2011 Evora New Car Test Drive
A compelling British sports car, the Lotus Evora combines excellent performance with good fuel economy. With its 2+2 seating, mid-engine configuration and exotic styling, the Evora is a pure sports car yet it's surprisingly practical. This is the first new Lotus nameplate in 15 years, the product of an exclusive brand with a 62-year heritage.
The Evora is not the first 2+2 car Lotus ever offered, but it is the first since 1992. While the back seat is not roomy, it can accommodate a smaller person (5-feet and under) sitting behind a 6-foot, 1-inch driver.
For the Evora, like other Lotus cars, the primary focus is on pure driving dynamics. A lightweight forged-aluminum suspension provides impressive handling and side-to-side balance. Precise steering and powerful brakes that come on strong with just a light touch are also part of the formula. Because of the car's relatively light weight, a 276-horsepower V6 provides brisk acceleration. The agile Evora is capable of over 1g lateral acceleration, can hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, and brake from 60 mph in 100 feet. Top speed is 162 mph.
Its exotic appearance combines fluid surfaces, functional cooling ducts, and crisp lines. Most body panels are lightweight composite, and the chassis makes extensive use of aluminum. Lotus cars are built to be among the lightest on the road, and the Evora is no exception.
A greater degree of practicality distinguishes the Evora from other similarly compelling Lotus cars. Along with the back seat for small passengers, the Evora offers tolerable ride quality, more amenities, an easier-to-drive V6, and bigger storage areas. It is easier to get in and out of than the Lotus Elise, and the 2+2 configuration will likely lead to lower insurance premiums. That makes the Evora a more comfortable Lotus that can be driven daily, not just a track/weekend car.
That said, practical is a relative term. The console houses a shifter, not cup holders, and the seats are designed to hold the occupants firmly in place. There is a navigation system and Alpine audio system, but engine sound levels rise sharply after 3500 rpm. The Evora is, first and foremost, about the driving experience.
Visually, the Evora is evocative from every angle. Close inspection yields a race-born obsession to save weight. Even hidden pieces, like hinges on the rear hatch and armrest, are made from extruded aluminum.
Driving the Evora on public roads can be an exercise in self-control. The car rewards a confident driver with incredible levels of grip, and a nearly imperceptible amount of body roll from side to side. Less experienced drivers will find the Evora forgiving of early-apex cornering and mis-judged entries. The car loves tight, diminishing-radius turns followed by sudden twists in the opposite direction. It tolerates choppy surfaces with no apparent loss of control, and keeps tires on the pavement when a rising section of road might get another car airborne. Serious braking power is immediately available by lightly feathering the pedal. Steering is direct and linear, requiring minimal hand movement on the D-shaped, magnesium steering wheel.
Electronic stability control and ABS are standard on the Evora. The systems seem to have a very high threshold, especially with the Sport package, which tweaks the thresholds higher. They are hard to trigger, designed to function as driver aids without interfering with sportive driving. However, even these unobtrusive systems can be switched off should the driver choose.
The Evora is currently the world's only mid-engine 2+2 production car. Approximately 2000 will be built in the coming year, with about 700 earmarked for sale in North America. While there are no exact competitors, size and price range suggest the Evora might be shopped against the mid-engine two-seat Porsche Cayman S. Currently, there are 48 Lotus dealers in the United States, and three in Canada. While regular oil changes and the like could be handled practically anywhere, a buyer would need access to a Lotus dealer for proper electronic diagnosis and tuning.
The 2010 Lotus Evora ($73,500) comes standard with the 2+2 configuration, or buyers can delete the back seat for storage space ($72,990).
Standard features include leather upholstery, Recaro black leather sport seats with recline, tilt and slide adjustments, air conditioning, flat-bottomed leather and magnesium steering wheel, manual steering column adjustments for length and height, illuminated aluminum control knobs and switches, power windows, leather shift knob and handbrake cover, remote release glove box, door storage bins and pockets, trip computer, Alpine CD/MP3 stereo with iPod dock connector and auxiliary input.
The Tech Package ($2,995) includes an upgraded stereo system, 7-inch touch-screen display, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB connection, cruise control, rear park sensors; rearview camera ($495). The Premium Package ($1,990) includes full leather trim for doors, center console. Also optional is a StarShield ($995) to protect paint on the leading edges.
The Sport Package ($1,275) features enhanced throttle response and rpm limit, sports traction control mode with increased yaw and slip thresholds, sports diffuser, titanium sports exhaust tailpipe, cross-drilled brake discs, black painted brake calipers, engine oil cooler. A Sports Ratio six-speed gearbox ($1,500) is optional.