Not that there’s much to give away the junior Emira’s Swabian heart, at least superficially. In the V6 car, you can see the top of the supercharger through the glass, while this I4 has plastic cladding, like its chief rivals, the Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman S. Elsewhere, even the deliciously big-bore tailpipes are the same on both strains of Emira. But then if I had something so pretty on my hands, I wouldn’t tinker either. In the flesh, this valedictory combustion-engine Lotus has the look of a Ferrari 488-Lancia Stratos cross. It’s stunning. The scalloped sides are particularly breathtaking – pun fully intended.
Once you’re inside, I4 hallmarks show. There are two quite beautiful aluminium paddles mounted to the steering wheel. They control the Mercedes eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and while their action is a tad short and unsatisfying, they are in perceived-quality terms emblematic of the cabin as a whole. Airy but intimate, the cockpit has a maturity beyond that of the dark, plasticky A110 and a warmth that the Cayman has always struggled to muster. It’s only let down by the seats, which are a bit unsupportive and short, with jutting headrests. Otherwise, it’s lovely. Slick tech, too.
Foot on the conspicuously centred brake pedal, drag the artful, leather-on-metal gear selector into drive, hit the start button and your first taste of Lotus-featuring-AMG is… docile and understated. Pull off the mark and the motor burbles and thrums gently, and you really have to sharpen your ears to appreciate the waspish tension that hints at its outrageous, more-than-200bhp-per-litre output potential. Admittedly, here the M139 isn’t wound up as bombastically as in the Mercedes-AMG A45 S. In the super-hatch it makes 416bhp at 6750rpm, while in the Emira it’s pegged to 360bhp, delivered at 6600rpm. Even better-endowed versions will surely follow, but for now the I4 Emira is deferential to the 400bhp V6 one that made its bow last year.
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This notice was published: 2023-08-07 23:01:45
Coach is a weekly British motoring magazine published by Haymarket Media Group. First published in 1895, it bills itself as “the world’s oldest automotive magazine.”