Can Britain overcome Germany in the sports car spat?
After a long month of teasing, Lotus has finally taken the covers off its all-new Emira. With perfect proportions and a breadth of options for shifting gears and making power, it's one seriously attractive sports car. US pricing has not yet been revealed, but it launches at the equivalent of a little over $83,000. That's honestly not bad these days, especially when a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS costs more, but it did get us thinking. Should you buy an Emira or should you spend a little more and get the Cayman GT4? After all, a Porsche is always sublime to drive, and the GT4 is especially brilliant. Well, it comes down to what you're after, so let's see how the two would compare.
The Cayman GT4 comes with a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six developing 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via your choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch automatic PDK with seven ratios. The sprint from 0-60 mph takes 4.2 seconds or less and the top speed is 188 mph.
In the Emira, your base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-four from AMG that develops 360 hp. What you really want is the 3.5-liter V6 from Toyota though. This produces 400 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque and can be had with a manual, an automatic, or a dual-clutch automatic. But despite more torque, the Emira takes 4.5 seconds to get to 62 mph and tops out at 180 mph. Porsche wins this one comfortably.
While the Porsche looks broadly like a regular Cayman with a big wing stuck to the back, the Emira looks unlike anything else. Sure, you can see elements of the Evija hypercar in those headlights, but this looks like a shrunken supercar rather than some track-day special. We see hints of McLaren in the side profile and the rear is a spectacular example of what can be done to enhance downforce without large appendages. Styling is obviously a personal choice, but we think the Emira looks more spectacular without being gaudy, and for that reason, the baby supercar gets our vote.
In the GT4, you get analog dials and a little 4.6-inch infotainment screen that asks for more of your money to get Apple CarPlay. You also have to pay extra if you want more than two settings for seat adjustment and there's nowhere to put your drinks - although that's not typically something the track day enthusiast would care about.
The Emira is far more comfort-focused, offering a pair of illuminated cupholders, plenty of storage spots, and 12.3-inch digital driver display along with a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. As a daily driver, the Lotus is far better, but we still find ourselves attracted to the purity of the GT4. Despite ourselves, the win goes to the Emira here.
Shopping in this segment isn't something you do on a budget, but even so, the Cayman GT4 is expensive. Its base price is $100,200, and opting for the dual-clutch 'box adds another $3,210 to that price. While we don't know what the Emira will cost in the US, its launch price in the UK is equivalent to just over $83,000. We presume this refers to the base 2.0-liter version, but even so, that's a big difference.
Adding up the scores, the Lotus Emira clearly wins on paper, and unless you're a regular attendee of track days, the GT4 is just too focused to gain broader appeal. That's exactly what attracts the enthusiast to it, but Lotus has gone in the opposite direction. The styling is good enough that you can park the Emira in Saint Tropez without any nasty looks, the comfort and tech would make the drive there enjoyable, and the performance is more than sufficient to thrill. All in all, the Emira is the better car, but the GT4 remains the enthusiast's choice.