2023 Lotus Emira First Edition Malaysian review – last call for ICE + MT blends rawness w usability; RM1.2m

Our caption asks, is the Emira the most complete Lotus sports car ever? The short answer is yes, but that’s not the full story. Here’s a recap of what the Emira is, why it’s not ‘the usual Lotus’ – even when taking into account Hethel’s previous efforts at a ‘GT’ – and why it is such a different beast from a Porsche Cayman. Lots to answer, so let’s go.

Revealed in July 2021, the first deliveries of the Emira started in late-2022, and we showed you the production First Edition in detail in March, when Lotus Cars Malaysia brought in a sexy red example. Prior to that, we detailed a pre-production unit, the exact car driven by ex-F1 champion Jenson Button at Laguna Seca for press materials.

The Emira is mid-engined rear-wheel-drive sports car that replaces all of the Elise, Exige and Evora in Lotus’ line-up. It’s the final Lotus sports car to be powered by an internal combustion engine, and the last one to come with a manual gearbox. Lotus is changing along with the car world, and the Emira is the car that will drive Lotus – as we know it – into the sunset. Final hurrah, last call – this car is all of that.

The Emira is special not just because it’s the ‘last Lotus’, but because it’s made different. We’ve heard the ‘comfortable, usable, more luxurious’ trope before with the Europa S and Evora, but unlike Hethel’s previous efforts at a ‘GT’, the Emira is significantly more comfortable, usable and luxurious than its predecessors. As you’ll find out from Hafriz Shah in the video above, the Emira can be easily daily driven.

He’s not a hardcore guy and neither am I, but we can say, hand on heart, that the Emira is ‘dailiable’. Contributing to that verdict is much easier entry and exit, good ergonomics, a throughly modern and well-trimmed cockpit, the nature of the power delivery, and ride comfort that’s simply astonishing. All is explained in the video.

Can daily, if you can manual. Behind the Emira’s cabin is a 3.5 litre V6 engine with an Edelbrock 1740 supercharger. The Toyota 2GR-FE is a motor that Hethel is very familiar with, and here, it makes 405 PS (400 hp) and 420 Nm with a six-speed manual gearbox, as specified here. There’s a six-speed torque converter automatic option with an extra 10 Nm, but you won’t want that, right? Right? Insert Anakin-Padme meme.

2023 Lotus Emira First Edition Malaysian review – last call for ICE + MT blends rawness w usability; RM1.2m

Both Aisin transmissions will take the Emira to 290 km/h, but the auto is a tenth quicker in the 0-100 km/h sprint (4.2 seconds) than the DIY gearbox (4.3 seconds). The auto comes with shift paddles, and the manual comes with Lotus’ exposed gearshift mechanism, although it’s covered with mesh grilles here and is therefore nowhere as spectacular as the original idea. Eventually, there will be a 2.0L AMG turbo-four with a DCT, but it won’t come so soon.

With the Emira, Lotus promises a ‘paradigm shift in levels of practicality, comfort, functionality and technology’ and that shift is immediately apparent in the cabin and equipment list – this Lotus is kitted like a premium exec. On the outside, front and rear LED lights, automatic lights with LED daytime running lights and welcome home lighting are standard, along with titanium exhaust finishers, heated power-fold door mirrors and rear parking sensors.

The First Edition is fully loaded with four option packs, and one of it is the Lower Black Pack, which means the front bumper air blades, front splitter, side sills and rear diffuser are all in gloss black.

2023 Lotus Emira First Edition Malaysian review – last call for ICE + MT blends rawness w usability; RM1.2m

The Emira’s cockpit is still minimalist in design, but is far from spartan. Ahead of the flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel (smooth leather or Alcantara, your choice) is a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster, and to its left is a 10.25-inch central touchscreen. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s Bluetooth and USB/12V sockets for charging.

The 10-channel 340W sound system was developed with respected British audio brand KEF, and the speakers are the latter’s signature Uni-Q units.

The seats are 12-way electric adjustable, with four-way lumbar and two memory presets for the driver that are linked to the door mirrors, which are auto dimming (rear view mirror too). Look around and you’ll also find auto climate control, cruise control, keyless start (under a red hood for some Lambo-style drama) and selectable drive modes. Ambient lighting in white, too.

Buyers can choose from seven interior colours at no extra cost – Nappa leather in red, black, grey or tan; or black Alcantara with red, yellow or grey stitching. Satin chrome trim finishers and Lotus-branded sill kick plates complete the look, which is rather posh for a Lotus.

By the way, Lotus is now owned by Geely, and there are some interior parts that Proton X50 owners might be familiar with – look for the screen, AC controls and light/wiper stalks in the gallery below.

As mentioned, the First Edition comes with all option packs, and the Design Pack adds on privacy glass, sports pedals, black Alcantara headlining and colour options for the brake calipers (black, red, silver or this car’s yellow). Lotus-branded footwell mats are also included. The Convenience Pack adds front parking sensors, reverse camera, auto wipers with aero blades, auto-dimming mirrors and a rear luggage storage net. There’s First Edition badging on the outside and on the dash too, of course.

Last but definitely not least for a Lotus is the Drivers Pack, which gives customers the choice of Tour or Sport. The more comfortable Tour suspension is paired with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport tyres, while the Sport suspension is matched with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber. Our Seneca Blue tester sits on Tour suspension, which is more than capable enough for road driving, while providing ride comfort that beats most ‘normal’ European cars.

There’s more. Remember the paradigm shift claim? The Emira is a Lotus with ADAS, and the driver assist suite includes adaptive cruise control, anti-collision system, fatigue alert, road sign information, vehicle speed limiter, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist.

There isn’t much left to option, but First Edition buyers can add on the automatic gearbox (RM15k), a Black Pack (RM8k to black out the roof, cantrails, mirror caps, rear Lotus badge and exhaust finishers – as seen here) and a Scorpion vehicle tracker system for RM5,800. The Emira First Edition has a RM1,205,800 sticker price, which might shock a few, but bear in mind that this is no toy car; instead it’s a fully-loaded rival to the Porsche Cayman GT4, which starts from RM1.06 million.

2023 Lotus Emira First Edition Malaysian review – last call for ICE + MT blends rawness w usability; RM1.2m

A big chunk of the RRP is taxes, as the duty-free price is just RM478,800 (UK price of £77,795 translates to RM458k with our current weak ringgit). One way around the tax hurdle is to keep the Emira in Langkawi for a year or two (notice our tester’s KV plates?), and then bring it home for a substantially lower price than the Peninsular Malaysia price. The process is detailed here, and if you want to know more about logistics and storage in Langkawi, just ask Lotus Cars Malaysia.

Wait a minute, how about the drive? The Emira may be comfortable and usable, but it’s still a raw piece of sashimi bursting with natural flavour next to Porsche’s aburi – you hear a lot of supercharger noises from the engine behind your head, and then there’s the DIY gearbox. Also, effort is needed to squeeze out the performance from the V6 – some hot hatches feel faster, to be honest. Not the most effortless then, but ‘For The Drivers’, that’s a good thing. Full explanation in the video.

If the drive experience feels different from virtually everything on sale today, the Emira also looks like nothing else on the road. The drama – with all those scoops and vents – and proportions are of a scaled-down supercar, and this Lotus demands attention everywhere it goes. Viewed from above, the pinched waist is sexy, and the sight of those rear haunches in the wing mirrors adds to the sense of occasion. Meanwhile, the Cayman looks like a Porsche.

The Emira is a high point and a landmark, for both Lotus and those who like to drive.

GALLERY: 2023 Lotus Emira V6 First Edition

Looking to sell your car? Sell it with myTukar.