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Lotus Evora vs Porsche 911

  1. Evora vs Porsche 911

    Ever since Lotus launched the Evora in 2009 with a Toyota
    V6, vestigial back seats, a £49,500 price tag and stout ambition, there’s been
    one giant Teutonic elephant in the room: the Porsche 911. But Lotus always
    managed a little distance: an Evora at sub-50k was still £17k cheaper than the
    £67k of the base-spec 911 Carrera 2 – if  you managed to stay off the
    options buffet. It also positioned itself into a lower-performing niche: 276bhp
    versus the 345bhp of the lowliest 911. The Evora S changes all that. 

    Words: Tom Ford
    Photos: Barry Hayden

    This feature was originally published in the March issue of Top Gear magazine

  2. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The addition of a supercharger bumps the Lotus’s power output to exactly 345bhp and the very basic price to £58,800 for the 2+0 variant. Add some much-needed options to the 2+2 - the Porsche comes with two rear buckets as standard - and that’s smack bang into the Stuttgart court. Lotus will find excuses harder to fudge this high up the food chain. This far up, the competition has teeth. 

  3. Evora vs Porsche 911

    Let’s start with some figures: the boggo versions of a Lotus
    Evora S 2+2 and a Porsche 911 Carrera 2 weigh in at £60,300 and £67,270
    respectively. The cars we have here cost £73,459 for the Porsche and £70,360
    for the Evora S. Pause, breathe, realise that’s over 70-grand’s worth of
    Norfolk’s finest. The white Porsche in the pictures has a relatively modest
    hazing of options (sports exhaust, optional wheels, HDD nav and various
    Bluetooth and iPod media).

  4. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The Evora is more highly specced - it has 4,500-quid’s worth
    of Tech and Premium Pack additions (which basically amount to leather and stereo
    upgrades and other addenda), as well as £3,400 of paint and wheels (19s on the front
    and 20s on the back). Both, it would be wise to point out, are the carriers of
    some fairly unforgivable options: a rear wiper for the 911 costs £235, and the
    Evora requires you to stump up £340 for body-coloured door handles, both
    require you to buy floor mats, but the point stands: the Evora is now placing
    itself directly in harm’s way.

  5. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The performance figures also bear out the Lotus’s near-parity
    with the 911. Equipped with a Harrop supercharger bolted to its mid-mounted
    3.5-litre V6, the Evora S pumps out exactly the same 345bhp, weighs 1,437kg
    (very slightly more than the Porsche, surprisingly), manages 0-62mph in 4.8
    seconds and a 172mph top speed. The Porsche, for reference, has an identical
    345bhp from a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated flat six stuffed in its rear,
    weighs 1,415kg and sprints to 62mph in 4.9 seconds. Top speed for the 911 is an
    entirely respectable 180mph. So the two are almost perfectly matched. On paper.

  6. Evora vs Porsche 911

    After that, any similarities pretty much end. The Porsche is
    a lesson in long-term development: the slope-backed shape calmingly familiar,
    the wingless, slim-arched and uncluttered Carrera 2 the purest and prettiest of
    all the 911 variants. The optional 19-inch black-painted wheels and white
    paintwork are just enough to make this Porsche stand out without contaminating
    the overall effect. It is, while being fully aware ofthe weight of the word,
     iconic.

  7. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The effect is carried over into the interior. The Porsche is
    relatively spartan, a few too many buttons on the centre console to stymie any
    true aspirations of minimalism, but the general ambience is one of stylistic
    control. Comfortable, neat seats, buttonless wheel, pedals, gearstick and you,
    all positioned just so. The doors open wide, vision is fantastic - better than
    any of the current crop of coupe-hatches - and there’s a very basic rightness to the Porsche that makes it very easy to settle into, even if there’s a
    nagging feeling that the 911 is just a bit po-faced for its own good.

  8. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The Evora S, on the other hand, is much more explicit.
    There’s no other way to describe it than the bare fact that the Lotus simply
    looks faster. Slung low, it sledges along looking eminently mid-engined, a hook
    of integrated rear spoiler floating above a fat central-exit exhaust and
    venturi-esque rear bumper treatment. There are vents and grilles and
    huge-looking and utterly lovely anthracite-accented rims. You walk up to the
    911 with a sigh of contentment, but the fizz of adrenaline really only comes
    when you’re approaching the Evora. In a more restrained colour, the Evora S
    would look very intense and very tempting indeed.

  9. Evora vs Porsche 911

    Inside, the Lotus is more of the same. A wide sill and
    relatively low door mean that you still have to slide your bum into the Evora
    and follow it with your legs, rather than just sitting down like you do in the
    Porsche, but once inside there’s a surprising amount of room. A semi-floating
    metal centre console contains rotary heater controls, above that a flashy and
    bought-in-looking Alpine multi-media head-unit.

  10. Evora vs Porsche 911

    Directly in front is a set of cowled dials (speed and revs) with some racy-looking graphics, framed by two side panels of flush-fit alloy buttons for things like lights, traction control and Sport functions. You sit low, but perfectly comfortably next to a relatively tall gearstick, and it’s very easy to get settled once you’re in, though probably worth mentioning that rear vision is limited. Rear parking sensors come as part of the Tech Pack, and be aware that it would be wise to option them: reversing the Evora S, you view the world through what appears to be the eyeslit in a medieval suit of armour. 

  11. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The real reason we’re here, though, is to figure out which
    one you would spend cold, hard cash on, so we need to assess which one floats
    boats when it comes to driving. Well, if you dig into the tedious numbers, the
    Porsche’s slight weight advantage of 17kg over the Lotus is part-negated by the
    Evora’s extra 8lb ft of torque, so in a drag race the two cars are all but
    identical. There is literally a fag paper between them up to track-spec speeds,
    at which point the Porsche seems to just slip through the air a little more
    easily. Though to be honest, you’ll never find that out on a public road. But
    put these two cars side by side on a twisty bit of tarmac, and you’ll be
    stunned by how different two sports cars can be. They really are that far
     apart.

  12. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The Porsche is stiff - no other word for it. Sure, it’ll
    soak up a consistent, large-amplitude hump like nobody’s business, but stick it
    on the average British B-road and you better be hanging on and practising your
    yodelling. The gearbox is slightly rubbery in places but utterly accurate, and
    the steering is absolutely spot-on: simply aim down the turrets of the
    headlights, and the 911 will put you there.

  13. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The flat six sounds like a bag of spanners at idle, a wonderful yowl at full chat, and the way it sears though its range is genuinely exciting. Forget any particular party tricks, the 3.6 in the basic 911 has candid and instant response and runs through the rev-range like it really enjoys it. It actually feels like it has more torque than it does, and although the brakes are perfectly adequate when warm, they could do with more bite and aggression. It is a performance that reminds you why the 911 has become a bit of a cliché. Because it’s so bloody good.

  14. Evora vs Porsche 911

    The Evora S, on the other hand, is a revelation, even with
    fairly modest suspension tweaks over the standard car. From the moment you
    grasp the steering wheel, from the first manhole cover or raised drain, you
    know this is somethingspecial. Telepathic steering, insanely absorbent
    suspension. You can feel the slight gyroscopic effect of the larger rims and
    the texture and grain of the road surface - I swear I’m not making that up -
    but from a car that rides like a peculiarly committed S-Class. Alright, so
    maybe not quite limo-levels of unperturbability, but the harder you push the
    Evora, the more it provides fairly startling answers.

  15. Evora vs Porsche 911

    You can pile into corners, hit mid-corner bumps that have the 911 scrabbling and bouncing, and the Evora slices through, unruffled. The engine is thorough but a little soulless, barking through the gears but never really revelling, even with the Sport button depressed, throttle response set to maximum and the exhaust’s throat cleared. And the gearbox, despite being the Sport option, still refuses to be hurried from fifth to fourth and third to second. But the Recaro seats are incredibly comfortable, and that fact, coupled with the steering and suspension, makes the Evora S one of the fastest cars I have driven across country in the past 18 months. Just enough to be scary, not scary enough to be overly cautious.

  16. Evora vs Porsche 911

    So the Evora has the best suspension and handling kinematics
    by far, superlative steering and a strong, motivated engine. The Porsche is the
    most practical, the least fussy and has a truly lovely engine and interior. You
    could argue the case for either, for a very long time. Except for one thing:
    the Evora isn’t put together like a £70k-plus car. Or even a £60k-plus car.

  17. The truth of the matter is this: you can forgive having to slide the driver’s seat back and forth to get in and out. You can forgive a bit of bum-shuffling and lack of rearward vision. You can forgive slippery rotary controls. What you can’t forgive at this price are windscreen wipers that interfere with the stereo, dodgy ergonomics from the control stalks, loose carpet under the accelerator, a creatively wandering idle and bare screw heads. That stuff just creates paranoia. We should be discussing here whether you want a 911 with Evora suspension, or an Evora with Porsche build quality. But we can’t, and so the choice remains simple: there is no choice. You would advise people to try the Lotus to feel what proper suspension set-up feels like, and then you’d insist they buy the 911 to save them from screaming insanity. Game over.

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