Sports Car Shootout: Lotus Emira Vs. Porsche Cayman GT4

Dragoon

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After a long month of teasing, Lotus has finally taken the covers off its all-new Emira. With perfect proportions and a breadth of options for shifting gears and making power, it's one seriously attractive sports car. US pricing has not yet been revealed, but it launches at the equivalent of a little over $83,000. That's honestly not bad these days, especially when a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS costs more, but it did get us thinking. Should you buy an Emira or should you spend a little more and get the Cayman GT4? After all, a Porsche is always sublime to drive, and the GT4 is especially brilliant. Well, it comes down to what you're after, so let's see how the two would compare.

869699.jpg


Performance​

The Cayman GT4 comes with a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six developing 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via your choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or a dual-clutch automatic PDK with seven ratios. The sprint from 0-60 mph takes 4.2 seconds or less and the top speed is 188 mph.

In the Emira, your base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-four from AMG that develops 360 hp. What you really want is the 3.5-liter V6 from Toyota though. This produces 400 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque and can be had with a manual, an automatic, or a dual-clutch automatic. But despite more torque, the Emira takes 4.5 seconds to get to 62 mph and tops out at 180 mph. Porsche wins this one comfortably.

Front View

Rear View

2020-2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Front View

Design​

While the Porsche looks broadly like a regular Cayman with a big wing stuck to the back, the Emira looks unlike anything else. Sure, you can see elements of the Evija hypercar in those headlights, but this looks like a shrunken supercar rather than some track-day special. We see hints of McLaren in the side profile and the rear is a spectacular example of what can be done to enhance downforce without large appendages. Styling is obviously a personal choice, but we think the Emira looks more spectacular without being gaudy, and for that reason, the baby supercar gets our vote.

Lateral View

2020-2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Side View

Rear Angle View


Technology and Comfort​

In the GT4, you get analog dials and a little 4.6-inch infotainment screen that asks for more of your money to get Apple CarPlay. You also have to pay extra if you want more than two settings for seat adjustment and there's nowhere to put your drinks - although that's not typically something the track day enthusiast would care about.

The Emira is far more comfort-focused, offering a pair of illuminated cupholders, plenty of storage spots, and 12.3-inch digital driver display along with a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included. As a daily driver, the Lotus is far better, but we still find ourselves attracted to the purity of the GT4. Despite ourselves, the win goes to the Emira here.

Front Seats

Driver Area

2020-2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Front Seats

Price and Verdict​

Shopping in this segment isn't something you do on a budget, but even so, the Cayman GT4 is expensive. Its base price is $100,200, and opting for the dual-clutch 'box adds another $3,210 to that price. While we don't know what the Emira will cost in the US, its launch price in the UK is equivalent to just over $83,000. We presume this refers to the base 2.0-liter version, but even so, that's a big difference.

Adding up the scores, the Lotus Emira clearly wins on paper, and unless you're a regular attendee of track days, the GT4 is just too focused to gain broader appeal. That's exactly what attracts the enthusiast to it, but Lotus has gone in the opposite direction. The styling is good enough that you can park the Emira in Saint Tropez without any nasty looks, the comfort and tech would make the drive there enjoyable, and the performance is more than sufficient to thrill. All in all, the Emira is the better car, but the GT4 remains the enthusiast's choice.

Source
 

Rob340R

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Nice write up.

have driven my friends GT4 on track and the PDK is great.

Aside from that, Ho Hum. Way more expensive in Oz than Emira and the gearing would suit a moonshot. the gearing was a real problem in the PDK and worse in manual ( another friend has a Gayman GTS manual and struggles with the dumb gearing )

got to go for the Emira.
 

Cwolf

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Nice write up.

have driven my friends GT4 on track and the PDK is great.

Aside from that, Ho Hum. Way more expensive in Oz than Emira and the gearing would suit a moonshot. the gearing was a real problem in the PDK and worse in manual ( another friend has a Gayman GTS manual and struggles with the dumb gearing )

got to go for the Emira.
Right. I've read the same thing about the gearing on the Cayman GT4 and GTS. What good is a manual if your gearing is too high? I was looking at both of these, but once the Emira was announced, it was over. I know I will enjoy driving the Lotus more, plus Caymans are everywhere, and it looks so much better IMO.
 

Lankan

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Good comparison. (y)

As a long-term Porsche enthusiast (old school 911s), after falling out of love with the increase in size, proportions, and weight of their newer creations, after a 5-year break, I was looking to get back into Porsche, the only model that drew my attention was the 981 GT4, but having heard about its long gearing I was put off, which lead me to Lotus and the Exige S RGB I have today. As such, if the 718 GT4 has not cured the long gearing then that is a real pity as its engine is superb.

I am sure the Emira is devoid of such foibles.
 
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PaulP

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Mistake in the write up and comparison: You can’t get dual clutch on the V6. That by far is the biggest disappointment for me personally. I do not want a manual for a daily driver in traffic (been there, done that) and I don’t want a slushbox either.
 

EM33RA

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Mistake in the write up and comparison: You can’t get dual clutch on the V6. That by far is the biggest disappointment for me personally. I do not want a manual for a daily driver in traffic (been there, done that) and I don’t want a slushbox either.
Couldn’t agree with you more. Seems Lotus have taken the easy way out in engineering a proper gearbox vs the Asin unit that was average at best to much that wonderful V6. Forcing people to go into the 4 cylinder.

Anyway time will tell for sales post the first year hype. You can just be pretty and not perform per say.
 

Charding234

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Interesting write up. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now as I own a 981 GT4.

Firstly, something I just cannot ignore are these long gearing ‘issues’ everyone who has never owned one complains about. Let’s be fair, in today’s market Porsche are probably the best sportscar manufacturer out there. With a model to suit every budget and purpose. A manufacturer as good as Porsche would not make an error in gearing a car only for high speed straights on track when the car i drive is very much a superb road car that is capable of being a fun once a year track day car. The misconception with the GT4 is that it’s too hardcore, but I’ve owned mine for over 2 years now and came from a gen 1 R8 spider which in itself was a relatively comfy GT touring supercar and I find the two equally capable when it comes to long distance touring.

The GT4 is such an incredible experience to drive with so much theatre that not once in the two years of ownership has the gearing ever crossed my mind when chasing the redline as the experience is just so raw, frantic, exciting, LOUD! that I’m too busy laughing to myself whenever I do. The car is epic, period.

I find myself like most petrolheads, looking for other toys that are mostly out of my budget and I get tempted every so often until I fire up my car and think (or often say out loud) that I must be mad to have considered moving this on when it’s this good but I think that’s the way of any die hard car enthusiast, the temptation to own and experience as much as possible before everything becomes electrified is an illness we all suffer from. The Emira however, is something that has had the strongest lure of any car since. Looks are very much subjective to the individual but I think it’s stunning, and at a similar price point (V6 manual spec) to the GT4 but with a brand new forward thinking platform; the proposition of being able to spec a car FROM FACTORY that looks every bit like a super car is extremely tempting. Anyone who has ever tried to buy a brand new GT series car from Porsche will understand that it can be a political nightmare so I myself had to pick up a used example. I am very much in the purists camp in ref to the article above but I cannot ignore the Emira and if it drives dynamically like a lotus should then I do think why not.

Trust me guys, this gearing is a myth, Porsche are too good to get that kind of thing wrong and only those who actually own these cars will agree, so if you put that aside - is the Emira special enough to trade a limited production Porsche GT car? I’m coming from a 981 remember whereby only 550 were produced in the UK - it’s not a limited edition but it was made in uber low numbers which is why my car is worth exactly what it was when I bought it two years prior. I also worry too many Emiras will be made and much like an Evora 400, will they tempt you in and then a year later bring out other hotter variants which will wipe out your deposit (if financing) which on a car like this could be £10-15k; in the past I’ve always had my initial investment returned on sale with the monthly payments taking care of any interest or depreciation on the loan.

Sorry too much waffle I know but the deliberation is real.. someone who’s in a position whereby they can afford to get one of these beauties, whom doesn’t own a GT4 - I’d say ‘what are you waiting for!!’ …But in my position I just don’t know.
 
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Dragoon

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I owned a 2016 GT4 and I can attest that it is a magnificent car! The gears were probably a bit tall, but it never took away from the car in my opinion. It was such a fun car to rev out and I can only hope that the Emira is just is good. My GT4 was a little too track-focused for touring or taking the wife to dinner. I had the carbon fiber buckets seats that were great once you were in them, but they were a bit of a pain to get in and out of. I'm hoping the Emira is a bit more comfortable for weekend trips but is still as thrilling on deserted roads as the GT4 was.
 

falconexe

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Current Emira deposit holder here...

I am literally test driving a certified pre-owned 2020 GT4 Manual in the morning with 800 miles. It's basically brand new and a beauty!

I really like the Emira, but I've been drooling over a GT4 for 2 years. I've missed 3 of these by hours in the last year, and now I have another opportunity to buy one again, albeit MUCH more expensive than ever before and MUCH more expensive than the Emira. My gut says just wait for my Emira to arrive in late 2023, and save around $40K.

At the very least, I have driven the GT4 PDK, and now I get to try the manual and see about these "tall gears". I'll report back on my decision...
 
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Dragoon

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Current Emira deposit holder here...

I am literally test driving a certified pre-owned 2020 GT4 Manual in the morning with 800 miles. It's basically brand new and a beauty!

I really like the Emira, but I've been drooling over a GT4 for 2 years. I've missed 3 of these by hours in the last year, and now I have another opportunity to buy one again, albeit MUCH more expensive than ever before and MUCH more expensive than the Emira. My gut says just wait for my Emira to arrive in late 2023, and save around $40K.

At the very least, I have driven the GT4 PDK, and now I get to try the manual and see about these "tall gears". I'll report back on my decision...
I've seen GT4s going in the $80k price range. While we haven't gotten US pricing on the Emira yet, I'm sure the Emira will be close to $100k. I sold my GT4 well over a year ago for about $95K and it was a well-optioned car with about 1,600 miles.
 

TomE

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Current Emira deposit holder here...

I am literally test driving a certified pre-owned 2020 GT4 Manual in the morning with 800 miles. It's basically brand new and a beauty!

I really like the Emira, but I've been drooling over a GT4 for 2 years. I've missed 3 of these by hours in the last year, and now I have another opportunity to buy one again, albeit MUCH more expensive than ever before and MUCH more expensive than the Emira. My gut says just wait for my Emira to arrive in late 2023, and save around $40K.

At the very least, I have driven the GT4 PDK, and now I get to try the manual and see about these "tall gears". I'll report back on my decision...
You could drive the GT4 for 2 years without much depreciation (possibly appreciation) and then pick up an Emira. If you're delivery slot isn't until late 2023 then won't the bulk of the payment be due on delivery, so only the deposit you need to fund before that?
 

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Having been fortunate to own both brands I have generally thought the build quality of the Porsche is much better and an excellent car. The raw driver feel I have had from the Lotus cars I own gives them the edge in this category. I have ordered the Emira and hoping the press delight in build quality improvements Lotus have made make it the preferred choice all round for me.

personal choices of course
 

~el~jefe~

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GT4 makes people miserable as a daily driver. it is overpriced. I like it a lot. The 718 Spyder is the GT car to own by Porsche. Spyder is more reasonable as a daily car, more beautiful, super fast still. GT4 is for people with a lot of leisure time on a track, i find it kind of pointless. I also do not know of anyone that keeps a GT4 forever.

It is very reliable though for the most part. Lotus is a heck of a lot cooler. A 718 Cayman T with Full Bucket Seats and nicely trimmed out interior is by far the better car than a GT4 for anyone using it around town + track experimentation. Modern cars need turbos and superchargers to enjoy low and midrange power bands. (aside from my ND2 MX-5 RF i guess or the new flat plane crank Vette).
 

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GT4 makes people miserable as a daily driver. it is overpriced. I like it a lot. The 718 Spyder is the GT car to own by Porsche. Spyder is more reasonable as a daily car, more beautiful, super fast still. GT4 is for people with a lot of leisure time on a track, i find it kind of pointless. I also do not know of anyone that keeps a GT4 forever.

It is very reliable though for the most part. Lotus is a heck of a lot cooler. A 718 Cayman T with Full Bucket Seats and nicely trimmed out interior is by far the better car than a GT4 for anyone using it around town + track experimentation. Modern cars need turbos and superchargers to enjoy low and midrange power bands. (aside from my ND2 MX-5 RF i guess or the new flat plane crank Vette).
The Spyder is great, but if you want a top that goes down with a button, may want to look at the Boxster instead. Not sure the manual top would deter me from the Spyder though as it looks like a baby Speedster. 😁
 

Leonard

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Interesting write up. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now as I own a 981 GT4.

Firstly, something I just cannot ignore are these long gearing ‘issues’ everyone who has never owned one complains about. Let’s be fair, in today’s market Porsche are probably the best sportscar manufacturer out there. With a model to suit every budget and purpose. A manufacturer as good as Porsche would not make an error in gearing a car only for high speed straights on track when the car i drive is very much a superb road car that is capable of being a fun once a year track day car. The misconception with the GT4 is that it’s too hardcore, but I’ve owned mine for over 2 years now and came from a gen 1 R8 spider which in itself was a relatively comfy GT touring supercar and I find the two equally capable when it comes to long distance touring.

The GT4 is such an incredible experience to drive with so much theatre that not once in the two years of ownership has the gearing ever crossed my mind when chasing the redline as the experience is just so raw, frantic, exciting, LOUD! that I’m too busy laughing to myself whenever I do. The car is epic, period.

I find myself like most petrolheads, looking for other toys that are mostly out of my budget and I get tempted every so often until I fire up my car and think (or often say out loud) that I must be mad to have considered moving this on when it’s this good but I think that’s the way of any die hard car enthusiast, the temptation to own and experience as much as possible before everything becomes electrified is an illness we all suffer from. The Emira however, is something that has had the strongest lure of any car since. Looks are very much subjective to the individual but I think it’s stunning, and at a similar price point (V6 manual spec) to the GT4 but with a brand new forward thinking platform; the proposition of being able to spec a car FROM FACTORY that looks every bit like a super car is extremely tempting. Anyone who has ever tried to buy a brand new GT series car from Porsche will understand that it can be a political nightmare so I myself had to pick up a used example. I am very much in the purists camp in ref to the article above but I cannot ignore the Emira and if it drives dynamically like a lotus should then I do think why not.

Trust me guys, this gearing is a myth, Porsche are too good to get that kind of thing wrong and only those who actually own these cars will agree, so if you put that aside - is the Emira special enough to trade a limited production Porsche GT car? I’m coming from a 981 remember whereby only 550 were produced in the UK - it’s not a limited edition but it was made in uber low numbers which is why my car is worth exactly what it was when I bought it two years prior. I also worry too many Emiras will be made and much like an Evora 400, will they tempt you in and then a year later bring out other hotter variants which will wipe out your deposit (if financing) which on a car like this could be £10-15k; in the past I’ve always had my initial investment returned on sale with the monthly payments taking care of any interest or depreciation on the loan.

Sorry too much waffle I know but the deliberation is real.. someone who’s in a position whereby they can afford to get one of these beauties, whom doesn’t own a GT4 - I’d say ‘what are you waiting for!!’ …But in my position I just don’t know.
Agree on everything but the gearing. And I have owned one.
It's definitely not a poor driving experience by any means. But Porsche are knowingly hobbling the 981/718s performance with that box. Why use different ratios to the equivalent 911?
When 2nd is good for 86mph and 3rd is good for 116mph you only need 3 gears and could happily spend 80% of your time just using 2nd, if you like to work the engine and why wouldn't you? Basically it's the only gear you get to redline and make the most of that glorious flat 6 wail and 8000rpm. Shame as its one of the best shifting gear boxes around as well.
My M2 Comp in comparison did 40mph in 1st, 72mph in 2nd and 108mph in 3rd and it made a noticeable difference to me anyway in my enjoyment of working the engine and box.
The 6 cylinder 981s and 718s really are great. Hoping the Emira pulls a blinder and offers 90% of the usability of the Pork, with 20% more driving pleasure and raw thrills. Exciting for all of us to find out anyway!
 

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Why compare Emira with GT4 when there is GTS 4.0 - which is road car first and same price as Emira V6 FE. I got GTS 4.0 last year for my wife and it was €100 k. I ordered myself V6 FE for road driving (have Exige for track) and its roughly the same €100 k., while GT4 is track car first and costs €120 k. Prices probably vary by market, but I guess GT4 is more expensive everywhere and it has different focus compared to Emira.
 

~el~jefe~

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Why compare Emira with GT4 when there is GTS 4.0 - which is road car first and same price as Emira V6 FE. I got GTS 4.0 last year for my wife and it was €100 k. I ordered myself V6 FE for road driving (have Exige for track) and its roughly the same €100 k., while GT4 is track car first and costs €120 k. Prices probably vary by market, but I guess GT4 is more expensive everywhere and it has different focus compared to Emira.

As far as I can tell, being quite into 718's, the Order of cars being wonderful to drive is this:

Lotus Emira v6 manual gearbox
Porsche Boxster T manual gearbox
Porsche Cayman S 718 manual gearbox or PDK and all performance chassis options checked
Porsche 4.0 GTS either version with manual gearbox
Base porsche 718

The GT4 is somewhere in that mix but not a reasonable daily car, and the Spyder is better than all of these.

I would place the GTS 4.0 much lower than a Emira, and the GT4 probably is the better comparison. 4.0L was not meant for the chassis of a standard Boxster or Cayman chassis and aero and tire/wheel setup. 2.5L is the sweet spot for power, 2.0 for levity and B roads with T package.
 

Maverick1

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As far as I can tell, being quite into 718's, the Order of cars being wonderful to drive is this:

Lotus Emira v6 manual gearbox
Porsche Boxster T manual gearbox
Porsche Cayman S 718 manual gearbox or PDK and all performance chassis options checked
Porsche 4.0 GTS either version with manual gearbox
Base porsche 718

The GT4 is somewhere in that mix but not a reasonable daily car, and the Spyder is better than all of these.

I would place the GTS 4.0 much lower than a Emira, and the GT4 probably is the better comparison. 4.0L was not meant for the chassis of a standard Boxster or Cayman chassis and aero and tire/wheel setup. 2.5L is the sweet spot for power, 2.0 for levity and B roads with T package.
Why compare the Emira with the Porsche GT4, when the Emira is attainable to anyone and everyone who has the financial means, where the GT4 is attainable only to the privileged few???
I also have experience that the Cayman 4.0 GTS is also only for the privileged, at least at the dealerships I contacted.
I agree with you, the manual is the more fun, engaging and involving car to drive of each model.😉
 

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