Debuting for model-year 2010, the evocative Lotus Evora was the British automaker’s first all-new model in nearly 15 years. Unlike the diminutive go-kart-like Elise, the Evora is a larger and more “user friendly” sports car that’s accommodating enough to be used as a daily driver. An even sportier S version debuted for 2011 with added power and assorted performance enhancements.
Still, it’s no less eye-catching than the automaker’s other offerings, past and present. The Evora comes wrapped in seductively cast aerodynamic bodywork, with elongated headlamps that sweep upwards into muscular fenders, with large vents atop its long hood and below a friendly-looking oval front grille. Bulging rear fenders and a rakish roofline converge into a tall Ferrari-esq rear deck treatment that’s capped by a “floating” rear wing. A convertible version of the Evora is said to be in the works for a future model year.
Best of all (at least for middle aged Lotus aficionados) the car is designed for comparatively easy entry and egress. Unlike the Elise and Exige S, one does not have to be a Cirque de Soleil-class contortionist to climb in and out of it. Lotus claims two six-foot five-inch “American males” can reside comfortably in the front seats. The Evora’s leather-clad cabin is more richly finished than with the automaker’s other U.S. models, and both the base and S models are offered either in a two-seat or in a 2+2 configuration. Though the latter’s back seat isn’t necessarily one that’s designed with full-size adults in mind, it is fitted with specific mountings for securing child seats.
Continuing the powertrain partnership with Toyota that was forged with the Elise, the Evora comes powered by a mid-mounted Lotus-tuned version of the 3.5-liter V6 with dual VVT-i (“intelligent” variable valve timing) that otherwise resides under the hood of such unassuming rides as the Camry and Highlander. Here, it generates 276 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the base Evoras, and is supercharged to achieve a quicker 345 horses and 295 pound-feet in the S. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, also courtesy of Toyota, with a quicker-ratio stick shift optional on the base model and standard on the S. For 2011 a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode is newly optional on the base models for the clutch averse.
While neither engine output may sound particularly impressive, at least in an automotive segment where 500- and 600-horsepower engines run wild, the Evora gets optimal effort out of every one of those horses, thanks to the car’s extensive use of lightweight aluminum. Tipping the scales at just around 3,000 pounds, the Evora is able to reach 60 mph in just over five seconds, with a top speed of around 160 mph. While the car won’t be able to outpace the likes of, say, a Ferrari 458 Italia or even a Porsche 911, those numbers are still respectable and should satisfy all but the speed-thirstiest enthusiasts.
One area in which Lotus traditionally stands out is in its suspension design, with its engineers often called upon by other automakers to help tune their cars’ ride and handling characteristics. Promising athletic cornering prowess, the Evora rides on a fully independent suspension at all four corners, with 18-inch wheels and Yokohama performance tires up front and 19-inch rims and rubber at the back; 19/20 inch rims and rubber are optional. The car’s power-assisted power steering system was specially tuned by Lotus to afford quick response with good road feel.
Oversized vented and cross-drilled discs and calipers ensure confident stopping power from any speed, and the car’s antilock braking system is engineered to engage progressively and at higher thresholds so as not to become intrusive under hard braking.
A Sports Package, optional on the base car and standard with the S versions, includes a “sport” mode for the car’s standard traction control system that likewise allows higher handling thresholds before it intervenes to afford accomplished drivers added wheel slippage. It also includes enhanced engine response and a higher rpm rev limit, along with a specific air diffuser, titanium exhaust tips, cross-drilled brake discs and black painted brake calipers.
As befits its more user-friendly approach (at least for Lotus) to enthusiastic motoring, the Evora offers a few of the latest convenience features, including an available touch-screen audio array with GPS navigation, an iPod adapter and a Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone interface. The navigation system is removable, not only for the sake of security, but to allow users to program destinations before leaving the house. A reverse back-up camera is also optional.
Hand-built at Lotus’ manufacturing facility at Hethel in the east of England, production will be limited to around 2,000 units per year, which should guarantee a healthy degree of automotive exceptionality for those fortunate enough to obtain an Evora.
Lotus Evora Quick Facts
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 276 @ 6,400 rpm, 345 @ 7,000 rpm
Torque: 252 @ 4,700 rpm, 295 @ 4,500 rpm
City/Highway: MPG 18/27
Transmission: 6-Spd Manual, 6-Spd Automatic
Wheelbase: 101.4 in
Overall Length: 170.9 in
Width: 72.8 in
Height: 48.1 in
Curb Weight: 3,047 lbs
MSRP: $64,000 - $81,000
Did You Know?
Lotus displayed a 414E Hybrid concept version of the Evora at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. This “extended range” electric vehicle utilizes a pair of electric motors and a three-cylinder gasoline engine that runs a generator when the batteries are running low, not unlike the current Chevrolet Volt. Lotus claims the car can travel for 35 miles solely on electricity and sprint to 60 mph in under four seconds. While the motors drive the rear wheels via a single-gear transmission, a selectable driving mode can simulate the feel of a seven-speed gearbox. To add visceral appeal to what would otherwise be a relatively muted motoring experience, the driver can choose from four faux engine “sounds” that play through the audio system’s speakers. There was no word as of this writing if or when the 414E Evora Hybrid would go into production.