There’s some chatter among my colleagues about the weight of the new Lotus Emira. At 1405kg, it isn’t heavy for a sports car, nor is it heavy for a car that replaces the Evora, which was just 5kg lighter.
It is, though, heavier than the cars it also kinda replaces: the Elise and Exige, the two-seaters that have underpinned Lotus’s income for the past quarter of a century.
Lotus is, as you know, famous for loving lightness, and so the Elise and Exige were sufficiently spry that they could cope without power-assisted steering. The Emira, which uses a development of the Evora’s platform, retains hydraulic assistance. It’s lighter than the Porsche 718 Cayman.
There are, though, lighter sports cars. The upcoming Toyota GR 86 is sub-1300kg, and if that’s too cheap and lowly powered to be considered a true Lotus rival, there’s the modestly powered but ambitiously priced Alpine A110, which is absolutely in the Emira’s sights. In its lightest form, it weighs around 1100kg.
The Emira was never going to be that light, with a 3.5-litre V6 amidships. But we are now in the unusual position where there’s a car in the same market as a Lotus that weighs a lot less. The question, really, is how much that matters. Should Lotus always build the lightest cars in whichever classes it competes?
I understand the argument that it should. It comprises, after all, so much of the company’s ethos. But I’m a purist. I love Lotuses’ ride and handling balances and am happy to accept the compromises they bring.
But Lotuses have perennially been so hard to get into, cramped inside and noisy and tiring to use that they haven’t sold in enough numbers to keep the company viable. The truth is that a Lotus is the ‘right’ weight when it becomes a car people want to buy.