The Emira is the first new petrol Lotus model in more than a decade but will be the last powered by fossil fuels. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Emira is the first new petrol Lotus model in more than a decade but will be the last powered by fossil fuels. Picture: SUPPLIED

Lotus calls the new Emira the most accomplished car it’s ever made.

The two-seat, mid-engined sports coupe made its world debut on Tuesday night and is a last hurrah for internal combustion engines at Lotus before the British sports car firm fully embraces electrification.

Pronounced "Eh-meer-ah", the word features in numerous ancient languages and often translates as "commander" or "leader". Building on the legacy of the Elise, Exige and Evora, the junior sports car features the brand’s hallmarks of a striking design, and best-in-class ride and handling, says Lotus, which is owned by China’s Geely.

With a mass of 1,405kg in its lightest form, the Emira has a wider track than any recent Lotus road car and a very low centre of gravity for a more kart-like driving experience.

Engine choices will be a 3.5 V6 or a 2.0 four-cylinder. Picture: SUPPLIED
Engine choices will be a 3.5 V6 or a 2.0 four-cylinder. Picture: SUPPLIED

Built with a new lightweight bonded aluminium chassis, the Emira inherits its sculpted styling cues from the Lotus Evija electric supercar. It’s a head-turner that captures the visual drama of an exotic supercar, with a wide footprint and a cabin that squats low between muscular haunches. Exit vents integrated into the bonnet guide airflow over the car to optimise aerodynamics, and are derived from the Evija.

Powering the rear-wheel drive Emira will be a choice of two petrol engines, with the first cars to arrive as limited-production "First Edition" models using the supercharged Toyota 3.5l V6 from the Exige and Evora. In the Emira it will produce 270kW, and transmission duty is served by a manual gearbox with semi-exposed gear linkage as on the Elise and Exige.

From next year the new Lotus will be moved along by a 2.0l four-cylinder Mercedes-AMG petrol turbo engine, the same unit that powers the Mercedes-AMG A45 hot hatch, and tuned to produce 300kW in the Emira. It will be paired with AMG’s dual-clutch auto transmission with paddleshifts and selectable driving modes.

Lotus says the Emira is capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in under 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 290km/h, but didn’t mention whether both versions will achieve these figures.

The cabin is a huge step change for Lotus in terms of quality and an increase in storage space. Picture: SUPPLIED
The cabin is a huge step change for Lotus in terms of quality and an increase in storage space. Picture: SUPPLIED

Drivers can switch between two suspension settings: Tour for everyday use, and Sports which offers a stiffer suspension setup.

The cabin is a major step up for Lotus, with a contemporary design and high-quality materials, while still sticking to the sports brief with a bottom-flattened steering wheel and bucket seats. The digital dashboard comprises a 10.25-inch central touchscreen and a TFT instrument panel.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) available on the Emira include adaptive cruise control, anticollision system, fatigue alert, road sign information, vehicle speed limiter, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist.

Lotus describes the Emira as an everyday sports car that’s high on comfort and functionality, with space for a set of golf clubs in the boot and, a first for Lotus, cupholders in the cabin.

About 4,800 Emiras a year will be built at the firm’s Hethel factory in the UK.

Visitors to this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK will be able to see the Emira in the metal for the first time, and the first customer cars will be delivered around the world from the third quarter of 2022 at a price of £60,000 (R1.18m).

It will also be coming to SA, and Joburg-based importer Daytona is taking orders.

Lotus and its Chinese owner Geely want to transform what is the tiny company, which makes about 1,500 sports cars a year, into a far bigger carmaker producing tens of thousands of electric sedans and SUVs.

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