Lotus Emira’s ‘Bespoke’ Mercedes-AMG 2.0L Is Seriously Detuned

It makes nearly 60 hp more in some of Mercedes' own applications.

Lightweight sports car manufacturer Lotus is entering a new era in its business, and its new entry-level offering, the Emira, is shaping up to be an exciting little car. We were aware of a few of the vehicle’s specs before, but now we have a good idea of what the cheapest version of the car, the roughly $80,000 base model, will be like. 

Lotus’ press release claims the car is equipped with the “world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine,” but that’s a bit of a stretch. The fact of the matter is that the Emira is equipped with the 2.0-liter M139, built by Mercedes-AMG. In the Emira, it produces 360 horsepower, which makes it decidedly not the most powerful four-cylinder engine in the world. The 416-horsepower version of this motor in cars like the “S” version of the Mercedes CLA45 AMG is. That’s not what this car has, though.

It may seem odd that Lotus has opted for a lower-output version of this engine, especially since it worked rather closely with Mercedes for this application. Lotus even goes as far as saying it’s “a bespoke version” of the power plant, citing “hardware changes to aid mid-mounted integration” and new software to back this up. It also notes that the car’s ball bearing turbocharger has been optimized for “fast spool-up and minimum lag,” although it’s unclear if this optimization has been completed specifically for this application.

The lower state of tune was likely selected because the more expensive V6 Emira produces just 400 horsepower from its 3.5-liter Toyota engine. Even with help from a supercharger, the larger engine has trouble competing with the tiny four-cylinder from AMG. That being said, the V6 will doubtlessly sound better, and it’s available with a manual transmission. So there’s still a reason to go for the V6, but the four-cylinder version of the car could end up being quicker around a track with a simple retune. 

The 2.0-liter model will be available with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which again seems to be primarily developed by Mercedes but adapted for use in the Emira with help from Lotus. The most significant change is that the Mercedes DCT was previously used only in all-wheel-drive applications with a front-engine configuration, whereas now it’s being adapted for use in a mid-engine, RWD layout.

The new Emira is coming to the United States, and orders for the four-cylinder model open on April 8. The car can currently be configured with both engines on Lotus’ website.

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