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April 7, 2010 > Auto Review: Evora by Lotus

Auto Review: Evora by Lotus

When I say the word "Lotus" what do you think of? An early computer software system? A flower? A yoga position? Being a car guy, the first thing I think of is the classic English automobile manufacturer. However, time changes a lot of things and Lotus is now owned by a Malaysian company.

As the first all-new Lotus since 1995, the Evora enters the sports car market as the world's only mid-engine 2+2 (2+2 means it has 2 normal front seats and 2 tiny rear seats). Powered by a Lotus-tuned 3.5-liter, V-6, engine (sourced from Toyota) producing 276 HP, 252 pound feet of torque, and weighing in at just 2,976 lbs., the Evora delivers a tremendous performance package for the sports car driver.
Many of the cars manufactured by Lotus over the years have been virtual racecars with headlights and tail lights to make them street legal. They were hard riding; uncomfortable cars that may not even have had heaters or radios, but boy could they handle and go fast.

However, the Evora is designed to offer a more refined ownership experience than Lotus's existing models. Evoras offer a contemporary, hand-crafted and elegantly trimmed cabin and an equipment list including such high-tech features as an advanced touch-screen, multi-media system incorporating a state-of-the-art Alpine satellite navigation and audio system. It is definitely a car that you can live with day-to-day.

Lotus is a very small car company. To give you an idea of how small, their target is to build 34 Evoras each week. The first production Lotus Evora was delivered in the USA in March to a lucky customer in Houston.

So how did the Lotus designers and engineers do with the Evora project? I'm glad you asked. They got straight A's across their report card. First let's start with external styling, and we all know that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." At first glance, it is easy to tell that the Evora is a descendent from other current Lotus models because it has a strong family resemblance. The shape may seem out of the ordinary, but it really grew on me, and I like it.

The interior is also a home run in most areas. It is plush for a sports car with leather all over. Front seats are extremely comfortable and supportive even for tall drivers. Controls are laid out like a racecar and easy to use. Outward visibility is pretty good with some blind spots out the back. Because the Evora is a 2+2, the back seats are only for baby seats or adults that don't have legs, because the back of the front seat just about touches the back seat at almost any position. You can opt to delete the rear seats in favor of a rear parcel area. The doors are big but don't open really wide, so getting in and out is a bit of a chore, but this process is much easier than entering or exiting the other Lotus cars.

So now we are in and ready to go. Firing up the motor instantly tells you the Evora is different than other sports cars. The smooth pulse of a powerful engine is music to an enthusiast's ears. Select first gear from the 6-speed manual gearbox and we are off. With close to 300 HP the Evora can take off like a scalded cat if you want to. It will sprint from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds and top out over 160 mph. (The combined EPA estimate is 27 mpg.)

Handling is just what you would expect from Lotus. The Evora's new extruded aluminum chassis is 60 percent more rigid than the other Lotus cars, and this allows for a more compliant suspension and smoother ride without sacrificing performance. It handles like a true sports car that has a kinder, gentler ride quality.

The base price for an Evora is $73,500. Three main option groups are available. The Premium package ($1,990) adds accent lighting, a center armrest between the front seats, premium floor mats and leather trim throughout the cabin. A Sport package ($1,275) features selectable sport modes, enhanced throttle response, a higher rpm limit, a rear underbody diffuser, titanium exhaust tips and cross-drilled brake rotors with black-painted calipers. The Technology package ($2,995) includes cruise control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and an upgraded stereo with DVD playback, a 7-inch touch screen display, navigation and a USB port.

So, should you buy an Evora? It depends on what you want out of a car. If you want basic, cost effective transportation, an Evora is not for you. However, if you want to be part of a very exclusive group of automobile owners, have fun blasting around the back roads, be recognized as one who makes independent decisions, and a leader rather than a follower, you need an Evora to park in your garage.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
Member of the Motor Sports Press Association

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