mReview: Lotus Emira V6 First Edition - Lotus Root Soup For The Soul

Published by on . Updated on 3 Feb 2024
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This soul-stirring concoction is easy to enjoy, even for the driver whose driving ability is not souped up.

I am such a driver. Despite 30 years of licensed driving experience, numerous advanced driving courses and well over a thousand different cars test-driven in my lucky career as a motoring journo, my driving skill today is still only a little better than average, paiseh.

Thankfully, this driver was skilful enough to drive an F1 racecar on a racetrack and not crash, although my lap timing was probably slower than Fernando Alonso in a Renault Sport hatchback on the same track. It was 2008 and the F1 driver picked my name card out of the lucky draw bowl at a Renault F1 event on the sidelines of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, and away I went to Paul Ricard Circuit in France for the greatest drive of my life.  

Since then, there had been many great drives in my line of work. The Lotus Emira V6 would qualify as one, being a true-blue sports car, but the problem is, I barely qualify as a sporty driver. Which is why I wanted my teammate Aiden, a part-time racing driver who is more skilful than me, a full-time occupational driver, to write this review. But due to a motor insurance issue (he was just under the minimum age for coverage), here I am with my Emira story.

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It has been so long since I last drove a Lotus that my memories of the Elise, Exige and Evora are lotus-flower specks in my career rear-view mirror. But I remember them as low-slung, high-strung, raw, racy, and not easy to drive. Entering/exiting the cockpit required some gymnastics, driving the machine felt like a workout, and parking it was hard work. However, it was the closest I ever got to go-karting as a man on the run on roads and highways.

The Emira is low-slung and, based on its technical specifications, not too highly strung, at least by my tame driving standards. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1703769734555 D38 V0960 FotorEmira's supercharged 3.5-litre V6 pushes vigorously and sounds like a road rocket.

It is superpowered by a supercharged 3.5-litre V6, mounted in the rear midship position and connected to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. It has 400bhp and 420Nm to play/scare with. It does nought to 100km/h in 4.3 seconds. It hits a top speed of 290 km/h. And the engine just died at 0 km/h because I haven’t got used to the clutch take-up. 

Oh boy, what a hefty clutch pedal, compared to the featherweight one in my own car. My left leg starts developing muscles I never knew it had (and at the end of my Emira test drive when I returned to my pocket rocket, I depressed its clutch pedal with so much accidental strength that my left foot almost kicked out a hole in the footwell).  

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The metal manual gearlever is hefty, too. It doesn’t slide into its seven slots (including reverse) - it slams into them, according to my weary left hand. The gears engage with rifle-bolt precision and the rifle is a Lee-Enfield. 

There is also a little “rifle precision drill” visible through the mesh grille that flanks the gearshift linkage (pictured above), but the co-driver gets a better view of this mechanical show and the driver should keep his/her eyes on the road anyway. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1703769975822 D38 V1029 FotorThis is the most comfortable and practical two-door Lotus ever.

Keeping my eyes on the road is easier than expected in the Emira. I’m not in some supercar with superbad visibility from behind the wheel. Looking out through the front windscreen and side windows, I can see what I need to see in order to tread through traffic and occasionally take certain corners faster than usual. 

The wing mirrors show a lot of curvy bodywork and a bit of approaching traffic, but they uncover enough of the blind spots. The rear-view mirror is filled with plenty of engine top, including a throttle actuator in action, and some window glass, so the said mirror is more a reflection of my drive life than anything else.  

The Beatles’ In My Life is playing on my Spotify, connected wirelessly via Apple CarPlay which is standard in the Emira, along with a loud-enough seven-speaker audio system.

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There are other onboard amenities, which don’t turn this hard-core Lotus into a soft-touch Lexus but make it a liveable proposition in the daily grind. One Emira item, however, is almost Lexus - the fancy key fob, with “For The Drivers” inscribed on two sides, but without keyless access function, so I still have to press a button on the device to lock/unlock the non-Lexus.

The Lotus’ practical features include dual cupholders (proper ones, too, and not pointless cubbyholes for useless cups), door bins, a console box, additional storage space behind the seats, and a decent-sized boot (which gets warm, therefore no perishables please) behind the engine bay. 

The car also has parking sensors and a reverse camera, plus electrically-adjustable seats, albeit with only four-way adjustment and none of the multi-angle motorised customisation that can accommodate the fussiest occupant. 

I’m not fussy, as long as I can occupy the seat without squeezing my body and adopt my preferred driving position without stretching my limbs, which is thankfully the case for the Emira cockpit, apart from its offset pedals and slightly cramped footwell (for my size 10 feet).

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The instrument cluster is a clear 12.3-inch TFT system, while the infotainment is centred on a logical 10.25-inch touchscreen that doesn’t look like an afterthought. The dashboard also provides two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, climate control and cruise control. 

Self control is optional equipment in the Emira. I cannot stop myself from gazing at the car or driving it quickly, because this Lotus has elan and esprit, so to speak. 

It looks like a million British pounds, but costs considerably less (S$548,800 without COE), and it could fool casual observers that it is a random Ferrari, with the Maranello masquerade helped by the Magma Red paintwork. 

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Lotus states that the Emira is “carved by air” and generates more downforce than any other car in its class. It certainly looks the part, with gorgeous curves galore and dramatic vents/scoops/whatnot. The 20-inch forged wheels with staggered sizes (245/35 R20 front and 295/30 R20 rear) are suitably sporty, while the exterior LED light clusters are quite pretty. 

Prettiness is not the point of the Emira, of course - speediness is. The cockpit starts feeding my need for speed with its steering wheel, which is sized, shaped and wrapped to make even the slowest driver feel speedy enough to role-play as a talented pilot in a fantasy motorsport series of his/her choice. I choose “Singapore Grand Prix lite, arcade mode, in-car view”.  

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There is a pregnant pause between the prominent engine start/stop button being pressed and the engine firing up. It seems like a controlled detonation rather than just an ignition, complete with a shudder and a vocal idle to remind me that the six Toyota cylinders are not Corolla units pressed into Lotus service. 

The supercharged V6 pushes vigorously and sounds like a road rocket, complete with a supercharger whine. The engine is always animated, even while cruising. Flick the drive mode rocker switch from Tour (default) to Sport and the powertrain turns snappier, the exhaust pipes become noisier, and the driver goes crazier. There is also a Track drive mode, presumably for Sepang and not Simpang. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1703772452048 D38 V0984 FotorThis is probably the last petrol-powered Lotus sports car and it is also the best.

Four hundred horsepower is thrice as much as I need and twice as much as I want in Singapore where speed limits, safety concerns and personal kiasi-ness make high-performance motoring more about reading acceleration figures than it is about realising the intriguing figures in question.   

In any case, first gear can take me to pole position in a jiffy, unless there’s a pesky electric car alongside. Second gear can take me to a podium position in no time at all, even with a 911 nearby. Third gear can bring me on a flying lap, until a McLaren joins the flight. And I still have three gears to go, but ultimately, just one life/licence to give. 

What the Emira gives in return, if I’m inclined to accept without reservation, is the Lotus drive of my life. Not by forcing me to keep up, like in the old days of Lotus sportsters which took no prisoners, but by playing along with me in the heart of the action - speeding up, slowing down, steering clockwise/counterclockwise (hydraulically), cornering courageously, and holding on whenever the performance outruns my confidence.

After lapping up the Lotus root soup for the soul that is the Emira V6, I’m feeling souped up.

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Lotus Emira V6 First Edition
Price (at time of publishing): $548,800 excluding COE  VES Band: C2
Supercharged V6, 

3,456 cc
Power & Torque:
400 bhp @ 6,800 rpm 
& 420 Nm @ 2,700 rpm
6-speed manual
Driven Wheels:
8.8 km/L
0-100 km/h:
4.3 seconds
Top Speed:
290 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
52.5 litres
Dimensions (L x W x H):
4,413 mm x 1,895 mm 
x 1,226 mm
2,575 mm
Cargo Capacity:
208 litres

Read More: mReview: Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 - Playing Porsche's Greatest Hits

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