Car reviews - Lotus - Evora - coupe range
Exhilarating performance, balanced, forgiving and tactile handling
Room for improvement
Gearshift, rear seat space, vision from cabin
15 Jan 2010
By PHILIP LORD
A SPORTSCAR with a price-tag reaching well beyond six-figure sums is not expected to be boring, but our first few kilometres behind the wheel of the new Evora were exactly that – stuck in a long conga line of traffic led on its merry dance by a sluggish pantech.
The Lotus Evora purred along smoothly like a Corolla.
That is probably a good sign, for a high-end sports car can be high maintenance to drive in traffic, but aside from a slightly heavier than normal clutch pedal, the Evora is an easy-going city car.
Except for vision out of the cabin, that is. Some corners and roundabouts are hard to navigate because of the thick A-pillars, and the back window appears to be almost exclusively for decoration. At least there is an optional rear-view camera.
It might not be perfect to see out of, but the Evora is much easier to get into than any other current Lotus. The Elise and its brethren appear to be built for the average size jockey and anyone else whose avoirdupois or height is in excess of this diminutive average will likely engage in gymnastics as they never have before to be seated in an Elise.
A thick and high sill and steering wheel set close to the sill and seat makes entry and egress like trying to climb into a post box.
Lotus has learned lessons from the Elise, and has made the Evora’s sills lower. The interior is voluminous compared with Elise – a revelation for current Lotus owners, not doubt.
Although the two-plus-two seating is an admirable and practical idea, the rear seats are not intended for anyone of stature. Your 170cm test driver could not sit straight in the back, but angled across the seat to avoid having an ear pressed up hard against the roof. It is rather claustrophobic back there, and requires Elise-like manoeuvring to get in and out. Sub-teenage children would be fine with it, though.
Now we’ve done the cruel hard cynical assessment of the Evora’s foibles, let’s put the clipboard and coat away for a moment and look at the fun bits.
Settling into the deep, supportive and comfortable driver’s seat, the driver is faced with two large dials, the speedo and tacho, flanked by digital readouts.
The analogue speedo is marked in 30km/h increments, which is a bit hard to read but that’s okay as there is a clearer digital speed readout on the left of the dash.
Between the speedo and tacho is a screen with the odo reading, but also a large untenanted space – where the auto version’s gear readout will call home when it arrives in 2011. The trip reading curiously only reads in whole kilometres and not in one-tenth increments.
Although the Evora is quiet and unassuming in traffic, open the butterflies on the open road and the most guttural, aural delight this side of a Porsche flat six is delivered from just behind you. I don’t know how long Lotus took to engineer in this induction noise, but it was time well spent.
Aside from the glorious engine noise, it’s the thumping rate at which the Evora shoots forward that’s impressive. For a highly-strung V6 it is also surprisingly malleable and responsive at low revs, too. The British have dabbled with it, but being a Japanese engine, it might not even leak oil.
With the optional Sports mode button pressed, throttle response is even better and the tacho flicks to the 7000rpm ignition cut-out quickly.
Slicing up a wiggling mountain pass in a pure-bred sports car such as the Evora is definitely not boring. The steering feel is just sensational, telegraphing the nuances of the road and the sheer grip is amazing. The chassis feels so forgiving and neutral for a mid-engine layout, too.
After this sensational engine performance catapults you out of a corner, the brakes wash off speed for the next one with just as much authority. Lotus says the stoppers are fade-free and there are no arguments there. Though pedal feel is a little wooden when the brakes are cold, they come alive when used to their full ability.
Despite a few idiosyncrasies, the Evora is such a likeable car. It combines most the practical requirements of daily transport with breathtaking performance and handling in a way that will ensure owners are never bored – except perhaps when driving the Evora in traffic, that is.
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