Lotus Emira announced as British marque’s final petrol sports car

Goodbye 'Type 131' project name, hello Emira – the latest 'E' Lotus will also be its last petrol-powered car. The end of an era draws near.

Lotus Emira teaser

Talking Points

  • Toyota V6 and a 2.0 turbo four to provide power – the latter probably AMG's M139
  • To be built at $177 million upgraded and partly automated plant in England
  • Cayman-rivalling price point and performance promised

Here comes… the Lotus Emira. That’s the name of the iconic British marque’s upcoming sports car, which will debut as the first successor to the outgoing Exige, Elise and Evora.

We can’t see it yet, though. That moment will occur on July 6, before the Emira makes its driving debut just days later at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

News of a replacement for the very-long-servicing sports cars has been getting around for some time, but it was in January that the Chinese-owned brand first confirmed production would begin this year.

Until now, the new sports car series has been known only as Type 131, and the company has previously confirmed it will be built at its Norfolk facility in England – recently benefiting from a $177 million upgrade.

The Emira – a rival to the Porsche Cayman in price and performance – will join the upcoming Evija, an electric hypercar due to go into production this year.

Speaking with the UK's Car magazine, new Lotus boss Matt Windle said the Emira will be priced "between Cayman and 911, but closer to Cayman" for the entry model, while more powerful variants will reach closer to the 911's asking price.

Importantly, with the Evija priced at $3.5 million and limited to just 130 cars, the Emira is truly the first new Lotus that matters to most buyers for more than 'drool from afar' status. 

It was Windle that announced the Emira’s name today, marking a pivotal moment for the brand – particularly since this latest model in a long line of ‘E’ cars will be the first new conventional Lotus sports car since the Evora appeared in 2009.

As expected, the Emira will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, and an upgraded version of the Evora’s Toyota-sourced supercharged V6 – producing its biggest numbers in the 316kW Evora GT430 specification, revealed back in 2018.

The source of the smaller turbo engine has not been revealed, but reports suggest we can expect to see the AMG A45S’s M139 310kW/500Nm unit in the job. That’s a powerhouse that shoots Merc’s A hatch to 100km/h in a Motor-verified 3.9 seconds.

Speaking with America’s Road & Track about the new engine, Windle would say only: “I can confirm that we won't be taking powertrain from any Geely car and Geely companies. And we are working with a well-known engine supplier that will be giving us a very efficient high output engine. It's not exclusive to us, but I can say it's a four cylinder engine.”

While Lotus won’t offer details on its 2.0-litre plan, Windle did say of the bigger engine option: “we'll be using the Toyota V6. We love the V6.” Let’s call that concrete confirmation.

The Emira itself will be built on a new aluminium architecture, and while it is promised to make a number of technological leaps over its predecessors, it will still be held to classic Lotus traditions – such as skipping electric steering assistance, like the Evija, in favour of an electrohydraulic system to ensure an authentic steering feel.

Still, that’ll be a short-lived feature. Speaking with Autocar, Windle said: “It won’t be for long; the GSR2 [European vehicle safety] regulations coming in 2027 bring driver assistance, so you will have to have EPS. But these things really do matter here.”

Wherever market demands and regulations take Lotus, fans of the brand’s tenets will at least have the Emira. For a while.

Watch for more on the upcoming new Lotus to come in the months ahead.

 

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