Driven: Lotus Evora 400
Despite the current trend of automakers pushing autonomous cars, some of us still like to do the driving ourselves. A few of us even like the challenge of shifting our own gears and mastering the art of track driving so we can explore the limits of a car’s handling and performance. For true enthusiasts, Lotus has developed an exceptional sports car that checks all the boxes for someone wanting a great-looking, powerful yet quasi-practical sports car.
Lotus never has been mainstream in its approach. Its most famous philosophy is to “add lightness” to enhance a car’s performance, so you know a Lotus is going to be nimble and a load of fun to toss around. The Evora is all that and more, offering a sexy mid-engine sports car with 400 horsepower and seating for four.
The 3.5-liter, supercharged V6 engine is based on a Toyota V6, so it should be very reliable and easy to fix. The 6-speed manual transmission is superb, and the gearbox is probably the best I’ve ever experienced, with extremely short, precise, mechanical shifts. An automatic is available, though I’m not sure why, especially since the manual is so good and comes with a limited slip differential. It even has auto-rev matching throttle control that automatically blips the throttle on downshifts, allowing you to heel and toe without moving your feet.
Four hundred horsepower is an awful lot for a small sports car, especially one as light as this, so there is gobs of power throughout the rev band. The Evora is remarkably responsive; just think about turning or accelerating, and it does. The small leather and Alcantara steering wheel has power steering, but fortunately feels like it doesn’t. The taut suspension allows you to feel the road like you’re reading Braille. Brakes are equally responsive and of the highest performance standard.
Around 3,500 RPM, when the supercharger kicks in, it’s like a rocket ship. It’s the perfect car for carving up twisty back roads. Despite the car’s tight suspension, the highway ride was remarkably comfortable, even in sport mode. It even has a button on the console that magically increases the roar of the fabulous exhaust note, providing better music than any stereo ever could. This is a car for people who like to drive and who appreciate the ultimate in automotive engineering and old-school driving dynamics, not just the latest technology.
The Evora cockpit has very aggressively bolstered, heated front seats. Visibility out the rear is pretty poor, as half of the small rear window is blocked by the engine, but there are parking sensors and a very helpful back-up camera, along with decent-sized side mirrors for lane changing. Getting in and out of the low-slung Evora is worth the extra effort. Once in the cozy cabin, there is plenty of headroom for an average-sized person (tall drivers may have issues).
One British sports car quirk? You have to insert and turn the key, then press buttons on the key and to the left of the steering wheel to start the engine. Combined with the manual transmission, it probably negates the need for an alarm. Amenities include cruise control and bixenon headlights. Amazingly, there is a back seat, which is really an afterthought that helps reduce insurance rates. Behind the engine there’s a small ‘trunk’ that could hold maybe a large gym bag, but not much more.
According to John Singleton, Lotus brand specialist at St. Louis Motorcars, “The Evora looks like an exotic supercar but costs less than $100,000. It can go from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds and has interior ergonomics that are much better than previous generations.”
technicals: evora sport 400
>> base: $94,000, including delivery
>> as driven with options: $104,000
>> 16 city
>> 24 highway
>> mid-enging, rear-wheel drive
>> 3.5-liter, supercharged V6 engine
>> 400 horsepower
>> 6-speed manual transmission
Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.