2010 Lotus Evora at Cars and Coffee - Click for high-res gallery

While lucky Brits are already capable of walking into a Lotus dealership and driving off with a new midsize Evora of their very own, Americans still have to wait a bit longer. We've already shown you the 2010 Lotus Evora that was at the L.A. Auto Show, and we've given you info on the specs and options. We've even confirmed U.S. details for the most important numbers.

Although an official release date hasn't been confirmed yet, we have heard that the magic moment will arrive early next year. Whether the Evora gets labeled as a 2010 or 2011 model remains up in the air, but we do know a lot of other info about this all-new model crafted by the magicians in Hethel. What we haven't had until now are some real-world photos. That all changed over the weekend when a couple of test engineers stopped by for a spell at our favorite weekly Southern California car meet, Cars and Coffee. Read the rest of our first impression after the jump, and don't forget to check out the gallery as well.

Photos copyright ©2009 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

Two 2010 Lotus Evora evaluators that were in the area for some last-minute testing were parked amidst the hundreds of other sports cars, muscle cars, race cars and hot rods in Irvine this Saturday morning. Parked next to an original Lotus Elan, the cars looked big, but if you glanced up at the Noble and Rossion parked butt-to-butt with them in the next row, you saw near mirror images. The Evora looks a lot bigger than an Elise or Exige – because it is. Some may complain that Lotus has gone soft because of how large and relatively heavy these cars are, but that impression melts away when you see them in person. They aren't large cars by any means, they appear to be about the size of a Porsche Cayman.

The Evora cuts a very provocative shape that had left bystanders oohing and ahhing. While the red hue made the most of the car's creases and curves, the black example could have been mistaken for a Ferrari F430, though more than one person mentioned Acura's NSX while we were admiring the cars. Apparently, one reviewer has already pointed out that this Lotus doesn't have any clear advantage over the decades old super-Honda. Similar weight (3,000 pounds), horsepower (276), and proportions make the comparison a fair one, but know that this car will likely retail for around $75,000, much less than the dearly-departed NSX. And here's the clincher: the Lotus has a backseat.

That might not seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference for insurance rates and for people who need a little extra room from time to time. We can confirm that the interior is fully capable of swallowing two real adult males, and the backseat is about as abysmal as you'd imagine, but motivated people can fit back there. Really. The one interior shot of the instrument cluster was taken from that very backseat. We'll keep you posted as we get more info about this new offering from Lotus, but for now, check out our high-res gallery.

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