Sleeping Beauty

by Petrol Mum
Lotus Emira First Edition Seneca

The Lotus Emira marks the end of the petrol-powered engine era for Lotus Cars before the company embarks on its all-electric future with models like the Eletre and Emeya and what a send-off it is.

The First Edition of the Emira is available with the familiar super-charged V6 engine paired either with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed auto ($4,000 option). Or you can have the Emira with a bespoke version of Mercedes-AMG’s four-cylinder turbocharged engine with a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission only. I recently got to enjoy the howl of the supercharged V6 again in this Seneca Blue Emira, which is one of the six colours available on the First Edition vehicles.

There was universal agreement among my family and friends that the Emira was a beauty to behold, with numerous comments that it looks like a Ferrari, which is quite the complement. The side profile is a classic sports car silhouette and the vent openings in the front, side and rear all add to the overall visual appeal while also providing optimised aerodynamics. One of my favourite views was from the side mirrors back down the sculptured doors to the side vent for the engine.

The Australian V6 First Edition Emiras all come standard with the Lower Black Pack – front bumper air blades, front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser finished in gloss black and the Design Pack that adds privacy glass, sports pedals, a black Alcantara headliner, and the choice of black, red, yellow or silver painted brake callipers, with Lotus-branded footwell mats also included.

Australian deliveries also get the Drivers Pack, which gives the choice of Tour or Sport suspension with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport tyres (fitted to the Emira I drove), or Sport suspension with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Along with this, the Convenience Pack that adds front parking sensors, rear reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers with aero blades, auto-dimming mirrors and a rear luggage storage net, is also included. The Emira does have adaptive cruise control, but as the buttons on the steering wheel are non-descript, so I could not work out how to use it.

In Greek Mythology the fruit of the Lotus plant was said to induce a dreamy forgetfulness and an unwillingness to leave, rather than the prick from a spinning wheel. While the princess in this fairy tale, the Emira, is not awakened by true love’s kiss, but rather a flick of the red cover over the start button and a firm press.

The fairy dust sprinkled on you by the Lotus-honed 3.5-litre supercharged V6 engine, mid-mounted behind the seats, makes it hard to believe that this same Toyota 2GR-FE engine that once powered the humble Toyota Camry. But with the addition of an Edelbrock 1740 supercharger, something akin to the work of Maleficent herself, creates an engine that howls like a banshee. You can even watch the magic happening in the rear-view mirror as the supercharger bypass valve moves at the top of the engine when you depress the narrow accelerator pedal.

There are three drive modes available, Tour, Sport and Track and these adjust the powertrain, exhaust, and stability of the Emira. Changing the modes also alters the design displayed on the digital driver’s dash, with the Track mode proving the most focused display. The dash also gives the driver a very cool welcome animation on entry to the Emira to make you smile even before you have started driving.

The engine’s performance matches its aural exploits with 298kW of power and 430Nm of torque in this auto version and 420Nm for the manual Emira. The six-speed auto is also fractionally quicker from 0-100km/h at a claimed 4.2 seconds compared to 4.3 seconds for the manual and both have a top speed of 290km/h. The official combined fuel consumption for the Emira is 11.3L/100km and I calculated for my weekend of bliss that I used 18.3L/100km.

To select drive in the auto ‘box you pull the gear lever twice towards you and to engage ‘manual’ gearbox mode you push the lever either to the left or the right. You can then chase the 6,800rpm redline to truly appreciate the vocal range of the V6 engine and feel its power behind you. As you approach the redline the dash flashes near the Lotus symbol at the centre of the dash to tell you to shift up to the next gear using the paddle shifters. I did feel that the gear shifts in the Emira didn’t occur as quickly as some other sports cars that I have driven.

On the road I found that the Emira’s steering was precise, but it tracked in the wheel ruts of the road quite a bit and at times I felt that it was skittish as well. I liked that I could hear the front suspension working at low speeds as it was a reminder to me of the racing history that Lotus has. But after not long enjoying all that the Emira had to offer on one of my favourite driving roads the engine went into limp home mode on me. The fault cleared after I turned the Emira off and on and when it returned to Simply Sports Cars, they discovered the cause of the issue encountered was an Oxygen sensor reading out of range, which was rectified.

The interior of the Emira felt like a significant step up from the Evoras that I had driven some years ago. The Nappa leather smelled nice and in the First Edition there are seven interior colour choices, all available at no extra cost. They are red, black, grey and tan, as well as black Alcantara with either red, yellow or grey stitching. The heated seats feature power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height front and rear and four-way lumbar support with two memory presets linked to the door mirrors available on the driver’s seat only. The satin chrome trim finishers, stitched dash, and Lotus-branded sill kick plates complete the premium look. The only feature I didn’t like was the gloss black around the gear lever.

Most functions are accessed through a 10.25-inch centrally mounted touch-screen including the mode selection for the single zone climate control with the person on the screen in the shape of a race car driver. Satellite navigation delivered via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a wireless charge pad at the front of the centre console with a very grippy base to hold your phone in tight. On the ledge below the centre console there is a USB-A port for smartphone connectivity and in the narrow cubby between the two seats there is another USB-A port and one USB-C port.

The Emira V6 First Edition is fitted with a 10-channel/340W premium audio system has been developed in partnership with respected British brand KEF and I really liked the look of the metal speaker covers. Media sources include DAB digital radio, AM/FM radio, and Bluetooth, but it did take me quite a while though to work out how to actually change the radio station via the infotainment system.

For a small sportscar the Emira has an adequate amount of storage space available in the cabin. Behind the seats is a parcel shelf that is about 25cms wide, so you can place your handbag there if the passenger seat is occupied and there are hooks on the back of the seats for hanging your coat as well. There are two cup holders in the centre console with one deeper than the other and the cubby in the doors is large enough for sunglasses or your wallet.

I could not find the exterior boot release button on the Emira, so I assume that it does not have one? So the boot needs to be opened via the pretty key fob or the button in the cabin. The boot lid is power assisted and there is no moulding under the lid to grab with your fingers so when you close it down you have to pull/press on the exterior surface and this may result in scratching of the paint. In addition to getting a lovely view of the Emira’s engine the boot space is also large enough for a set of golf clubs according to Lotus. The maximum allowable weight in the boot space is 50kg and you will find the tyre repair kit neatly packages and stored to one side of the boot. There is no storage under the front bonnet as it is filled with the radiator.

Lotus Emira First Edition Seneca Simply Sports Cars

The conclusion of the petrol-powered era for Lotus is headed for a fairy tale ending with customer demand for the Emira V6 First Edition being so strong that the entire Australian allocation of 120 cars sold out. So, it’s kind of arbitrary to tell you that the price for this Seneca Blue Emira is $213,990 excluding dealer delivery and on-road costs. You can configure your Emira online or visit your nearest Lotus Centre for more information.

The exterior designThe First Edition is already sold out
The supercharged V6 engineOxygen sensor fault hampered my driving fun
The speaker cover designGearbox not quick enough

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine. 

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