Lotus builds a modern car, and we’ve driven it: the Lotus Emira review

A person drives a Lotus Emira on a mountain road

Enlarge / The Emira is the first new mainstream sports car made by Lotus since it was bought by Geely in 2017. (credit: Drew Phillips for Lotus Cars)

The auto industry’s gung-ho shift to electrification is particularly nail-biting for a company as historically behind the times—”analog,” if I’m being polite—as Lotus. So before the company completely upends its lineage and launches—gasp!—an electric SUV, Lotus has one final offering to satiate the pearl-clutching purists of internal combustion: the Emira. Though ironically, the best attributes about this car have nothing to do with its engine.

Effectively picking up where the Lotus Evora GT left off, the Emira rights many of its predecessor’s wrongs. The Emira’s cockpit comfortably cocoons two passengers, as Lotus finally realized what the rest of the world knew all along, that the Evora’s rear seats were completely useless. The Emira’s cabin is also vastly better appointed, with soft leather and suede-trimmed surfaces. Sure, the coupe’s switchgear remains hilariously outdated, but at least the Emira uses the solid-feeling buttons and toggles from a 10-year-old Volvo (thanks, daddy Geely) as opposed to the Evora, which had crap-tastic plastic bits from a 20-year-old Ford.

The Emira also does away with the Evora’s I-got-this-on-sale-at-Best-Buy Alpine-branded multimedia head unit and instead relies on a 10.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment duties. This software is by no means cutting-edge; it brings Lotus into the 2010s at best. But at least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect wirelessly, which is pretty much all you need.

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