I’ve driven the new Lotus Emira – it’s a hardcore sports car you can use every day and it’s saving BRITAIN

 

THERE’S only one type of person who wouldn’t fall in love with the Lotus Emira.

Those Twitter-dwelling keyboard warriors who think they know more about cars than everyone else.

I’ve seen a few comments along the lines of ‘It’s too heavy to be a Lotus’.

It’s true.

The Emira is almost double the weight of a first-gen Elise from 25 years ago.

Ten years ago I wouldn’t be delivering good news about Lotus. Not even five years ago for that matter. It was in the toilet.

They even switched off the fountains to save a few quid. Fast forward to today and things look very different over in Norfolk.

More than £2billion has been pumped into new models and facilities since 2017 (thank you, Geely), the workforce has doubled to 1,500 and, finally, we have the first proper harvest.

A shrink-wrapped supercar for everyone. Not only is Emira priced to rival cars like the Porsche Cayman, it feels every bit as plush as the Germans.

But that was little more than a two-seat go-kart with numberplates.

Emira is the first Lotus packed with the tech, comfort and practicality required for everyday use.

That means digital screens, Apple CarPlay, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, heated seats, easy access in and out, room for a set of golf clubs and, er, cup holders.

You had nowhere to put your coffee in an Elise.

There was a dangling USB cable for a smartphone in the glovebox of an Evora.

But you couldn’t close the glovebox because the wire was in the way.

And there was nowhere to put your phone.

Emira makes life easy with seamless, integrated systems and all the creature comforts you’d expect in a car today. In a word, the interior is brilliant.

But here’s what really annoys me.

Those people having a pop at Emira weren’t buying Lotuses anyway.
Clearly not.

Because Emira has sold more in a year than the old cars – Elise, Evora, Exige and 3-Eleven – did added together in SIX YEARS.

Go on the configurator today and you’ll be waiting 65 weeks for one.

That’s what is going to keep the lights on at Hethel in Norfolk and protect 1,500 British jobs.

Not the people who sneer in the background and keep their hands in their pockets.

Now let’s concentrate on the car itself.

Everything else about it is pure Lotus. It is exhilarating.

Aluminium build, 400 horses, manual, rear-drive. And it flies.

The gearstick is positioned nice and high, a hand’s width from the steering wheel. Just as Colin Chapman would have wanted.

Grip is huge. Body roll minimal. The steering makes it change direction almost by the power of thought alone.

You can go round significant corners at considerable speeds in this car. Yet it’ll happily roll through town at 20mph.

And it looks sensational. Exotic, even. Like a shrink-wrapped supercar.

It felt like I was driving Santa’s sleigh because it brought joy to absolutely everyone.

It got photographed more times than Andy Carroll on his stag do.

We tried the all-singing First Edition at £76k.

I should perhaps also explain it’s a left-hooker on British plates because it’s a pre-production prototype.

The 3.5-litre supercharged V6 is lifted straight from the Evora.

It’s bulletproof and sounds ace. But sadly the days are numbered for this engine.

From September, you’ll be able to order a 360hp 2-litre turbo lifted straight from the Mercedes-AMG A45 S.

Also bonkers fast. Also a First Edition, but a little cheaper at £72k. And a little lighter too. Auto only.

By the end of the year, a regular Emira with the four-cylinder Merc engine and fewer toys will cost £59,995. That’s punching with the Porsche Cayman S.

Whichever engine you choose, Emira will be an instant classic because this is the last petrol Lotus.

Every new model after it will be pure electric, starting with the Eletre SUV early next year.

Eletre will be built in Wuhan, China, alongside a Porsche Taycan rival from 2024 and a smaller Porsche Macan-sized SUV in 2025.

The first battery-powered sports car will be produced at Hethel from 2026.

  • EMIRA will be featured on Top Gear, 8pm, BBC1 on Sunday night. Freddie clearly liked it because a little birdie told me he ordered one on the spot. And he’s not a short bloke.

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