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The Top Gear car review:Lotus Evora 400
For:The way it drives is little short of sublime
Against:It's still not built or finished like a Porsche, the price is a bit of a surprise
Facelift time for the Evora?
More than. It’s been around for six years. But steady on: this not so much a facelift as a...
Not a racier version, but a kit-special: more stuff for not-much-more money…
A shame you can’t buy it, but if this is what range-extenders might be like one day, bring on the future
There’s a new gearbox in order to entice more buyers. Is that enough? Jason Barlow investigates…
More appealing, but you’ll still buy it for the driving dynamics, not the quality
Lotus is now offering an automatic gearbox for the Evora. Well, at least you’ve got the option…
Hedge-fund managers, take note: the time has come to cast aside your Porsche 911 and buy a Lotus Evora
Basic Evora makes much more sense. Pointless rear seats are dropped, but it still retains the awesome handling.
What we say:
Less of a facelift, more of a reincarnation - with one or two lessons for Porsche...
What is it?
Lotus has had a rough ride through the sports car seas in recent years. The Evora was first launched back in 2009, just before the arrival of Danny Bahar and his grand plans to take Lotus into Ferrari’s stomping ground. Ultimately, none of his cars came to fruition while he was still in employment at Hethel, and so the Evora weathered that storm and sailed into the calmer waters of DRB-Hicom ownership. Almost becalmed, in fact.
Six years after its launch Lotus finally got around to giving the Evora a good freshen up. Bodywork has been tweaked, fit and finish supposedly significantly enhanced and, as the name suggests, the 3.5-litre V6 has been boosted up to a nice round 400bhp.
The Evora has morphed from something charmingly delicate into a machine in a more different, serious league. Stiffer springs and dampers mean the low-speed ride is tougher, but hey, it’s still more supple than most quick sports cars this side of a McLaren. And at speed, things start to breathe serenely behind you.
The steering was once one of the most vivid systems in the whole of car-land, but now it talks slightly less of the ever-altering slip angles and tyre weighting. That’s partly because its geometry has been modified to reduce kickback and tramlining, but mostly because slip angles are lower now.
Acceleration out of tight bends is supercar quick – not just because of that power-to-weight business, but because of astounding traction, plus a traction control system that operates at the point where the digital fades into the lyrical.
On the inside
Well thanks to lower, narrower sills, you can now get in and out without thinking about it. Once inside you’ll find new Sparco seats, which are comfy yet supportive and usefully lighter than before.
The new dash looks better and is upholstered more fittingly for the £72K car this has become. Perhaps most important, the switches have been redone. In the old car they looked cheap, but the new arrangement of auxiliary and light switches is far more ergonomic and better-looking. Ok, it’s still not to Porsche standards, but it’s considerably better than what went before. For existing Evora owners considering the upgrade, it’s a transformation.
Ah, now we come to price. Lotus is charging £72,010 for the Evora 400, which is Porsche money. The Evora used to be around £50K, but that car was a very different machine to this one. If you want something that’s the measure of a Porsche 911 around a handling course, it seems you have to pay, well, Porsche 911 money. But there are surprises. The Lotus should cost less to run, for one – and not just because the parts are cheaper: dealers tell us strong demand and limited supply are keeping used Evora prices sky-high. Factor in the car’s huge breadth of abilities and it seems likely to be more of the same. So yes, it’s expensive. But it’s still a relatively safe buy. Who’d have thought it…