Evora - First Test Drive

Discussion in 'European Cars' started by NeoGoatboy, May 8, 2009.

  1. #1 NeoGoatboy, May 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Artical from Pistonheads.co.uk

    Lotus and four seaters don’t have the happiest of histories. From the wedges of the 1970s and ’80s through to the last four-seat Lotus, the Excel, the Norfolk squad has never really managed to combine carting about four people with its core philosophy of minimal weight. Now we have the Evora, Lotus’ first all-new car since the launch of the Elise more than 13 years ago and currently the world’s only mid-engined, four-seat sports car.

    There will be a two-seat version of the Evora as an entry-level model, but Lotus expects most buyers to opt for the four-seater that was presented at the car’s rain sodden launch in Scotland. Lotus boss Mike Kimberley says: ‘This is the most important car for Lotus since the Elise was first launched. It stays true to our design values and we see it very much as the next step for existing Lotus owners as they move up and through our range.’

    What this means is Lotus wants to hang on to customers who have done the Elise thing and usually head to a Porsche showroom for their next fix. To this end, the Evora inevitably attracts a lot of comparisons with the Porsche Cayman, but a more apt rival is the 911 as it also tries to offer a modicum of practicality alongside a hefty dollop of performance and handling prowess. Looked at in this way, the Evora emerges as an intriguing choice and pushes Lotus into a territory it hasn’t occupied since the Esprit bit the dust.

    Can Lotus live in this rarefied atmosphere of fifty grand-plus motors when it’s been used to selling lightweight, no frills sports cars and track day toys for so long?

    First impressions are spot on. The Evora exudes the simple, clean profile that exemplifies Lotus. There are plenty of detail touches that set it well apart from other small British manufacturers and show that the styling department at Lotus is every bit as able as the men in brown coats from the engineering shop. It’s a clean, lithe look in the flesh that makes the Noble M15 look slab-sided and certainly elevates Lotus as worthy of comparison with Porsche.

    Underneath the pert bodywork lies a new bonded aluminium chassis tub that shares nothing but its inspiration with the Elise. Lotus is very definite about pointing out that the Evora is an all-new car and not a derivation of the Elise. So there.

    Peerless structural stiffness is a given, but what’s more impressive with the Evora’s chassis is it manages this without demanding the driver be a contortionist to fit in the car in the way an Elise does. Open the low weight door and you simply slide into the driver’s seat and get snug. Getting into the rear seats is a different matter altogether. The front seats tilt forward, but the amount of space provided for clambering into the back is minimal and even tiny tots and the seriously short of leg will still find it cramped. Then there’s the negligible window area for those in the rear. Add it up and the Evora doesn’t really cope as a four-seater, even one that tries to get round this by calling itself a 2+2. Still, the bench provides a useful amount of extra storage space to supplement the small boot behind the engine bay.

    In the front, the driving position is surprisingly high-set, though this is no bad thing for comfort and vision through the broad front windscreen. As for rearward vision, the tiny screen at the back gives just enough of a picture in the rear view mirror to monitor what’s going on behind.

    Lotus has put a lot of effort into the Evora’s cabin, mixing materials, shapes and finishes to get away from the bare bones Elise and offer something to tempt people out of Porsches and BMWs. The first 450 Evoras built will come laden with the Tech (£2450), Premium (£2450) and Sport (£950) packs, as well as Xenon headlights and a reversing camera. The Tech pack brings an Alpine stereo with touchscreen display to work the satellite navigation, while cruise control and rear parking sensors are also included. Tick the box for the Premium pack and leather covers the seats and just about every other surface, though this didn’t stop some of the trim coming loose in the car we drove. Quite why a Lotus should need a Sports pack is mystifying, but go for it and you’ll have a button that switches between the normal setting and one with enhanced throttle response and that ups the rev limit by 400rpm to 7000rpm. This pack also provides a titanium exhaust, cross drilled brakes, diffuser and engine oil cooler to appeal to buyers who fancy some track day action.

    Speaking of the engine, the 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 is donated from Toyota in the same way the Elise uses a four-cylinder motor from the same source. Lotus has come up with its own ECU electronics for the engine to give it quicker responses and a rortier edge. However, you can take the engine out of a Toyota but you can’t take the Toyota out of the engine. It is relentlessly efficient, delivering a seamless and linear power band that has plenty of low-down urge that builds easily and calmly to a peak as the change lights flicker inside the rev counter.

    There’s a definite added urgency to the engine as it gets above 4000rpm, but there isn’t quite the howl and yowl from the V6 to denote this is a car that cracks 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and tops out at 162mph. Yes, it sounds good, but there isn’t the tingle in the spine you get from a Cayman at full chat. However, the six-speed gearbox in the Evora has well spaced ratios that mix hard driving and cruising with aplomb. There’s also the option of a sports ratio gearbox for £1450 that shortens the upper four gears so that sixth in this ’box becomes equivalent to fifth in a standard car’s gearbox.

    Pressing on through the murk of the early Scottish summer, we didn’t find ourselves wishing for the sports gearbox. Instead, we were mightily impressed with the flexibility of the gears and engine, using third and fourth for most occasions to dispatch overtaking or the few straights that join up the spaghetti of corners in this part of the world. We were also impressed with the Evora’s refinement when cruising, with road, wind and engine noise all given their marching orders to prove that the Evora is more than up to the task of providing owners with realistic everyday transport.

    Back to the corners and what the Evora does best. Yes, it’s a Lotus and it engages corners with the kind of poise and precision that almost every other car maker in the world can only wonder at. Light-ish weight – the Evora tips the scales at 1382kg with 61% leaning on the rear wheels – and supple suspension come together in what must be the

    most accomplished ride and handling balance of any car in this class. Lump-addled roads are caressed by the Evora’s suspension to allow incredible levels of grip in bends, and this is complemented by steering with the sort of feel, weight and accuracy that tells the driver all he or she needs to know without it ever becoming flighty. The only fault we can find here is the reach and rake adjustment for the Evora’s steering wheel which doesn’t work with the same fluid action as a Porsche’s, and frankly this is nit-picking on a grand scale.

    Finding other nits to pick with the way the Evora drives turns up almost nothing. The gear shift from first to second felt a little truculent and needed a firm, deliberate hand to guide it home in the car we tested, and there’s not a huge amount of room for the driver’s right arm. Other than that, the only criticism we can come up with is the pedals are offset to the centre of the Evora due to the front wheelarch, but it’s something we soon got used.

    We can’t even moan that the Evora delivers such an inspiring drive at the expense of economy or the environment. Combined consumption is a claimed 32.5mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 205g/km compare very well against the Evora’s rivals. With a 60-litre fuel tank, the Lotus also has a respectable 400-mile range between fills.

    So, the Evora has everything needed to survive and thrive at the upper end of the sports car market. Superb performance, handling, comfort and build quality that, in the most part, appears up to the job. Just as well, as the Evora starts at £47,500 for the 2+0 two-seater and £49,875 for the 2+2 that’s expected to be the big seller. Okay, so Lotus hasn’t managed to come up with a four-seater with which it can lay to rest its uneasy past with family-friendly sports cars, but it doesn’t really matter. The Evora is sensational to drive and puts Lotus firmly back among the big players.
  2. #3 NeoGoatboy, May 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Car and Driver review

    There are few greater automotive thrills than hurling a Lotus Elise down a bendy back road—or around a racetrack. But it’s almost not fair to compare the intense and delightful responses of the Elise or the related Exige to other street cars because, with curb weights that hover around 2000 pounds, there aren’t really any other street cars like them.

    Bigger, but No Less Special

    As you likely already know, that’s where the Evora comes in. It’s massively larger than the Elise—21.9 inches longer, with a 10.9-inch stretch in the wheelbase—which puts it on par with other sports cars such as the Porsche 911 and Cayman. The Evora is roughly five inches shorter than the 911 but still manages to squeeze in similarly sized (i.e. tiny) back seats that are designed to fit very small adults or children up to about 10 years old. It also has a narrower door sill and a 2.5-inch-higher seating position, making it far easier to get in and out, which is one of the Elise’s setbacks. Two six-foot-plus males can sit in comfort without their shoulders touching, which is inevitable in an Elise. In fact, this six-foot-five driver didn’t even have to put the front seat back all the way to get comfortable.

    Back seat or not, the Evora is still very much a Lotus in the driver-thrill department. As with the company’s other cars, the steering is absolutely brilliant. The Evora has hydraulic power assist as opposed to the unassisted racks of other Lotuses, but the magic still comes through. In fact, the Lotus guys are so fanatical about steering feel that the Evora has a magnesium steering wheel in order to reduce weight—and therefore inertia—so that the driver is informed of every last road nuance. The weighting is perfect, and the constant subtle feedback that comes through the thin, flat-bottom wheel is superb without making the car feel nervous or twitchy.

    More than Just Power

    The Evora is planted and secure, yet picks apart corners with a light and playful feel that always makes mid-engine cars feel so special—think Ferrari F430, only with better steering. The Evora’s handling is so natural and fluid that you get the sense it actually enjoys being pushed. Braking is similarly spectacular, with immediate bite and extremely linear behavior. Despite weighing about 100 pounds less than a 911, the Evora wears 13.8-inch front brakes that are larger than the Porsche’s. Lotus says they’ve been designed to easily shrug off track use.

    While not necessarily a straight-line rocket—a Nissan 370Z will keep up in the quarter-mile dash—it isn’t as though the Evora is wanting for a bunch of additional power, and that’s not what any Lotus is about, anyway. The Toyota-sourced V-6 is responsive and has a nice mid-range induction growl—Lotus routes a tube from the intake to the cabin to enhance the noise—and it sings a sophisticated but fairly subtle roar in the 5000–7000 rpm range. In fact, this is as loud as Lotus could make it in order to pass strict European noise regulations. U.S. cars get a slightly louder exhaust. A benefit of the, shall we say, responsible level of horsepower is impressive fuel economy numbers. Based on European ratings, the Evora could return as high as a 911-bettering 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway in EPA testing.

    Start Saving Now

    Initially the Evora will be offered only with a six-speed manual, but Toyota’s six-speed automatic transmission will be on the options list for 2011. Don’t worry—as with the engine, the autobox will be completely reprogrammed by Lotus. The Evora goes on sale imminently in Europe, but won’t be available in the U.S. until early 2010, and the critical pricing decision has yet to be made. Current exchange rates would put the Evora at $75,000 or so, which is practically on top of the Porsche 911 and more than $10,000 higher than the price of a Cayman S. That may be a tough sell for some. But the sales volumes will be supercar-like, which means your neighbor—or anyone else on your drive to work—is not likely to have one, and the level of driver feedback is unsurpassed in the “real-car” realm. That’s enough for us.
  3. #4 NeoGoatboy, May 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016

    Here it is at last: the longed-for Lotus which takes all the lessons that Hethel has learned from the rule-changing Elise over 13 years, and combines them with a superb 276bhp 3.5-litre Toyota-sourced V6 in a bigger mid-engined package to make a genuinely refined long-distance high-performance sports car.

    The new Lotus Evora is also the world’s one-and-only mid-engined 2+2, and it takes Lotus directly into Porsche Cayman territory, even if, at its proposed 2000 cars-a-year volume, the British car will always be by far the more exclusive of the pair.

    It occupies the middle position in Lotus’s proposed three-tier model structure, which aims eventually (when there’s a new Esprit supercar and the Elise has been renewed) to extend total production volumes beyond 5000 units a year.

    If the Evora has one secret weapon it is efficiency; it combines 160mph performance and sub-5.0sec 0-60mph acceleration with low C02 numbers (205g/km) and 30mpg real-world fuel consumption. The entry price, both for the pure two-seater and the most basic 2+2 is just below £50,000, but the extra gadgetry and equipment packs of the first 450 launch cars will push that tag into the upper £50k arena.

    What's it like?
    A few parts are disappointing. Most parts are as good as you’d expect from Lotus. Some parts are utterly brilliant. The Evora is as compact-looking coupe that makes a Porsche Boxster look big and wide, but its clever packaging and long wheelbase allow it to carry small people (realistically, children up to about 10 years old) in the back.

    It has an all-new monocoque chassis which uses the bonded aluminium principles hatched in the Elise and refined in Lotus’s VVA (Variable Vehicle Architecture) system. Hethel engineers make a special issue of the Evora's stiffness, more than two-and-a-half times that of an Elise.

    That helps cut noise and deliver the ultra-accurate steering and suspension geometry needed for Lotus-level handling precision. The forged alloy suspension is by double wishbones all-round (with sophisticated dual-path top mounts to reduce noise) and the rack and pinion steering has hydraulic power assistance.

    The 3.5-litre V6 (it gets bespoke engine electronics by Lotus that include a dash-mounted sport button which offers the driver a zestier throttle response and, when requested, an extra 400rpm on top of the usual 6600rpm allowed) is specially mated by them to a six-speed stick-shift manual gearbox. The motor sits transversely across the car, just behind a 55-litre fuel tank.

    On the road the Evora delivers the huge cornering grip, sensitive but uncorrupted steering, powerful brakes and close-to-zero body roll that you’d expect from the Elise/Exige’s grown-up sibling, along with a smooth, quick-reacting engine that delivers subdued race sounds, especially over 4200rpm, where the variable inlet tract tunes itself for top-end performance. Around a track, this car will undoubtedly be brilliant.

    However, the major surprise is the Evora's suitability for day-long journeys; the creamy torque of the engine, the way the suspension quietly absorbs bumps and suppresses the coarse surfaces so often found in rural Scotland, the rock-like rigidity of the chassis and the richness of its cabin trim and equipment are all new areas for Lotus. This is a car truly suitable for a week's all-roads European grand touring, the first of the marque to achieve it.

    The disappointments? Despite the honesty of the materials (what looks like leather is leather) there are signs in the fit and finish that Lotus is still learning about trimming cars at this level. Some of the minor switchgear is awkwardly sited and doesn’t function positively enough, and there are annoying reflections in the left side of the instrument binnacle that you’d never find in a Porsche. But none of these things overshadows the Evora's core excellence.

    Should I buy one?
    Absolutely, if your priority is driving fulfilment. You’ll get that, whether you want to swap lap times with your friends at Castle Combe, or drive to Rome with a close friend. The Evora’s great in all modes, and can carry the gear you’ll need for either activity. There’s a completeness in its chassis development that surely matches Porsche (Steve Sutcliffe will expand further on this when this road test is updated later today) plus a unique brand of Hethel-bred sensitivity and stability.

    What is more, the Evora will always be more exclusive than any Porsche, and several types of Ferraris. It will be as special on the road as it feels behind the wheel. The near-£50k price may present a hurdle to early buyers, but a good, long drive in the car should turn this obstacle into a modest bump in the road.
  4. #5 NeoGoatboy, May 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    And the most important one, Jeremy Clarksons review:

    Honda announced recently that it’s to stop making the drophead, two-seater S2000. And since this has always been my favourite small sports car, I thought I’d borrow one and go for one last, tearful drive.

    God, it was horrible. There wasn’t enough room for even small parts of me to get comfortable. The digital instruments looked like they had come straight from a Nik Kershaw video. The plastics would have looked shoddy on an Ethiopian’s wheelie bin. It was as sparsely equipped as an Amish barn. And the noise. It was hip-hop horrendous. Conversation was impossible. Thought was impossible. It was the kind of relentless drone that, after a while, can drive a man mad.

    So how come I used to love this car so much? It’s not like I’m talking here about meeting up with an old girlfriend. The Honda has not become fat and frumpy. It isn’t pushing a pram or wearing tweed instead of miniskirts. It’s not now married to a golfer called Colin. It’s exactly the same now as it was in 2005. And 2005 is not that long ago.

    Except of course, in automotive terms, 2005 is somewhere between the big bang and the Norman conquests. And what was acceptable then — heavy steering, no sat nav, religious persecution and dinosaurs — is not acceptable any more.

    Cars are not getting faster or more economical. But in terms of refinement and comfort, they are a country mile better than the cars you could buy as recently as a week ago last Tuesday. (Unless you have a Peugeot.)

    This is great for us but it’s a big problem for Britain’s small car makers. Because in the olden days (1994), when all cars exploded every few minutes, you could have a Lotus or a TVR or a Morgan and it wasn’t that much different.

    Today, though, as the big car companies churn out cars that have no transmission whine and never break down — Peugeot excepted — the offerings from a small car company look as out of date as a ruff. This is because small car companies have no robots. There isn’t the money for relentless testing of every component in every corner of the world. The car must be designed on an Amstrad and put together by a man in a brown store-coat. And saying a car is hand-built is just another way of saying the glove box lid won’t shut properly.

    Take the Lotus Elise. It squeaks. It rattles. It drones. It vibrates. It’s hard to get into and impossible to get out of. It’s badly equipped and hard to operate. All of this might have been acceptable 13 years ago when the Elise first came out and it might be acceptable today if it were the last word in zip and vigour.

    But it isn’t. Compared with even a Golf, it feels old and slow and understeery. It’s a 20th-century car in a 21st-century world where last Friday is already last year. And the last new car Lotus made, the Europa, was even worse.

    That’s why I wasn’t looking forward to driving the new Evora. I knew it would smell of glue, give me cramp and fall to pieces, because Lotus, up there in the turnips, simply doesn’t have the sort of bang on, bang up to date production line that makes modern mass-produced cars such engineering marvels (except Peugeots, obviously).

    I was in for a bit of a shock. No. I was in for a lot of a shock. I was in for so much of a shock, in fact, I had to have a little lie down.

    First of all, the bad news. Because it was designed on an Amstrad in someone’s mum’s bedroom, there are mistakes. All you can see in the windscreen is a reflection of the dashboard and all you can see on the ancillary dials is a reflection of whatever weather happens to be prevailing at the time.

    What’s more, the buttons are all carefully placed to ensure you can neither see nor find them. And even if you do, they have plainly been labelled by someone who was mad, or four.

    Then you have the Alpine sat nav cum multimedia interface wotsit in the dash. Why didn’t Lotus develop its own box of tricks instead of fitting one that’s designed for youths in Citroën Saxos? Simple. It didn’t have the resources.

    And so, you get a system that speaks. And what it says is: “You are breaking the speed limit”, every time you go near the throttle. This is very annoying, but happily there is a solution. Because it speaks only once, at the moment you stray over the limit, you should accelerate as quickly as possible to beyond the speed limit and then stay there all day.

    The other solution is to turn it off. Which is impossible. Because I’m 49. And a man. So I won’t look things up in instruction books. Or listen to my wife, who said she knew how. Because I know best.

    As you can see, then, the Evora features many things to cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth. So the car would have to be very good or very cheap to make those problems worth tolerating. And here’s the thing. It’s both. The 3.5-litre Toyota V6 is not the most powerful engine in the world but it’s smooth — and refined — and the power it produces is delightfully seamless. There’s no sudden savagery. No “Oh my God, I’m going to crash now”. It’s brilliant.

    So’s the packaging. Normally, a mid-engined four-seater car looks all wrong. The Ferrari Mondial springs to mind here. But the Evora is bang on. It really is a genuine surprise when you’ve studied the nicely proportioned exterior to find there are two seats in the back. And a dribble of legroom, too, provided the driver isn’t too tall.

    And speaking of tall, the front is a revelation. I could get in easily. I could get out without crawling. Inside, I didn’t even need to have the seat fully back. Anyone up to 6ft 7in is going to fit in an Evora and that alone makes it special.

    Especially when I tell you the boot, which is at the back, where it should be, is big enough for two sets of golf clubs.

    So, the driving. Sadly, I didn’t have much chance to really push it — the weather was horrendous and time was tight — but I put in enough miles to know this car has great steering and handles well. Of course it does. It’s a Lotus. And because it’s a Lotus, it’ll crash and jar and lurch from pothole to speed bump.

    Wrong. It simply glided over absolutely everything a torrential rainstorm and Britain’s B roads could throw at it. There is no other mid-engined supercar that has ever been so compliant. Or refined. Or quiet. It’s amazing. It doesn’t feel like it was made in a shed in Norfolk. It feels like it was made yesterday, by a machine.

    The Evora, then, is not a car you buy because it’s a Lotus and you have always fancied one. It’s a car you buy because you want a comfortable, practical, mid-engined supercar and no one else makes such a thing. Not Ferrari. Not Lamborghini. Not anyone.

    As I wafted from corner to corner, gradually forgetting about the smell of the glue they used to hold the chassis together, and the reflections, and the silly sat nav, I started guessing how much this car might cost. I reckoned on somewhere around £60,000. I was wrong. It’s less than 50.

    And that’s what makes this the most modern car of them all. It’s the first to come to the market with a deflationary price tag.

    The Clarksometer

    Lotus Evora 2+2

    Engine 3456cc, six cylinders

    Power 276bhp @ 6400rpm

    Torque 252 lb ft @ 4700rpm

    Transmission Six-speed manual

    Fuel 32.5mpg (combined cycle)

    CO2 205g/km

    Acceleration 0-60mph: 4.9sec

    Top speed 162mph

    Price £49,875

    Road tax band K (£215 a year)

    On sale Now
  5. Is this the same Jeremy Clarkson who posts dry condition laptimes and wet condition laptimes in a single list as if to imply that it's somehow scientific to compare a 550 driving through puddles with a Noble on bone-dry pavement?

    The same Jeremy Clarkson who accelerated a Corvette from a standstill in 6th gear and then creamed his pants when it finally reached 180mph?

    He's a great entertainer for sure, and his taste in cars is pretty spot on, but I somehow doubt that even he considered himself a serious authority.

  6. it looks worse to me now than it did before.
  7. Would take over a Cayman S.
  8. ha yea i agree on that too
  9. Maybe a 911S.

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