Lotus Evora 3.5 V6 GT410 2dr
You can’t talk about driving a Lotus without immediately talking about a) how light it is and what effect that has, or b) the steering, which then, by law, has to be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘telepathic’.
So the Evora’s steering is, as you’d expect from Lotus, immediate, direct and beautifully weighted. There’s power steering, unlike the Exige and Elise, but it still feels almost every bit as connected and in tune as the other two’s manual racks. It is astonishingly well-engineered, a near-seamless giver of instruction and receiver of feedback. No, really – not knowing what the front wheels are doing in a Lotus should be grounds for the immediate and permanent loss of your driving licence.
Lotus chooses to keep the faith in the old ways of hydraulic power steering in an era where almost everything else is getting electric assistance. And that’s for very good reason – the fact is that you just can’t get the same interactivity with EPAS as you can with hydraulic fluid.
The reason so many manufacturers fit EPAS is that they’re chasing stricter economy and pollution targets by fitting the more efficient system, even though it puts another buffer between driver and road. So how, you may wonder, does Lotus get away with hydraulic where major manufacturers can’t? That’s simple – the Evora is so light, it still hits emissions targets with a supercharged V6 and hydraulic power steering.
And that low weight has another benefit – what effect its 3.5-litre V6 has when you make merry with your right foot. With 410bhp, the Evora is a long way off the regular front-engined GT crowd in outright power stakes. But when there’s less than 1,400kg to motivate, the effects of that much supercharged shove are every bit as entertaining as any of the big-power-big-weight pretenders. And let’s not forget that we’re talking about more than 400 horsepower in a car originally designed for less than 300.
This is because the new Evora is an altogether more aggressive machine than ever before – diffusers and huge vents adorn the rear, horsepower has shot up from a good-enough 280bhp to full wa-hey spec 410bhp, and Lotus has found ways to keep shedding weight as the years go on. Put the GT410 Sport on the scales with its original ancestor, then scoop your jaw back up when you realise that it’s lost a Biggest Loser-worthy 112kg while gaining a supercharger, intercooler and nearly 50 per cent more power. That supercharged V6, by the way, makes the same ferocious, guttural wail as it does in the Exige. If you’ve not experienced that sound, here’s a rough approximation. Imagine Brian Blessed fighting an enraged Kodiak bear and funnel it through Millwall losing to West Ham in overtime. That gets you about halfway there.
But for all the engine’s ferocity and the increasingly hard edge that the Evora has moved towards, the general feeling is still one of lightness and balance. There’s unflappable compliance from the suspension, too, even with the new Evora’s lighter weight and firmer suspension, that makes the Evora uncannily adroit at long-distance driving.
There’s a common saying among road testers, of a car breathing with the road surface. It’s absolutely the case here – it won’t twitch or fidget over imperfections, but it will keep a reassuringly positive connection with the road surface. It gives an impression of flowing down a road, rather than smashing your way along it or wafting over it. It’s also, in case this much isn’t obvious, absolutely brilliant.
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