otus has unveiled its new junior supercar, the Emira, the last petrol-powered model the Norfolk-based company will ever build, before it fully embraces electrification.
At the company’s Hethel HQ, which has received about £100 million in development investment in the past few years, former F1 champion Jenson Button helped unveil the new car to media and existing Lotus customers all over the world via video link.
Jenson, himself a Lotus customer, said “It’s being called a junior supercar but it would give a lot of supercars a run for their money… and it’s more comfortable than most of them. I’m a big fan.”
The Emira, which costs from about £60,000, is available with either a 2.0-litre i4 engine from technical partner AMG, or a 3.5-litre supercharged V6 familiar from the company’s Exige and Evora models. First deliveries are expected next Spring.
Lotus says that the new model was inspired by its electric Evija hypercar, which will go into production at the end of this year.
Designed as a hard-charging performance sports car, the new Emira has a suite of driver aids and a plush cabin to make less spirited journeys more relaxed.
“This is a long way from, say, the early Elise. That had a seat, a steering wheel and a gear lever. And that was about it,” said Button.
Managing director Matt Windle said, “The Emira is a game-changer for Lotus. It stands as a beacon of everything we have achieved to date in the transformation of the business. It is a highly significant milestone on our path to becoming a truly global performance car brand.”
The new model, which has a power output of 300 to 400bhp and a top speed of 180mph, shares some of the dramatic looks of Lotus’s Evija electric hypercar, which goes into production this year.
It’s a year of big changes for Lotus. As well as the announcement of a range of new models, it is also the last year existing favourites such as the Elise, Exige and Evora will be produced.
Lotus and Chinese owner Geely want to see the Hethel-based car-maker – currently making around 1,500 sports cars a year – become an electric giant that will produce tens of thousands of premium saloons and SUVs too.
The electric Evija will have a production run of just 130 cars (it’s the 130th model to be produced by Lotus’s in its 73-year history) and will sell for around two million pounds each.
Lotus design director Russell Car said, “The Emira captures the visual drama of an exotic supercar, with great proportions, wide footprint and a cabin that sits low down between muscular haunches,”
As part of its transformation, Lotus is also developing an electric sports car platform in partnership with Renault, for the French company’s Alpine brand.
Winding up proceedings, MD Matt Windle said “The Emira is the most accomplished car ever to roll out of the Hethel factory gates. It’s the perfect package.”