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The Top Gear car review:Lotus Evora
For:A properly joyous experience that’s in increasingly short supply, and an object lesson for sports car manufacturers everywhere to focus on what makes driving fun, rather than fast
Against:True to the Lotus ethos of low weight and driver involvement, but just not quite as true as the rest of Lotus’s repertoire
What is it?
Practicality is not a sexy thing. Think about it: flip-flops versus stilettos, accountants versus stuntmen and compound interest versus winning big at the roulette table. There’s a certain lack of excitement in the sensible version, isn’t there?
So where does that leave the Evora, unquestionably the most practical Lotus you can buy? Well, as far as we can tell, with the techs up in Hethel doing three things: easing off on practicality by a few notches, dialling up the performance by more notches than Errol Flynn’s belt, and generally doing everything they can to restore the good name of practicality in the process.
And it’s not like we’re talking about a family estate, is it? The Evora’s a featherweight sports coupe with two seats for adults, two seats for the slimmest of children and a boot big enough for half of this hypothetical four-person family’s stuff. Or, to put it another way, it’s a lighter, mid-engined, V6, British version of the Porsche 911. Because of course we have to make that comparison.
The Evora has been around since 2009, but the car that Lotus is making today is about as different as The Carpenters and Carpenter Brut. It’s matured over the years, losing weight and gaining performance, new styling inside and out and a harder edge than Elizabeth Debicki’s collarbones.
It’s a bit of a weird proposition, the Evora – it’s a grand tourer, but it’s built by people famous for supremely lightweight sports cars. It’s a rear-mid-engined GT too, part of an exceptionally finite amount on offer, even today, during perhaps the fattest time for hyperbolically expensive hypercars. There’s the BMW i8, if you were generous with your definition of GT, the McLaren GT, which has also grown from more sporty origins, the Ford GT – which gets in on a technicality of actually being called a GT – and the Bugatti Chiron, which is more of an excessively grand hyper tourer. So it’s a pretty niche market.
And yet the Evora is Lotus’s international model. It’s tested and homologated across Europe, China and the United States, giving it the biggest reach outside of the UK’s soggy, rocky coastline. So it has to be of a format that more buyers are willing to consider – the daily driving sports car. And this has quite an effect on the final feel.
There are really two ways of looking at the Evora: either as a bigger, softer Lotus – kind of like Pink Floyd in the 1990s – or as the lightest, lithest GT car that money can buy. Oh, and did we mention one of the best-driving?