Toyota has built plenty of engines that sound the business. We know the company has it in them, but what comes out isn’t always enthusiast-focused. Yet, here’s a fairly normal Toyota 3.5-liter V6, sitting in the middle of a Lotus. You’ll find it under the hood of a Toyota Camry, but here it is sitting under the engine cover of this 2020 Lotus Evora GT.
Of course, Lotus hasn’t dropped the engine in there without Lotus-fying it. This one has an Edelbrock supercharger with an integrated water-to-air charge cooler, plus a special calibration and tune from Lotus. In the Toyota, the base engine makes 301 horsepower. This Evora GT is putting out 416 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. It also breathes through a set of pipes that the Brits would call ace.
Check out the video at the top to get a taste of what we heard for a week straight. Our Evora GT was equipped with the standard exhaust. There’s an optional titanium exhaust that drops 22 pounds from the curb weight, but Lotus says that it doesn’t actually sound all that different. What does make a difference in the sound is changing the drive mode. There’s a valve that opens in the exhaust when you select Sport mode or press the exhaust button. This drastically changes the sound heard from the cabin. In normal Drive mode, the exhaust is muted and just hanging out in the background. It’s shockingly quiet, but perfect for highway cruising because the drone goes away. Sport mode completely changes the tone and unlocks a sweet wail we didn’t know the Toyota V6 had within it. There’s no computer-enhanced or synthesized noises to be heard here. It’s all real. Taking it one step further in Race mode unlocks the tiniest bit more noise, Lotus says, but it’s hardly noticeable in practice. We found the best experience was in Sport mode, since that reigns in traction control, retains stability control, and boosts throttle response by a bit.
Under tunnels and overpasses — and this does feel weird to say, knowing the engine’s origins — there’s a hint of Formula one car sound in there. We’re talking F1 from a few years ago, not the boring turbo engines of today. The way it shrieks and screams off walls, completely immersing you in the echoing sound, is intoxicating. Very few cars can match the Evora in sound quality, and that’s impressive considering some of the noisemakers car companies put out these days.
We’ve gone this whole time without even mentioning the supercharger whine, too. But it’s there, and quite apparent above 4,000 rpm. So the next time somebody dismisses the Evora’s Toyota engine, play them a clip of what it sounds like. It’s damn near impossible for anybody who loves cars to turn away from that. Look out for a full Road Test on the Evora GT soon.