounds more than that mirror so it kind of passes the supercar test but what’s it like on track i need a man for the job this is where it counts isn’t it super excited about this obviously but it’s a prototype and a prototype no less that’s been testing all the driver assistance systems the stuff that we don’t normally like very much the lane keep and radar crews which means obviously that the traction control is very much on which is a little bit of a shame because it means no skids and you get the feeling that with a little bit of a bung and a bit of power this would actually quite like to do a little slide but a lotus has never been about sliding has it it’s been about playing at the margins of grip it’s been about all that beautiful balance the steering feel and that’s what this still seems to be doing very nicely indeed so two questions this car needs to answer really is how does it compare to the old evora and exige and how does it compare to a porsche cayman and the biggest difference for me this is where it really stands apart from the older lotuses has nothing really to do with its track manners it’s how composed it feels how refined and how good the nvh is that’s what’s so impressive there’s no suspension noise there’s very little tire noise that comes back through and the chassis feels so rigid and that’s such an advance for lotus right tell you what let’s back it off and just talk you through the car a little bit so this one has a touring chassis and the touring chassis is important because it’s the one that matters most if you like it’s for lotus they do a sport chassis and of course it’s got different springs and dampers it’s got tougher anti-roll bars and different bushing in the suspension different tunes and you get a michelin pilot sport cup tire with it but it’s really quite track focused and the touring pack is the one that’s designed to do all the road stuff and a little bit of track use so it’s the one that’s designed for everything really this is the one the mirror that has to do it all and i’m really impressed with it look how well it manages its role look you just tuck it into a corner and it takes up a little bit of lean angle but it just feels so deft it doesn’t feel heavy and i think what they’ve done is quite clever but they’ve made it wider and the width enables them to contain all that role more progressively because that engine looks high in the back of the car i think that’s probably deceptive because the supercharger is obviously sitting on top of the v6 because it doesn’t feel like the center of gravity is high at all it feels like it’s really tucked down low and it doesn’t feel like a heavy car it doesn’t feel like exige light though you are aware of that and at the moment you can tell you haven’t got quite got the real steering finesse it will probably get in time but it does feel good though this uses a goodyear eagle f1 tyre and that feels very together actually it’s got a little bit of understeer runs softer tire pressures at the front and it’s a bit narrower just to keep that lovely steering feel right hard on the brakes down into the chicane and the brakes in this one and in fact all in all launch editions i have a two-piece system so they’re a lighter weight they’ve got an aluminium hub and then an iron disc and the entry level versions to get that cost down a little bit to under 60 grand will have a full iron one piece system these are the standard seats and i’d quite like i think i’d be looking at a sports seat actually they’re not quite firm enough they’re not quite not holding at the sides quite well enough for me it’s not super fast but it’s more than quick enough i think it’s because the supercharger obviously is so progressive all the way across the range that it’s probably quite deceptive how fast you’re accelerating for a car that lotus says well depending on the part which parts they’re talking about between 80 and 95 finished this feels really really ready and really really good so this or a cayman gts 4 liter i mean that’s a really tough one because that cayman is so so good and probably more easily recommendable than this but just in terms of all this quality and how easy it is to drive that’s a game changer for lotus and it makes this the most significant car lotus has built since the elise which means the only thing left to find out is how practical it is you see i expect a lotus to have wonderful feel some steering and handling from the gods but what i don’t expect of a lotus is it to be very usable or particularly easy to get out of and i speak from experience because i actually used to own an elise i loved it the only reason i sold it in the end was because i got bored of it breaking down so what i’m more interested to see is not to go for a play on the track but to see if lotus has started to sweat the small stuff for example in the new lotus do you have to choose between taking a passenger or your luggage right open the boots and in it goes we have just enough space left over for a rucksack right job number one done let’s get inside well test number two is off to a flyer as well because how easy was getting in very different from the old lotus now i’m exactly six feet tall and i fit very comfortably adjusting the driving position can be easier because electric seats in a lotus and plenty of room still behind me so if you’re a bit taller you’ll probably still fit also behind me there’s a big old luggage shelf there’s 200 liters back there they don’t get that in a porsche cayman but of cour porsche cayman has a boot in the nose and this doesn’t so swings and roundabouts okay let’s play a game spot the volvo switch gear because of course lotus is now bankrolled by the chinese company gili who also owns volvo so they’ve used some parts bin stuff i can spot volvo indicator stalks and mirror and window buttons here and maybe that volume knob but volvo switches are very nice so i don’t find that a problem it’s quite cohesive it doesn’t feel like a mishmash of different parts bin stuff from whoever was cheapest and these screens now they’re not volvo they seem to be bespoke ten and a quarter inches for the touchscreen here 12 inches for the display back there i’ve just connected my phone and apple car players working that all bodes very well it’s a lot easier than connecting your phone in a golf these days so are you paying attention volkswagen learn something from lotus okay what about practicality let’s get back to it down here big glove box in the doors door bins they’ve been carpeted so things don’t rattle i’ve got illuminated cup holders and there’s a rubberized mat here and charging down there i also like that we’ve got physical climate controls yes there’s a big touchscreen but lotus still has the common sense to give you knobs and switches for making it hotter and colder now i’m not going to get stuck into the actual trim quality because as you know this mirror is a prototype so a lot of these bits have actually been 3d printed that’s quite innovative isn’t it but it’s not finalized what i can tell you is that it passes the smelly test an old lotus smell of glue out of plastic and of regret and whatever flavor links the guy who built it was wearing but this well it just smells a bit more expensive and professional and finished all together the impression is of a cabin that’s been designed not only to feel like the whole fighter pilot cliche but to be cohesive and quality and well not embarrassed next to a porsche ah that is a graceful exit you know i really do hope that jack rowan and olly want to split one of these with me because i haven’t been a lotus owner for a while but i do now want to be one again you

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