Receiving its world premiere at Hethel, Norfolk, on the evening of Tuesday 6 July, the design of the Lotus Emira is beautiful, timeless, memorable and modern. Above all, it looks like a Lotus, with optimised proportions and an athletic shrink-wrapped body which visually describes Lotus’ legendary agile driving characteristics.

  • Q&As with lead exterior designer Daniel Durrant and lead interior design Jon Statham
  • Each discusses their inspiration and the challenges in creating this thrilling new Lotus sports car

Led by Russell Carr, Design Director, Lotus, the lead exterior and interior designers of the Emira are Daniel Durrant and Jon Statham. Combined, they have close to 40 years of experience in the Hethel design studio and have worked on countless other projects. Those have been both for Lotus and for clients as part of the consultancy services offered by Lotus Engineering.

The Emira is the first Lotus sports car to carry the new design language showcased on the award-winning Evija hypercar. It’s a contemporary look with sculpted surfaces and technical detailing, delivering exotic supercar appeal in the sports car segment. A new and more premium approach for Lotus in terms of forms and materials, it is also a leap forward in interior refinement and technology.

Below, Daniel and Jon explain their work on the all-new Lotus Emira.

Q&A with Daniel Durrant

Age: 40

At Lotus: Senior Designer, worked at Lotus for 12 years

On Emira: Overseeing design and development of the exterior

Lotus CV highlights:

–           (2014) – Lotus Exige LF1 Special Edition

–           (2015) – Lotus Evora 400 exterior programme

–           (2017) – Lotus Exige 430 Cup

How did it feel when you were selected for the role on the Emira?

I was thrilled to have my theme selected for the Emira. I have worked on many Lotus programmes in the studio, so to take the lead exterior design role was an amazing opportunity and a huge responsibility. I am a Lotus fan and our products are very special.

When did you start work on the Emira?

My first sketches were done back in 2018.

Where did your inspiration come from?

It came from all over. The Evija was a strong reference point, and Lotus has a rich technical and visual library to draw from. I like the shapes seen in military fighter jets. There’s often a softness to their overall surface forms but with taught creases. Shapes found in nature can also be a great inspiration – an attacking shark nose or the muscular haunches seen on a pouncing cheetah, for example.

Can you describe the exterior of the car in five words?

Sculptural, athletic, agile, elegant, alive.

What’s your favourite part of the car?

I think that the sculpture around the body side air intake is my favourite. The surfaces are incredibly three dimensional and designed to channel the airflow into the bodyside duct. There aren’t many cars in the world with this amount of form and drama in them, technical and beautiful. We always intended the Emira’s design language to be that of a baby supercar.

What has been the biggest challenge on the Emira?

It’s been finding the right balance of sportiness and sophistication from a visual perspective. It needed to look light, focused and agile without ever looking too aggressive or intimidating. It also needed to look premium without being too conservative. From a technical perspective, the sensor positions and ADAS radar module were the trickiest parts to incorporate. The front end is extremely low to the ground – just as a Lotus should be – but this creates challenges when it comes to positioning them. These components are very small but devilishly awkward.

Can you describe what the design process has been like?

As a team we followed the regular Lotus design process, going from theme sketches, scale models and eventually to a full-size clay model. We tried many design ideas through the process before the final theme was chosen, and the technical and aerodynamic package evolved along the way as we honed the design. We always wanted close visual and philosophical harmony with the Evija. It was important that both products looked related to each other, but also performed technically in their own way given they’re very different cars. Overall it’s been rewarding and, as with anything that’s worth doing, challenging at times. Getting to this point, where the car is going into production, is very satisfying.

Why do you think the Emira is important for Lotus?

It shows that we can appeal to a broader range of customers while retaining the spirit of what makes it a true sports car.

What’s next for you in Lotus design?

It’s on to the next project which, of course, I can’t tell you anything about. It’s going to be exciting though.

Q&A with Jon Statham

Age: 54

At Lotus: Interior Design Manager, worked at Lotus for 24 years

On Emira: Overseeing design and development of the interior

Lotus CV highlights:

–           2000 – Lotus Exige Mk I

–           2002 – Lotus Esprit facelift (lead exterior designer)

–           2006 – Lotus 2-Eleven (lead exterior and interior designer)

–           2016 – Lotus Exige 430 and Evora 430

How did it feel when you were selected for the role on the Emira?

I consider it a privilege to work on such an important car for Lotus. To be involved in the full development programme, from initial sketches to production, has been challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

Why do you think the Emira is such an important car for Lotus?

I see the Emira as a big step forward on many levels. We’ve had a massive push on quality, technology, functionality, useability, desirability – it’s all there. It has a contemporary interior with good proportions. It isn’t too hardcore and will have broad appeal whilst still being ‘For The Drivers’.

Where did your inspiration come from?

The Lotus Evija has obviously been a massive inspiration for the whole team, but there are also elements of the S1 Esprit in there.

Can you describe what the design process has been like?

I feel really proud of my small team and how effective we have been. Jennifer Andriamamonjy’s interior theme was the one chosen and manages to blend sportiness with modernity and quality. Harvey Rabenjamina has worked really hard on steering wheel and seat design. A shout-out to our digital modellers and studio engineer Josh Router also deserves a mention. Together we have worked quickly and efficiently, all pulling in the same direction.

What has been the biggest challenge on this project?

We started work on the car in November 2018 and from the outset we knew that interior packaging would be the tricky element. We wanted the Emira to have outstanding ergonomics to make it as engaging as possible, and to do that while finding space for all the components was the challenge.

What is your favourite part of the car?

Above all else, I’m very proud of the cohesive nature of the interior design. It just exudes quality. I also think the instrumentation graphics are spot-on and perfectly suit the character of the car. Lotus has created its first ever digital design team to develop the HMI and we’ve worked closely with them. I’m really happy with the results.

What is next for you?

I have learned a lot from this programme working in what is effectively a new team. It will be good to take this experience into the next programme.

Want Lotus news updates in your inbox? (It’s Free)
Leave your comment below...