Lotus is justifiably proud of the expertise in chassis tuning that has resulted in so many excellent road-going sports cars over the years. However, the British corporation has long been ambivalent about the topic of where it sources its engines. Ford, Renault, GM, Rover, Honda, and Toyota are in the list of former suppliers. Mercedes-AMG, which produces the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that drives the base 2024 Lotus Emira, has just been added to that list.


Although Lotus is receiving a less-tuned version of the M139 engine, other vehicles using it include the CLA45 and GLA45. It follows the current V-6, which has a supercharged 3.5-liter Toyota engine, in the Emira hierarchy, but there isn’t much of a performance (or price) difference between the two models. The V-6 has 400 horsepower compared to the four-cylinder’s 360 horsepower, and the smaller engine has somewhat greater torque (317 lb-ft vs. 310), making it. According to Lotus, the 2.0-liter’s 4.3-second time to 60 mph is only a tenth slower than the V-6’s.

The lack of a shared gearbox between the two engines complicates that comparison. Both a six-speed torque-converter automatic and a six-speed manual are available for the V-6. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that is recognised from AMG powertrains positioned transversely is the only gearbox available for the four-cylinder. The four-cylinder weighs just a little bit less than the six because of the weight of the new gearbox; according to Lotus, the 2.0-liter car has a curb weight of 3187 pounds and the 3.5-liter one is 3212 pounds. The manufacturer claims that the 26 pounds of weight loss, or one pound less than the difference, is due to a new cast-aluminum rear subframe.

This second Emira variation has a totally different personality despite being similar on paper. Despite having enormous power, the AMG engine feels less sophisticated than the supercharged V-6. Even at higher RPM, boost takes a few beats to build in reaction to rapid accelerator inputs, and there is considerable turbo lag at low rpm. The inline-four is also noisier than the V-6 due to its gravelly exhaust note at higher speeds and broader throttle openings, which is masked by the turbocharger’s whistle and a lot of induction noise. All of this heightens the thrill, if not the air of sophistication. We thought the V-6 Emira’s engine lacked character when we initially drove it. It’s possible that the inline-four has too much.

We have not yet experienced the torque-converter automatic in the six-cylinder six-cylinder’s torque-converter auto, but the dual-clutch gearbox shifts fast and nearly flawlessly, changing gears considerably more quickly than is feasible with the V-6 manual. Depending on which of the Emira’s sporty modes is selected, the gearbox adjusts its shifting technique when the vehicle is in drive. However, even at the softest Tour setting, the system forcefully kicks down in response to slight throttle increases, likely to assist in spinning up the turbo. Even when cruising, the algorithm in Sport mode is flat-out unwilling to upshift into the highest ratios. The tallest gear is also very tall, pulling 1500 rpm at an indicated 65 mph.

Thankfully, changing gears manually is easy and fun because to the satisfyingly substantial-feeling metal shift paddles located behind the steering wheel. Gearchanges are provided nearly effortlessly when the artificial brain of the gearbox expects a shift, moving up while accelerating or down when slowing down. But we did spot flaws. When shifting up at the indication of the digital dashboard’s upshift warning, it was simple to hit the rev limitation because it appeared as though the display was a little slow.

When asked to deliver several upshifts or downshifts quickly, the gearbox frequently became confused. The interval between requests was frequently long enough to cause more confusion. When changing gear, the main gear selector always defaults to the middle position and takes two inputs. When in drive, moving it forward the first time enters neutral; moving it forward the second time engages reverse. The same two-step technique is used to transition from reverse to drive, which was a little annoying.

We wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the four-cylinder Emira is the fastest when we finally get to run the figures on both versions because of both its incredibly quick gearbox and a launch-control feature. When the automobile is in Sport or Track mode, depress the accelerator pedal all the way, then release the brake to launch the vehicle. The four-cylinder Emira’s top speed, according to Lotus, is 171 mph, which is 9 mph slower than the V-6. That assertion might have more to do with marketing than engineering reality, given the similarity in output.

The rest of the driving experience in the 2.0-liter is comparable to that of the V-6, giving the kind of dynamic purity for which Lotus is best known. The Emira features passive dampers rather than adaptive ones and electrohydraulic steering as opposed to complete electrical assistance. First Edition car buyers will have a choice between the stiffer Sport and the softer Tour chassis tuning. The optional track-oriented Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres were mounted on our test vehicle, a Sport, in place of the regular Goodyear Eagle F1s.

The combination was fantastic on Lotus’ Hethel test track, providing tremendous grip and little understeer. The stability-control tuning that Lotus engineers have jointly developed with Bosch is something they should be proud of. In the Sport mode, the system intervenes before a significant amount of rear-end slip has occurred but still steps in before a slide develops into a spin. The four-cylinder Emira has a limited-slip differential, unlike the V-6, yet it never felt lacking in traction or control, even at circuit speeds.

However, the most of our time was on typical British roads, where we quickly wished for the Tour’s softer chassis. The Sport setup has a fairly solid feel and maintains order well across high-speed ridges and compressions, but the ride quality deteriorates over poor ground at lower speeds.