2024 Lotus Emira Review and Test Drive

The little sports car company that could end an era with inspiring performance.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira parked by the fieldsMark Takahashi


Lotus is known for making lightweight and responsive sports cars. Its latest creation, the 2024 Lotus Emira, continues the tradition and marks the end of an era. This tiny coupe is the last Lotus to have an internal-combustion engine as the company moves toward an all-electric future.

The Emira picks up where its predecessor, the Evora GT, left off. It uses a similar bonded-aluminum chassis and the same supercharged Toyota-sourced V6 engine. In many ways, you could think of the 2024 Lotus Emira as an evolution of the Evora, though there are notable differences. For example, the Emira has only two seats while the Evora has rear seats, though they were too small for most passengers.

As a former Lotus Elise owner, I jumped at the chance to try out the Emira. The only problem was that I needed it for a weekend getaway with my significant other, driving from Los Angeles to Paso Robles, California, some 220 miles each way. Cargo and comfort were my prominent concerns going into the trip, but in the end, I was impressed, if not a bit wistful, as I bid it farewell.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira parked by the fieldsMark Takahashi

Pricey per Pound but Well Worth It

Lotus sent me a European-spec Emira in eye-catching yellow paint. Initial sales are limited to this well-appointed First Edition trim with a starting price of $107,750, including $2,350 in destination fees to ship it from Hethel, England. The Emira i4 Turbocharged will be available later and comes with a Mercedes-AMG-sourced four-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, its starting price of $99,000 doesn't represent much savings compared with the supercharged V6.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira tan leather interior and dashboardMark Takahashi

A Lightweight Coupe With Tons of Style

The Lotus Emira is about the same length as a Porsche 718 Cayman but sits about 2 inches lower and is wider by 3.7 inches. The bodywork combines graceful curves and deeply carved-out air inlets, making other sports coupes seem generic by comparison. The oblique cutouts in the hood are one of the few elements that seem out of place in an otherwise cohesive design.

The interior has more of a premium look and feel than the preceding Evora, with a tiered dashboard topped with a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen. The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel further adds some modernity. A band that runs through the door panels and dashboard echoes the tan leather seat upholstery for a stylish yet understated flourish.

Compared with past Lotus vehicles, the Emira's interior is significantly nicer. The materials are much higher quality, with premium leather, brushed aluminum, and well-grained plastics. Build quality is also noticeably sturdier — creaks are less common.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira tan leather interiorMark Takahashi

A Lotus That Is Easier to Live With

As small as the Emira is, there's adequate space for taller drivers and passengers. My 5-foot-10 frame left plenty of head- and legroom in reserve while also giving me the sensation of a snug fit. Like my beloved Elise, the Emira felt custom-tailored to my dimensions, with deep side bolstering to keep me in place when cornering. The seats remained comfortable during the four-hour dash back to LA.

The small-diameter steering wheel felt great in my hands, and Lotus places the manual shifter precisely where I want. The pedals are also close together for easy heel-toe downshifts, but the dead pedal is pushed inboard a bit too much by the intruding wheel-well hump.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira cargo space with bag and V6 engineMark Takahashi

The Emira Is Great at Hauling One Thing, and It's Not Cargo

We had the Emira packed to the gills with our luggage and provisions. The narrow trunk behind the engine compartment holds a mere 5 cubic-feet, barely containing two medium-sized duffle bags and a satchel. Be warned, though, that the space gets relatively warm from the engine and underlying exhaust.

The parcel shelf behind the seats measures about 7 cu-ft and could accept a carry-on roller bag if needed, though it could interfere with a reclined seatback. It's also where I chose to place my perishable foods and a half case of wine on the return trip, as I didn't want them slow-roasted in the trunk.

The Emira didn't fare much better when stowing personal items, but it was adequate and seemed comparable to a Porsche Cayman. A small rubberized tray kept my Max-sized iPhone from moving around, though it was disappointing that a wireless charging pad was neither included nor offered. Further aft on the center console were two inconveniently small cupholders and a narrow center armrest bin, while tiny door pockets did their best to accept any overflow.

Since cargo and interior storage are limited, my advice is to pack light.

 2024 Lotus Emira infotainment system on tan leatherMark Takahashi

2024 Lotus Emira Infotainment System Has the Basics but Not Much Else

Niche carmakers tend to struggle with technology features, and Lotus is no different. A common excuse for shortcomings points to vehicles such as the Emira being a "driver's car," where infotainment is an afterthought. But the excuse is increasingly unacceptable.

I like the placement of the 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen atop the dashboard, as it's easy to reach when driving and fell within my sightline to reduce distraction. Wireless connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is always welcome, but the lack of a wireless charging pad means you'll still need a cable to keep it juiced up. My Emira test vehicle also exhibited glitches where Apple CarPlay would randomly disconnect.

Capacitive-touch steering wheel controls frustratingly complicate some essential functions, such as adjusting the volume or skipping to the next song. An unintentional tap or swipe across the flat directional pads at the wheel's spokes can inadvertently mute or stop the music and adjust the cruise control. It would be easier if these were simply buttons instead of touch-sensing tracepads. There's also a noticeable delay between when you tap the screen and when the system finally executes your request.

The infotainment system is at least attractive and intuitive, thanks to logical menus. The KEF-branded audio system holds potential for audiophiles, but the Emira's louder cabin won't let that clarity shine through. It does have enough power to drown out some of the engine and road noise, though.

The voice-activated system can accept natural speech commands, but my Euro-spec test vehicle lacked the software to function with the navigation system. I do like the pleasant, English-accented voice Lotus chose for its digital assistant, as it reminds me of the cheerful yet authoritative tenor from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The digital instrument panel is also well positioned, but the smaller steering wheel tends to block some parts of the display. Thankfully, the critical information for speed and revs is always visible and easy to read at a glance.

2024 Lotus Emira safety screen on tan leatherMark Takahashi

In the 2024 Lotus Emira the Best Safety Technology Feature Is an Alert Driver

The "driver's car" excuse carries over to the Emira's lack of standard advanced driver-assistance systems, as they tend to interfere with spirited driving. In this case, it's more appropriate, and you can upgrade with several safety features if you want them.

Our test vehicle had parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers, but that's it. Adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, a driver-attention monitor, and a traffic-sign reader are available options.

In my time with the Emira, I was pleased with the parking sensors, as estimating your distance from objects from the driver's seat is challenging. Not only do the sensors beep as you approach an obstacle, but you also get an overhead diagram of the car with warning graphics showing where and how close an object is. It kept me from any potential embarrassing scrapes with parking blocks and curbs.

As is typical for exotic sports cars, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have evaluated the Emira in crash tests and likely won't in the future.

2024 Lotus Emira V6 engineMark Takahashi

As a True Lotus, the Emira Balances Power and Weight

A supercharged 3.5-liter V6 engine powers the Emira and is mounted just behind the seats. It's similar to the preceding Evora GT's Toyota-sourced motor and produces 400 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. While those figures may not raise too many eyebrows today, the Emira's light 3,100-pound curb weight more than makes up for it.

The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but a dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters is available at an additional cost. Both send power to the rear wheels.

2024 Lotus Emira secondary data screen on tan leatherMark Takahashi

The Emira Is a Highly Confident Athlete

Tap the start button, and the engine springs to life a few seconds later. It's an unusual pause, one of the few aspects of the Emira that does not produce an instantaneous response. The clutch has an appropriate amount of effort, and the friction zone is precisely where I prefer it. It took no time to get acquainted and enamored of the setup.

Acceleration is brisk, making Lotus' estimate of 4.4 seconds to 60 mph plausible. At full throttle, the engine and exhaust don't sound as smooth or inspiring as some rivals, but as you get near the engine's redline, your adrenaline will rise.

It's an absolute joy to row through the gears with the hefty aluminum shifter, though the gates aren't as precise or notchy as I'd like. That said, I never had an issue after just a few miles of driving the car. The most rewarding part is dancing on the pedals when performing a manual heel-toe downshift. Because the Emira is a purist sport coupe, computer-controlled rev-matched downshifts are unavailable.

The brakes are immediate and will perhaps be too abrupt for some drivers in stop-and-go traffic. However, it is easy to modulate them and trail them off as you nudge the nose into curves.

The real star of the show is the Emira's handling. Rather than encourage tail-happy oversteer, the car tracks beautifully through turns with utter precision and confidence, even on rain-slicked asphalt. It's exhilarating enough to make me wish I could wring it out thoroughly on a racetrack.

The steering has a lot to do with the precision and responsiveness. Unlike almost every other vehicle, the Emira sticks with hydraulic power-steering assist rather than an electric motor. As a result, I got the kind of steering feedback that modern cars have lacked for many years. The wheel communicated the amount of available front grip via lighter or heavier steering effort, and I could even feel it when I drove over paint stripes.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira parked by the fieldsMark Takahashi

However, there's essentially no free play or dead zone in the steering wheel's on-center feel, so you'll need to be extra vigilant as a driver. The slightest input will lead the tiny coupe off course, so make sure your eyes stay on the road instead of the infotainment screen.

Despite the stiff suspension tuning, I emerged from the Emira with few complaints after a four-hour drive. There's just enough compliance in the tire sidewalls and suspension to take the edge off potholes and bumps. It's worth noting that a firmer sport suspension is available for less brittle drivers.

Like overall comfort, fuel economy is less important to most Lotus shoppers, but the Emira returns decent figures. The EPA estimates put it at 16/24/19 mpg city/highway/combined. Over my nearly 500 miles of enjoyment, I achieved an admirable 21.7 mpg without even trying.

Yellow 2024 Lotus Emira side view parked by the fieldsMark Takahashi

Power, Performance, and Personality for a Select Few

The 2024 Lotus Emira is a fitting farewell to the era of internal-combustion engines. My supercharged V6 test car had plenty of inspiring punch, and I wouldn't be surprised if Lotus launches more powerful and focused variants throughout the car's production run.

Its nearly six-figure price tag puts it in the same league as the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 and a base 911 Carrera. In my opinion, the Porsches will deliver similar thrills and a better infotainment interface, but the Emira's rarity and extroverted style allow it to grab more of the spotlight. I'm also curious to see how the new Mercedes AMG GT coupe will stack up against the Lotus.

Less expensive alternatives include the wildly entertaining Chevrolet Corvette, but its interior quality doesn't match the Lotus, and like the Porsches, it seems too common. The BMW M2 is another alternative that is easier on your wallet.

Besides a limited dealer network, there's little to dissuade a driving enthusiast like me from choosing the Emira. It's classy without being boring, exciting without being punishing, and thoroughly enjoyable in almost every condition. Improvements to comfort and interior quality now have it competing on more even ground with established sports coupes, so you owe it to yourself to seek one out.

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Mark Takahashi
There's no such thing as a perfect car, but I'm convinced that there is a perfect car for you. That's why I've spent the last two decades reviewing every type of vehicle I could get my hands on. From economy hatchbacks to high-performance sports cars and pickup trucks to family SUVs, I've driven them all. I aim to deliver the most comprehensive evaluation possible so you can see for yourself which vehicle is likely to be the best fit for your life and budget.