Lotus Emira: Reviving Performance Luxury in South Africa

  • Lotus Emira Redefines Tradition: The Emira marries Lotus's thrilling legacy with modern comfort, appealing to South African enthusiasts.
  • Usability Meets Performance: Lotus improves entry, cabin, and tech, providing a refined driving experience without sacrificing excitement.
  • Tough Competition Ahead: The Emira competes with BMW, Toyota, and Porsche, challenging the luxury sports car segment in South Africa.

When it comes to the world of sports cars, one name that has consistently stood out is Lotus. The British marque has long been synonymous with lightweight, agile, and exhilarating performance machines that put the thrill of driving front and center. However, for all their driving prowess, Lotus cars were often associated with some less-than-ideal attributes, including a challenging entry, minimalist interiors, and a certain level of impracticality.

But now, Lotus is turning a new leaf with the introduction of the Lotus Emira, a car that aims to preserve the brand’s tradition of thrilling driving experiences while addressing many of the shortcomings that have held it back in the past.

The Lotus Emira in a Nutshell

Before we dive into what makes the Lotus Emira significant, let’s take a closer look at this impressive sports car:

ModelEngineTransmissionPower Output0-100 km/hTop SpeedFuel Consumption
Lotus Emira V63.5-liter supercharged V6Six-speed manual298 kW (400 hp)4.3 seconds290 km/h11.0 L/100km (combined)

One of the Emira’s most notable features is its mid-engine layout, which places the powerplant behind the passenger compartment but ahead of the rear axle. This design choice is crucial for achieving balanced weight distribution, which translates into exceptional handling and traction.

Furthermore, the Emira is exclusively rear-wheel drive, which is a favorite among driving enthusiasts for its dynamic characteristics and the strong connection it establishes between the driver and the road.

Bridging the Gap Between Tradition and Modernity

Lotus has always been revered for its raw and unadulterated driving experience, but it was often marred by a few inconveniences. Those who have experienced Lotus cars from previous eras will remember the challenge of climbing over wide and tall side sills and settling into deep-set passenger seats. While this might have seemed adventurous on a date night, it wasn’t always practical.

The Emira aims to change that. It preserves the seat-of-your-pants thrills and engagement that Lotus is known for while introducing significant improvements in usability. The interior has undergone a transformation, shedding the minimalist approach for a more refined and thoughtful design. This means you no longer have to compromise on comfort and convenience to enjoy the Lotus driving experience.

Gone are the days of struggling to enter or exit the car gracefully. The Emira offers a more accessible entry, sparing your flexibility. It also incorporates modern switchgear and infotainment technologies, ensuring that your driving experience is not just thrilling but also comfortable and connected. And if you’re worried about practicality, fear not. The Emira boasts 150 liters of luggage capacity, providing more room for your everyday needs.

However, not everything is perfect. Some critics have pointed out the Lamborghini-like starter button as a gimmicky element in the otherwise refined cabin. But it’s a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

Exquisite Exterior Design

The Lotus Emira isn’t just about what’s under the hood or inside the cabin; it’s a visual treat from every angle. The exterior design is sleek and intricate, drawing admiration from onlookers wherever it goes.

One cannot help but appreciate the sharp intakes on the front end, resembling a wild animal’s nostrils, not only for their unique aesthetics but also for their functional role in cooling the engine. The wheels fill their arches perfectly, creating a stance that exudes confidence and power. Additionally, a significant portion of the car’s profile is dedicated to channeling air into molded intakes behind the doors, showcasing the car’s commitment to aerodynamic performance.

A Balanced Driving Experience

So, how does the Lotus Emira drive? To put it simply, it’s a revelation. The driving position is impeccable, allowing you to sit comfortably behind the wheel while enjoying excellent outward visibility thanks to contoured side windows and a low-slung windscreen reminiscent of modern McLarens. The side mirrors are perfectly sized and designed, further enhancing your view of the road.

The switchgear, sourced from Volvo, feels substantial and premium, a departure from the minimalistic controls of previous Lotus models. The crisp touchscreen infotainment system impresses with its functionality and ease of use.

But what truly sets the Emira apart is its driving dynamics. It offers a choice between Touring and Sport suspension setups, and based on our experience, the more forgiving Touring setup is recommended for everyday driving in the South African market. Unless, of course, you have access to a smooth racetrack like the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.

While the Emira is more refined and comfortable than its predecessors, it still manages to deliver an engaging driving experience. The front-end grip is formidable, and the hydraulic power steering provides a level of weight and feedback that driving purists will appreciate. The car feels planted and well-balanced, allowing even less experienced drivers to gain confidence behind the wheel.

Powered by a supercharged V6 engine with 298 kW and 420 Nm of torque, this lightweight Lotus offers impressive performance, especially at higher revs. And here’s a neat touch: you can witness the release valve working atop the transverse-mounted engine through the rear-view mirror every time you press the throttle.

The Verdict

While the Lotus Emira offers a tempting alternative with its supercharged V6 engine, it faces some tough competition in the South African market. Rivals include the BMW M2, Toyota Supra, and Porsche 718 Cayman, which all offer their unique blend of performance and driving experience. Additionally, with exchange rates not favoring Lotus, the Emira’s price point puts it in the ring with the likes of the BMW M4 Competition and Porsche 911, which are formidable opponents.

However, for those who value a mix of tradition and modernity in a sports car, the Lotus Emira shines brightly. It successfully blends Lotus’s exhilarating past with newfound poise and refinement. It represents a stepping stone for the Lotus brand as it looks to an all-electric future, expanding its product portfolio while retaining its core values of driving excellence.

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