Lotus has been building small, nimble, sports cars with added lightness since 1948, and so far all of them have been powered by internal combustion piston engines. Today’s launch of Lotus’ latest car, the Emira, won’t change this pattern, but it will mark the end of it: the Emira, known internally by its traditional type number, 131, is said to be Lotus’ final, non-EV car. So it’s a big deal.
Here’s the livestream, so you can watch along. I’ll update the post as it goes on and we learn more about the car:
The “unboxing” live event that Lotus held today looked quite stereotypically British: gray skies, wet pavement, an umbrella, and some bright shoelaces, which we’ll just pretend is a well-known British thing:
The intro before the unveiling gives some nice looks into Lotus’ newly Geely-money-renovated factory at Hethel (where they’ve been building cars since 1966) and you can see their non-production line approach, instead using robotic mobile platforms to move individual cars from station to station:
This likely wouldn’t scale up well to really mass-production, but that’s never been what Lotus is about.
Now they’re talking to “superfans.” Oh, the stalling!
Now we have F1 driver Jenson Button about to drive the car, and our first look at the car: the roof! It has one! Also, it has cupholders!
Now it’s hailing. Doesn’t Geely have any weather control satellites they can use to take care of this mess?
We’re not getting some shots of the dashboard displays of the Emira, which are pleasingly non-sketumorphic:
They’re also talking about storage and cargo room, which they note is 208 cubic liters (I think) behind the seats—does that mean no separate trunk?
Also, I just saw a manual shifter, so hot damn.
We’re getting some nice historical Lotus cars so we can all really feel that design lineage:
Man, I do love an Elan.
And here’s a wedgie Esprit! These are two extremes of Lotus’ design heritage, if you ask me.
Here’s one of the last Elises…
…and it’s also the last year of the Exige!
And, hell, it’s the last year of the Evora, too! One of the only mid-engined cars with a back seat! Sad to see that go.
Here it is! The Emira!
Okay, finally, jeez. Let’s look at this thing:
The design director is saying they wanted a car with the visual impact of a supercar, but accessible and usable every day, very fine goals. From the designer:
“Beautiful soft sculpture with technical details… sharp attacking nose section, which looks like it cleaves through the air.”
Thee aero has been very carefully considered, as their chief aerodynamicist tells us.
He also explains those two boomerang-shaped cutouts on the hood are helping to extract hot air from the cooling system.
They did just point out the “classic glove box” so they may be reaching a bit when it comes to storage options. They have mentioned cupholders many times, too.
Also, note the manual shifter there.
It’s quite a lovely car, really, sleek and determined, without falling into a caricature of machine agression. Lotus is very clear that this is their last combustion-engined car, and they’re proudly displaying that dead-dinosaur-burning lump of gears and levers right there under glass.
The rain has let up, which is a lucky break, and we can get a good look at the car here. It feels wide and planted, and those boomerang hood vents feel like the defining visual detail of the car.
Ah, here’s a press photo of Jenson Button with the car. The doors open like, well, doors. Button’s about to be shown driving it now:
I’m sure he’s going to hate it, right? That’s how these things are. I KID. Dude’s thrilled, because of course he is. I’m sure the car is fantastic, but nobody thought he was going to say “it’s okay, I guess,” right?
He’s talking it up, hitting all the hallmark Lotus points: light, nimble, mentioning it doesn’t need 800 horsepower, all things I like to hear. Button is also noting you could do a long trip in it, if you wanted.
Hopefully we’ll get some specs and price on it soon.
It seems like they’re calling it a “junior supercar,” which seems a reasonable way to think about it. Looks way more fun than most supercars to me, even.
They’re wrapping up now!
From what we know so far, the Emira should come with either an AMG inline-four making 360 hp or the 400 hp Toyota V6 that’s used in the Evora. Those seem like absolutely usable horsepower ratings to me, power that can actually be used and not just shouted about like some dipshit.
Here’s the full specs that we have:
- Two petrol engines available, including new-to-Lotus 2.0-litre turbocharged ‘i4’ from technical partner AMG
- Much-loved and characterful 3.5-litre supercharged V6 from Exige and Evora to feature as ‘First Edition’ range-topper
- Manual, automatic and Dual Clutch Transmission to maximise global appeal
- Power output from 360 to 400 hp at launch
- 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in less than 4.5 seconds
- Top speed of up to 180mph (290km/h)
- Target weight of 1,405kg in its lightest form
- Prices will start from under £60,000 (under €72,000)
That price should be about $85,000 in America, pretty decent for the kind of car this is. No word on towing packages yet, though.
We’ve also heard the four-cylinder option is DCT-type automatic transmission only, so if you want a manual, spec the Toyota V6.