EngineSC 3.5L V6
Power410 HP / 302 LB-FT
Transmission6-Speed Manual or 6-Speed Automatic
0-60 Time3.9–4.0 Seconds
Base Price$105,000 (est)
Your correspondent attended the launch to test the waters, but in the process found that you'll still have time to enjoy your stock 400 model, since the Sport won't be gracing US shores before next summer – Lotus still has to engineer its lightweight construction for US safety regulations. And will you then want to swap for one at a likely price in excess of $105,000? Read on.
- Not if you plan to carry the kids, since the new Sport 410 is now strictly a two-seater. The vestigial rear perches, along with the air conditioning, stereo wireless, rear bulkhead glass, sound insulation, door trims, and even the mud flaps have been jettisoned to reduce mass. As a result, you can't see much out of the rear-view mirror except carbon-fiber stays.
- Other weight-saving measures include new carbon-fiber panels for the roof, rear deck, and front and rear panels. There's a new lithium-ion main battery saving 25 pounds and an optional titanium exhaust system that's lighter and sounds saucier. Total weight saving is 154 pounds compared to the 400, which makes the curb weight a feather-like 2,923 pounds despite the addition of a new transmission oil cooler.
- It pushes itself into the ground harder, too. Aerodynamic tweaks such as the front splitter and rear spoiler increase downforce from 19 pounds to 40 at 100 mph and from 71 pounds to 141 at 150 mph.
- Lotus has tweaked its inlet-charge-cooled and supercharged 3.5-liter V6 Toyota Camry engine to yield 10 extra horsepower for a total of 410 (hence the name) at 7,000 rpm and 302 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The 410 will hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds with the six-speed manual, or in 3.9 with the six-speed automatic.
- Suspension adjustments include re-valved dampers and an effective spring-rate increase thanks to the lighter weight. The hydraulically assisted steering and AP Racing brakes with two-piece rotors remain the same, as does the geared Torsen-type limited-slip differential. The Sport runs on specially forged Magnesium lightweight wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 19/20-inch tires front/rear.
- All this should result in a performance difference, with Lotus claiming the Sport will lap its Hethel test track some 13 seconds faster than the first 2008 Evora models and three seconds faster than the current Evora 400. Since the Hethel test track is smoother than a kitchen counter, this is largely academic, but now you know.
- All these changes have a discernible effect on what is already a very competent car. The steering is blindingly precise, progressive, and accurate. You know exactly where this car is on the road, and where and how much you need to turn the wheel. And there's a delicious responsiveness to the chassis – it turns in fast but reasonably flat.
- The ride quality, on some of the worst roads, is simply remarkable. Unlike the Sport versions of rival two-seat coupes (you know who you are), this Evora could conceivably be used as a daily driver. Motoring journalists spend their lives trying to explain great chassis feedback and steering precision, and then a car like this comes along and all you can say is: "It's like that!"
- While the blown Camry motor isn't the last word in charisma, it pulls harder than a kid in a candy shop from as little as 1,500 rpm, topping out at a yowling 7,000 rpm, although on the street you'll likely have changed gear before 5,000 rpm – unless you plan on ripping up your drivers license up right now.
- Which leads to the main Achilles' Heel, the manual shifter. While this cable shift was reworked for the new 400, it's not good there or on the 410. Grating and obstructive, you have to chaperone it through the gate and you're always conscious of the dangers of a missed shift. The six-speed torque-converter automatic isn't a bad alternative, but seems such a shame to have an auto in a car like this, unless you're Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, of course.
- This rates as one of the most intuitive supercars on sale. While most discourage you from finding the limits by simply frightening you, the Lotus positively encourages you to drive hard and is forgiving as your grandma, without ever insulting your ability by reverting to nose-on understeer. With a long wheelbase and a terrific setup, it's analogue heaven and goes sideways with the best of them. Best, however, is in race mode, where the understeer-recognition software is switched out and the nose changes direction with uncanny lightness and speed. It's there that you realize this glorious chassis setup is like a wise old owl perched on your shoulder, telling you what to do as you slide this amazing car through turn after turn. It's seriously better than anything else, including cars several times as costly.
- It's not all perfect. The cabin, while much improved over those of earlier Evoras, is still dated, using old Ford switchgear and a confusing layout. The heater fan sounds like leaf blower jammed under the manual seat, so it's just as well air conditioning is an option. On the plus side, the carbon-fiber bucket seats are comfortable to a point, and the driving position is good for all heights up to at least six feet.
Dany Bahar and his management cohorts left Colin Chapman's old company in a precarious state, with huge debts and an uncertain purpose in a world where huge conglomerates like the Volkswagen Group can bankroll sports car brands like Porsche. The new CEO, Jean-Marc Gales, has had to turn the company around, cutting back and using the old Lotus adages of light weight and purity.
There's nothing much purer than the Evora Sport 410, but it won't appeal to those who like their sports cars plug-and-play. Lotus is a specialist marque for good and bad, and its appeal is to those who value chassis balance and the work of some of the best chassis engineers in the business.
You don't just leave an Evora in the garage to impress friends after a dinner party. No, they are far too good for that and, right now, the Sport 410 is the best of them all, even considering the extra $10,000 or so it will cost. So start saving now to trade up from that 400.