Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Arriving Down Under in January 2010, the sleekly styled Lotus Evora is the first all new Lotus since the Elise Series 2 first rolled off the production line ten years previously - discounting of course the more track focused specials and the not so successful Europa. The Evora is so much more ‘mini-supercar’ looking than the discontinued Europa, no surprise our entire test team gives the styling the nod of approval. The wide opening grille and bonnet vents at the front; the classic coke bottle hips and retro tail-lights at the rear; the combination of 18 inch diameter wheels up front and 19 inch at the back; all combine to create one heck of a sexy, exotic sports car.

Underneath the lightweight composite body panels sits a super-stiff, yet lightweight, aluminium tub which forms a safety cell around the driver and passengers. The chassis structure of the Evora is said to weight just over 200kg and plays a key part to an impressively low kerb weight of 1,380kg.

The Lotus Evora is the first Lotus since 1992 to be offered with two-plus-two seating and is the world’s only 2+2 mid-engined sports car currently in production.
Not so good Compared to its competitors (actually compared to 99% of premium cars) the Evora’s lightweight and frameless doors close with a cheap ‘clanging’ sound rather than a reassuring ‘thud'.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Unique interior layout with almost all the controls and stalks of a bespoke design. The deeply concave wraparound windscreen, with one huge wiper, sets the tone that you’re sitting in something special and it also lets plenty of light inside. The leather finished Recaro front seats offer excellent support and the wide body equates to healthy amounts of elbow space between the driver and passenger.

Headroom up front is more than sufficient (the seats are mounted sports car low) and the 2 seat-only grade replaces the rear seats with a decent sized storage shelf which will happily hold a couple of big weekender bags.
Not so good Whilst entry and exit from the low cabin is less difficult than squeezing into an Exige (Lotus’ more track focused model), less-limber folks beware as the sills are wide and relatively high. Females should also be careful as existing in style whilst wearing a mini-skirt looks nigh on impossible.

Once behind the wheel, it feels wrong to say anything against the Evora as the driving position is nigh on perfect. However, the speedometer’s 30km/h increments makes it difficult to see exactly how fast you're going (best to look at the small digital readout to the left of the main speedo) and rear vision is very limited as looking out the small letterbox rear window shows more of the mid-mounted engine than the road behind (luckily the side mirrors are decently sized and a reverse mounted camera comes as standard).

The two-seat rear bench (+2 grade) is really only for emergency use, so whilst adult friends are unlikely to appreciate being squeezed in back there, dropping the kids off to primary school in the Evora would be so much cooler than arriving in the usual BMW or Mercedes SUV.

Luggage space is on the small side at only 160L (which is about half the size of space offered in the rear of a small family hatchback) and this space is located behind the mid-mounted engine. There’s no storage space in the front nose section of the Evora.
Performance

Performance

Good The Evora is powered by a Toyota sourced naturally aspirated 3.5L V6, developing 206kW of power and 341Nm of torque as found in the Aurion . The performance on offer is very good, with the engine emitting a gloriously raucous shriek as it approaches the 7000 rev redline (the exhaust system was developed in-house by Lotus , as were the fuel and clutch systems).

With a perfect start and quick gear changes the 0 -100km/h sprint only takes 5.1 seconds (official figures, but after a week with the Lotus, we’ve no reason to question this number). Whilst the just over 200kW of power can also be found in an entry level Falcon or Commodore, both weigh hundreds of kilograms more than the lightweight Evora.
Not so good The performance on offer feels just enough rather than ‘super-car quick’ however acceleration junkies will be glad to hear a supercharged grade will arrive Down Under by mid 2011. The standard six-speed manual gearbox can feel ropey at times and the throw between gears is longer than ideal as is the amount of transmission noise that enters the cabin.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The handling and agility of the Evora is truly excellent. The Lotus Evora's limits won't be met on public roads, it's that impressive. After our team spent a memorable week behind the wheel, we were all left praising the superb levels of balance and poise. Out in the hills the Evora changes direction like a go-kart, sits dead flat and never feels unsettled. Even rougher road surfaces, so typical in Australia, can’t bring it back to normality. Utterly Brilliant we say!

At the same time as being our current favourite car for a back road-blast the Lotus Evora is also surprisingly docile and forgiving in a more urban environment. The ride is significantly more comfortable than the more extreme Lotus Elise and Exige models. We'll put it down to the longer wheelbase and more supple suspension.

The sensationally communicative steering is a hydraulic power-assisted unit made by TRW and co-developed with Lotus. The weighting of the wheel is near perfect, it’s quick turn to turn, and oh-so fluid.

The standard brake package consists of four-piston calipers with big 350mm diameter ventilated rotors up front and 332mm at the back. Under hard road use the stopping power is rock solid and we didn't experience any brake-fade.

The standard Pirelli P-Zero tyres offer ‘oodles’ of grip and not surprisingly the Italian tyre brand worked with Lotus vehicle dynamics engineers in the car’s development period.
Not so good The optional sports pack which adds a button for even more instant throttle response, a more forgiving stability-control setting and upgraded brakes might as well be standard equipment.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The Lotus Evora could well be the ultimate driver’s car on sale today for under $150k (in terms of steering, vehicle dynamics etc) yet is still livable on a day to day basis, being far quieter and more comfortable than any other Lotus. Standard safety features include dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control. The central aluminium tub of the Evora also acts as a super strong safety cell.
Not so good No side airbags are offered (not even as an option) and for the asking price the Lotus Evora is a little light on features. Lotus could argue that more features adds more weight which goes against the principle of a lightweight sports car. Most options are only available in bundled option packs and the cost of the 2 rear seats is a significant $7k over the 2 seat only grade.