Lotus is a legendary name in the world of sports cars, with a history of producing lightweight, agile, and exhilarating machines that deliver pure driving pleasure. The British brand is also known for being innovative and unconventional, often using engines from other manufacturers and tuning them to suit its own vision. The latest example of this is the 2024 Lotus Emira i4, a stunning sports car that features a surprising engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder sourced from Mercedes-AMG.
The Emira i4 is one of the two variants of the Emira, the new mid-engine sports car that replaces the Elise, Exige, and Evora in Lotus's lineup. The other variant is the Emira V6, which uses a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 from Toyota that has been used in previous Lotus models. The Emira i4, however, marks the first time that Lotus has collaborated with Mercedes-AMG, the high-performance division of the German luxury automaker.
The Emira i4 uses the same engine that powers the AMG CLA 45 and GLA 45 models but with a lower state of tune. The engine produces 360 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque in the Emira i4, compared to 382 hp and 354 lb-ft in the AMG models. The engine is paired exclusively with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. The Emira i4 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 180 mph, according to Lotus.
The Lotus Emira i4 may have less power than the Emira V6, which has 400 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, but it also has some advantages. The Emira i4 is slightly lighter than the Emira V6, with a curb weight of 3,187 pounds versus 3,212 pounds. The Lotus Emira i4 also has more torque than the Emira V6, which means it has better low-end response and mid-range punch. The Emira i4 also has a more distinctive sound than the Emira V6, with a gravelly exhaust note and a turbo whistle that add to the excitement.
The Lotus Emira i4 is not just about the engine, though. It also benefits from Lotus's expertise in chassis tuning and steering feel. The Lotus Emira i4 uses a bonded-aluminum structure that is inherited from the Evora GT but with a new cast-aluminum rear subframe that saves weight and improves rigidity. The suspension consists of double wishbones at all four corners, with adaptive dampers available as an option. The steering is hydraulically assisted rather than electrically assisted, which gives it more feedback and precision.
The Emira i4 also has a stunning design that is inspired by the Evija, Lotus's upcoming electric hypercar. The Emira i4 has a sleek and sculpted bodywork that features sharp creases, large air intakes, and LED headlights and taillights. The interior is equally impressive, with a modern and upscale cabin that features leather or synthetic suede upholstery, digital gauges, a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and active safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.
The Emira i4 is expected to go on sale in late 2023 as a 2024 model-year vehicle. The base price for the Emira i4 is estimated to be around $90,000, which makes it more expensive than some of its competitors, such as the Porsche 718 Cayman and the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. However, the Emira i4 offers a unique combination of performance, handling, style, and exclusivity that may justify its premium.
The Emira i4 is also a significant model for Lotus because it will be the last new sports car from the brand that will use an internal combustion engine. Lotus is preparing for an all-electric future, as shown by the Lotus Evija hypercar that will have over 2,000 hp and cost over $2 million. The Emira i4 is, therefore, a fitting farewell to Lotus's gasoline-powered legacy and a testament to its ability to create thrilling sports cars with surprising engines.