"It's exceptional and I'm a big fan."
The all-new 2022 Lotus Emira sports car just made its long-awaited debut, and the list of journalists and car enthusiasts who want to have a go in it is already a mile long. Well, anyone who wanted to be the first behind the wheel must now take a back seat to Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button. The 41-year-old former F1 star became the first in the world (outside of Lotus) to drive the new Emira at the company's Hethel test track facility. This wasn't just a low-speed parade lap in a show car; Lotus let the racecar driver rip around the track for 30 laps.
A video showing Button's drive appeared during the Emira's live stream reveal at the 52-minute mark. "You always expect a Lotus to have good mechanical grip through the low-speed corners, but there was plenty of downforce in the high-speed corners too. That means the feeling of great balance is the same no matter how you're driving it. It's exceptional, and I'm a big fan," he commented.
These are significant words coming from a man who won a Formula 1 world title in 2009. If anyone can spot a well-handling car when he drives one, it's Button. "The overall position of the gearstick in relation to the wheel, the pedals, everything was where it should be and that gives you great confidence from the start. I love the infotainment system too, which has everything you need and is really simple so you can get back to the important part, which is the driving," he said of the interior.
Practicality and technology integration is often a sore point for Lotus, but the Emira is different. "The Lotus purists will love it, and the thing that people new to Lotus will love is the premium quality of the interior," Button described. "When you're in there, you're immersed in the seat and cockpit, and there's a lot of lower back support, so it will be comfortable for long journeys. That's going to surprise people."
"I'm still in shock at the price. Starting at under £60,000 (approximately $83,092), it's fantastic and means so many people are going to have the opportunity to experience it first-hand," Button exclaimed. "It's being called a junior supercar but it would give a lot of supercars a run for their money… and it's more comfortable than most of them!"
Button is a major Lotus fan and even plans to purchase the company's upcoming Evija all-electric hypercar. The former F1 driver is also involved with the relaunch of the British Radford coachbuilding brand, which will release a limited-edition model based on Lotus technology.