New Lotus Evora GTE vs the Stig
The most powerful road-going Lotus ever vs our tame racing driver
Posted: 12 Jul 2012
The package isn't perfect, mind. On track, the paddle-shifted manual found a sliver of a sweet spot for hard upchanges; on the road and at a less frenetic pace, the 'box has that horrible habit of making your head rock back and forth. It also dropped a gear a couple of times under hard load. Downchanges are snappy, precise and beautifully punctuated by throaty throttle blips, but if you've recently driven any modern car with a DSG, the GTE will feel tardy on the upchange. Lotus acknowledges the issue and reckons the 'box will be much quicker, come full production, following tweaks to the engine mounts and the shift itself. I chose the more prosaic approach in the meantime of trying to only change gear in the 6,000+ rpm sweetspot, which proved to be a bit annoying in traffic.
When I eventually arrive back at Hethel, the Stig is waiting by the barrier. There's rumour that he emerged from some molten aluminium in the Lotus Motorsport shed, with the ‘Death Star' theme playing faintly in the background. I hand over the GTE, and he snaps the car out onto the circuit, rooster tails of spray venting themselves skywards as it blares off into the distance. Stig, unsurprisingly, demonstrates that the GTE is more than capable of being drifted, memorably managing a couple of 60mph sideways moments with hangtime the entire length of the top corner. But he also spins. Twice. Which just goes to show that tidy is better for the GTE, and that the margins for error once the envelope is breached are small and sharp-edged. A few rigorous laps later, he drives back through the barrier, steps from the car, gives the briefest ghost of a nod and walks off into a field. High praise indeed.