Even though the number of pure sports cars offered on the market is shrinking, there is still plenty of interesting machinery for keen performance-car fans. Once praised as the most refined of all sports-car brands, the legendary Lotus is probably experiencing the most significant turning point in its exciting history. With new owners and engineering direction, Lotus is turning to electric-vehicle (EV) technology but introducing its last petrol-powered model as a very appropriate farewell to the gasoline age. This model is called Emira, and although it has been on the market for just over a month, the demand is so overwhelming that the waiting list is more than two years long! However, the new Emira suspiciously has the same concept and virtually identical size and power as Porsche’s 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, which makes the two cars direct competitors. So, which one is better? Let’s find out.
Lotus Emira supercharged
Lotus has always been a relatively tiny boutique manufacturer, so introducing a completely new model is huge news. With a new chassis, advanced construction methods, materials and design, Emira is an impressive feat. Also, the all-aluminum chassis, fiberglass body and lightweight components make this mid-engine, two-seat coupe quite advanced. Following the company founder’s famous quote: “Simplify and add lightness”, Emira’s designers tried to keep the weight down and improve driving dynamics. The result is a curb weight of just over 1,400 kilograms (kg)—not as light as some of its predecessors but amongst the lightest cars in its class.
Lotus offers two engine choices for the Emira. The Mercedes-derived 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo will be available later this year, while the well-known 3.5-liter supercharged V6 from Toyota powers the current model. Lotus has used Toyota’s engines before, but in the Emira, this six-cylinder produces a healthy 406 horsepower (hp) and 430 Newton meters (Nm) of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via the six-speed automatic transmission—or six-speed manual for drivers looking for a more engaging experience. Regardless of the transmission choice, the new Emira can reach 60 miles per hour (mph) in just 4.3 seconds on its way to a180-mph top speed.
Even though the exterior design is impressive, spec sheet respectable and noise from the exhaust intoxicating, the most remarkable part of the Emira is the interior. If you know anything about Lotus cars, you know that their interiors were always a bit cramped, filled with bits from other vehicles and not exactly well put together. The new Emira is entirely different. With excellent ergonomics, good quality materials, a decent infotainment system and plenty of room for two passengers, it is a very pleasant place to be. Finally, this is a Lotus that is as equally great to sit in as it is to drive on the twisty roads. With a price of $77,100, stunning looks and performance to match, it is no surprise that production is sold out until 2024—and those lucky enough to get their hands on one are selling them at hefty profits.
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
On the market since 2020, the Cayman GTS 4.0 is not the most aggressive version of the 718 chassis but arguably the best if you want to balance sports-car dynamics with everyday usability. This popular model is offered in several versions and flavors and is held in high regard by sports-car fans due to its relative affordability, quality, dependability and image.
The GTS version is designed to be a focused variant with suspension improvements and better brakes. Customers can opt for the 2.5-liter engine as a base unit and a glorious 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated, flat-six motor. With 394 hp and 418 Nm torque, it has almost the same power as the Emira but with a characteristic Porsche soundtrack. If you choose the six-speed manual, you will see the exact 4.3-second 0-to-60-mph time, but for those who pay extra for Porsche’s now-legendary PDK (Porsche Doppel Kupplungs) automatic, a 3.9-seconds time is achievable. The top speed is slightly higher at 182 mph, and the curb weight is about 50 kg more than the Emira.
The Porsche excels in the interior department with its amazing build quality, top-notch materials and the latest infotainment system. Even though the interior design is not exciting and is already seen on other Porsche models, everything is well laid out and made to fit the driver. With some of the greatest seats in the segment and an ideal driving position, the Cayman GTS 4.0 is a fantastic place to be. Amazingly, the Cayman is practical and has up to 405 liters of luggage in the front and rear trunk spaces. By comparison, the Emira has only 150 liters and no front trunk. Of course, all that quality and practicality don’t come cheap, and the base price for the 2022 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is $88,150, which is a significant figure. If you want to add a few options, PDK transmission and a more luxurious interior, you will quickly go over $100,000, which is Porsche 911 territory.
Even though the Lotus Emira is a genuinely heroic attempt and one of the hottest sports cars of the season, we cannot call it the winner of this comparison. That honor goes to the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 due to its slightly better performance, more mature package, upscale interior and additional options. However, the Emira is still an immensely attractive, competent and dynamic package that is engaging to drive and exciting to own compared to the Porsche, which might even be too prevalent. At a lower price, the Emira appeals to a broader range of enthusiasts and people who look for adventure, not just sheer speed. That is why it is interesting how two, on paper, almost identical cars have different personalities. It is also why we cannot call the Emira a loser since you can never go wrong choosing between those two fantastic machines.