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Lotus Evora

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Lotus Evora IPS
6/10

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Road Test

Lotus Evora IPS driven

Driven September 2011

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The UK isn't thought of as being particularly obsessed with automatic sports cars. But you can't buy a Ferrari with a manual box anymore, and even 40 per cent of Porsche 911s sold over here are automatics. In somewhere like the States, nearly 100 per cent of sports cars are self-shifters. So Lotus fitting an automatic to the Evora shouldn't come as that much of a shock, even if the last time it fitted one to a car, Maggie Thatcher was in power and blazers with folded sleeves were considered hip.

Welcome to the Evora Intelligent Precision Shift, then - yours for £1,800 (plus £49,600 for the actual car). Because Lotus uses Toyota engines - a 3.5-litre V6, in this case - it also uses a Toyota torque-convertor gearbox. Not only do they work well together, but reliability will never be an issue. As ever, Lotus has tweaked the electrics in this six-speed, so it bears little resemblance to anything you'll have driven in your Camry hire car in the USA.

The main thing that's been altered is the Transmission Control Unit. In other words, how the gearbox actually decides which gear is required and when is now much sportier. Even in normal ‘D' mode, there is a gear-hold function, so there shouldn't be any mid-corner lurch because the gearbox knows you're in a twisty bit and won't shift up. The changes themselves have also been made more aggressive, so you can really feel when the auto is swapping gears.

Which is great in theory, less so in practice. ‘D' needs to be more comfort-orientated, and the box should be more anonymous - that's the whole point of an auto. The Evora lurches between each downchange, and you end up with nodding head syndrome. And despite all the gear-hold stuff, the IPS still hunts between cogs too much when you're trying to get a move on.

Press ‘Sport', and things start to make more sense. Pull the rubberised paddles, and you'll switch it into full manual mode, so even if you rev it to the limiter, it won't shift up. Ironically for an auto, this is where this box works best.

Overall, though, what's impressive is the gearbox doesn't feel out of place in the Evora. It makes the car feel quicker, as you're in the meaty part of the power curve more often, and it doesn't matter that it's a torque-convertor and not a fancy double-clutch gearbox, because there's definitely Lotus DNA here.

But we'd still get the manual box. There are some cars in the world that no self-respecting car fan should ever get with an auto. And the Evora is one of them.

Piers Ward

We like: Simple button layout for the auto
We don't like: Clunky downchanges
The  verdict: Auto doesn't feel silly in an Evora, but we'd still have the manual. Think of the shame.
Performance: 0-62mph in 5.3secs, max 155mph, 32.1mpg
Tech: 3456cc, V6, RWD, 276bhp, 258lb ft, 1436kg, 208g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Stealth grey classic wheels, £340
And avoid this: Tech pack, £2,700

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