Lotus has long been, and still is, defiantly British, despite the fact that it’s not majority owned by Geely of China as part of its portfolio of halo brands, another one of which is Volvo. It’s still a distinguished nameplate devoted to the outer fringes of high performance. As a demonstration, Lotus is launching its newest sporting piece, the Emira, a very serious automobile that thematically borrows from the foregoing Exige and Evora models. The Emira is the purest definition of a modern sporting car, riding on a mid-engine chassis fabricated from bonded aluminum, initially being offered with carryover, if that’s the right term, 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 power sourced via Toyota and borrowed from the Exige and Evora. That’s how the Emira will be powered when it first arrives here next spring. It’s what’s coming next that’s especially noteworthy.
The Emira, which will stand as the entry-level Lotus, will get a special stablemate next summer that will further broaden the brand’s DNA. Packing the first fully new engine employed by Lotus in more than a decade, the Emira will be optioned next year with a turbocharged, inline four-cylinder engine that will be designed and assembled by AMG, the in-house performance division of Mercedes-Benz, marking the first formal collaboration between AMG and Lotus. The AMG-designed engine and transmission will be transversely mounted. This, therefore, will be a unique British-German-Chinese collaboration, with distinct Japanese flavoring, given that Toyota has been a Lotus technical partner since the 1980s. and considerably more appealing than when Lotus, as a General Motors holding, was reduced to peddling badged versions of Isuzu sedans, although Lotus did credibly massage the top end of the Corvette ZR-1’s engine during the same time period as partial atonement.