Lotus is rightly happy with the chassis-tuning experience that has created so many effective roadgoing sports activities vehicles over the many years. But the British firm has lengthy been agnostic relating to the query of the place it will get its engines. The listing of earlier suppliers contains Ford, Renault, GM, Rover, Honda, and Toyota. Now that listing has a brand new addition: Mercedes-AMG, which builds the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that powers the entry-level 2024 Lotus Emira.
That is the M139 engine that’s utilized in fashions together with the CLA45 and GLA45, though Lotus is getting a decrease state of tune. Within the Emira hierarchy, it sits beneath the prevailing V-6—which makes use of a supercharged 3.5-liter engine from Toyota—however the hole in efficiency (additionally in value) between the 2 variants is small. The four-cylinder makes 360 horsepower, whereas the V-6 has 400 ponies, and the smaller engine produces barely extra torque—317 lb-ft versus 310. In accordance with Lotus’s personal claims, the two.0-liter’s 4.3-second 60-mph time is only a tenth behind the V-6’s.
Complicating that comparability is the truth that the 2 engines do not share a transmission. The V-6 has a typical six-speed handbook and the choice of a six-speed torque-converter computerized. The four-cylinder is paired solely with the eight-speed dual-clutch computerized that is acquainted from transverse-mounted AMG powertrains. The mass of the brand new gearbox means the four-cylinder is barely lighter than the six, with Lotus claiming a 3187-pound curb weight for the two.0-liter automotive and 3212 kilos for the three.5. The corporate says a brand new cast-aluminum rear subframe is chargeable for 26 kilos of weight discount—or one pound lower than the distinction.
Regardless of their proximity on paper, this second Emira variant possesses a really totally different persona. The AMG engine has large muscle however feels much less subtle than the supercharged V-6. At low rpm, there may be noticeable turbo lag, and even at larger revs, it takes a few beats for enhance to construct in response to sudden accelerator inputs. The inline-four can be louder than the V-6, with an exhaust be aware that turns gravelly at larger speeds and wider throttle openings, overlaid by loads of induction noise and whistle from the turbocharger. All of this provides to the joy, if not the sense of refinement. After we first drove the V-6 Emira, we reckoned that its engine lacked character. The inline-four could nicely have an excessive amount of.
As in its Mercedes purposes, the dual-clutch gearbox shifts shortly and close to seamlessly, altering gears way more shortly than is feasible with the V-6’s handbook (we now have but to expertise the six-cylinder’s torque-converter auto). In drive, the gearbox alters its shifting technique in response to which of the Emira’s dynamic modes is chosen. However even within the softest Tour setting, the system kicks down aggressively below modest throttle will increase, presumably to assist spin up the turbo. Sport mode brings an much more aggressive algorithm and a flat-out refusal to upshift into the tallest gears even when cruising. (And with eighth gear pulling 1500 rpm at an indicated 65 mph, the tallest gear could be very tall.)
Luckily, handbook gear choice is easy and pleasurable, with pleasingly solid-feeling steel shift paddles behind the steering wheel. When the gearbox’s digital mind anticipates a shift, gearchanges are delivered nearly seamlessly—shifting up when accelerating or down when braking. However we did discover foibles. It was simple to hit the rev limiter when upshifting on the immediate of the digital dashboard’s upshift warning, as if the show have been lagging barely.
The transmission additionally typically grew confused when requested to ship a number of upshifts or downshifts shut collectively, with a pause that was typically lengthy sufficient to set off a second request and better confusion. The principle gear selector all the time defaults to a central place and requires double inputs to alter gear. In drive, pushing it ahead first engages impartial; a second push ahead is required to get into reverse. Going from reverse to drive is similar two-stage course of, which was mildly irritating.
After we lastly get to run numbers on each variants, we might be unsurprised to find that the four-cylinder is the quickest Emira, because of each its ultraquick transmission and a launch-control operate. To activate launch management in Sport or Monitor modes, left-foot brake from a standstill, ground the accelerator, and launch the brake to launch the automotive. Lotus says the four-cylinder Emira has a prime velocity of 171 mph, which is 9 mph in arrears of the V-6. Given the similarities in output, that declare could have extra to do with advertising than engineering actuality.
The remainder of the two.0-liter’s driving expertise stays much like that of the V-6, delivering the kind of dynamic purity Lotus is most well-known for. The Emira makes use of electrohydraulic steering fairly than full electrical help and employs passive fairly than adaptive dampers. Consumers of the First Version automotive will have the ability to choose from two totally different chassis tunes: the firmer Sport or the softer Tour. Our pattern automotive was a Sport using on the elective track-biased Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires rather than the usual Goodyear Eagle F1s.
On Lotus’s Hethel check monitor, the mix was sensible, delivering large grip and minimal understeer. Lotus engineers are rightly happy with the stability-control tuning that has been collectively developed with Bosch. Within the Sport mode, the system permits vital rear-end slip earlier than intervention, but nonetheless steps in earlier than a slide turns right into a spin. Not like the V-6, the four-cylinder Emira would not get a limited-slip differential, however it by no means felt wanting traction or self-discipline even at circuit speeds.
However most of our expertise befell on regular U.Ok. roads, the place we have been quickly wishing for the softer Tour chassis. The Sport setup feels very agency in the actual world, impressively sustaining order over high-speed ridges and compressions however with journey high quality changing into harsh at decrease speeds over poor surfaces. Rougher roads additionally resulted in a lot of steering kickback, the trade-off for the high-definition suggestions provided by the hydraulic help. Given the pliability that has characterised a lot of our favourite Lotus fashions through the years, the Sport chassis feels slightly too uncompromising.
A lot else is worthy of reward. The Emira’s cabin is much classier than that of any earlier Lotus sports activities automotive, with high quality supplies and a nice-looking central show along with Volvo-sourced switchgear. The audio system is highly effective and impressively crisp by sports-car requirements, and the Emira’s seats stayed snug after a number of hours behind the wheel. Baggage house is scant, with a tiny four-cubic-foot compartment behind the engine plus a modest quantity of house behind the seats. There isn’t a entrance baggage compartment, though it appears as if there ought to be house for one, as there may be within the Porsche 718 Cayman.
Point out of the Emira’s most evident rival brings us to the query of cash. In reality, selecting the four-cylinder Lotus is not going to save a lot over the V-6. Within the U.S., the absolutely loaded First Version, as pushed right here, is about to value $99,900 earlier than the as-yet-undetermined vacation spot value is added; the corresponding V-6 First Version is priced at $105,400. Each are considerably dearer than an equal Porsche 718—these being the $81,950 Cayman S and the $96,850 Cayman GTS 4.0. A base Emira 2.0-liter will observe. We do not know the way less expensive will probably be, however will definitely value greater than the $77,100 we reported again in 2021, earlier than manufacturing delays pushed again the Emira’s U.S. launch date.
We will additionally anticipate extra highly effective four-cylinder variations to observe, with Lotus insiders admitting that the AMG engine will in the end turn into the only Emira powerplant.
2024 Lotus Emira i4
Automobile Kind: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe
PRICE (C/D EST)
Base, $90,000; First Version, $102,000
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct gasoline injection
Displacement: 122 in3, 1991 cm3
Energy: 360 hp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 317 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
8-speed dual-clutch computerized
Wheelbase: 101.4 in
Size: 173.7 in
Width: 74.6 in
Top: 48.3 in
Passenger Quantity: 46 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 4 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3300 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 4.2 sec
100 mph: 10.4 sec
1/4-Mile: 12.8 sec
Prime Velocity: 171 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 21/18/27 mpg
Senior European Correspondent
Highway & Monitor’s man on the opposite aspect of the pond, Mike Duff lives in Britain however studies from throughout Europe, typically past.
He has beforehand held employees roles on UK titles together with CAR, Autocar and evo, however his personal automotive tastes have a tendency in the direction of the Germanic, proudly owning each a difficult 987-generation Porsche Cayman S and a Mercedes 190E 2.5-16.