Lotus is one of those rare brand success stories in which a company has been able to take itself from near extinction and redefine itself as a top sports-car manufacturer. The company came from humble beginnings in an old stable behind a set of North London Railroad tracks acting as a factory. As time moved on different subsidiaries have been formed and focused on different aspects of the business between Formula racing and road-car production.
Even when the Bugatti ownership was switched to private owner, Proton, in 1994 things were less exciting than ever. The Esprit S4 and V8 models would be the only real production models that Lotus had for the next decade. The Esprit had many great qualities to it, but in essence, it had been around since its original design in 1976.
The company was desperately in need of something to help change its image. In 2004, the Lotus Elise was approved for sale in the United States and was made available as a 2005 model. These series 2 models were compact, light, nimble, and a blast to drive through an S-curve. It turned out to be exactly the type of success that Lotus was looking for and opened the door for future new models.
Details on the Lotus Evora after the jump.
Lotus has managed to produce a bigger and more luxurious car without losing the sleek exterior lines of the Elise. If we were to put the two models next to one another than, we could immediately recognize the family resemblance - two low-slung two seaters looking rather alien in such a boring world. The cars share signature oval Lotus grills and headlights, just on a slightly larger scale for the Evora. More rounded fenders and hood features make the Evora slightly less edgy than the rest of the lineup.
The exterior designer, Russell Carr states,” A cornerstone of the design’s success was working closely with the technical team to develop a package that allowed us to get the proportions correct," says Head of Design Russell Carr, "The asymmetric wheel sizes, the short rear overhang, long front overhang and cab forward visor screen all contribute to giving the car visual movement and an agile stance. This is incredibly important to us because we want the car’s aesthetics to communicate its driving characteristics".
Other than making the entirety of the car culminate in one cohesive package, the designers were also aware of the brand’s desire to expand within the market. The two-seater Elise and Exige models are comparable to the original Mini Cooper and clown cars in size and usability. They are meant for the customer that wants the ultimate uninhibited driving experience inside and out. The Evora needed things like a full trunk, more forgiving suspension, and higher ground clearance in order to live in the real-world full of potholes and Chevrolet Suburbans . It’s not perfect and no one in their right mind would put groceries in a trunk that has to be specially cooled so that the engine does not melt the contents – but you get the idea.
The new chassis for the Evora may be the most impressive piece of technology. It features a design that allows different sections to be completely removed and even replaced if necessary. Owning exotic cars can be a pricey hobby, but this Lotus will help to keep repair costs lower than most, especially if an accident takes place. Even with a multiple piece chassis, the Evora maintains a tight feel around the track. Nimble steering and handling let this car move around a road course much easier than any of its competition. It seems as though the Lotus philosophy of small and lightweight cars has paid off once again as the Evora fits nicely placed right above the Elise.
When compared to the Elise, which was a bare bones racer, the Evora has an interior fit for a king. On the other hand, when compared to the Porsche Boxster or Cayman , it falls short of the overall level of fit and finish necessary to compete in this price category. Perhaps Lotus was attempting to simply dress up the interior with some nice touches and not truly create a luxury sports car, but we think they have simply been out of practice when it comes to creating a luxury feel.
One drawback of the Elise was the ungraceful entry and exit from the car due to small door openings and the tight confines inside; this has been improved upon for the Evora. The car is for all intents and purposes a two-seater, but can be had with a backseat for children. Lotus may have had more room for the interior if the engine had been pushed back behind or over the rear axle thereby deleting the trunk. Lotus has included some aftermarket pieces as well as the navigation system that looks like it was bought and installed at a local Best Buy. The system does work well, but the controls will take some time to get used to. Other switchgear inside the car is ergonomically placed around the driver and buttons are finished in a stainless steel that looks clean.
For the 2012 model year, Lotus decided some minor updates for the exterior were in order, but their main focus was completely redesigning the interior. The cabin was deisgned by German firm, CSI and received additional leather on the door panels and lower sills. The Recaro seats were also updated with some cosmetic changes, while the dashboard received some new contrasting colors. The Evora now comes with a new superior system from Pioneer replacing the old Alpine audio/navigation system.
The Lotus Evora has not been fully tested for crash safety, but does feature many safety systems.
|Safety & Security|
|Child Seat Anchors|
|Remote Anti-theft System|
|Emergency Brake Assist|
|Ventilated Brake Discs|
|Daytime Running Lights|
|Passenger Airbag Deactivation Switch|
|Electronic Brake Force Distribution|
Instead of Lotus further developing the Elise engine or creating a whole new platform, a transversely mounted Toyota 2GR-FE VVT-I engine sits behind the rear seats. It does make this Lotus a proper mid-engine sports car, but when you realize that is the same engine powering the Toyota Camry, one starts to ask some questions. It seems as though Lotus engineers have done a good job including some performance pieces such as a racing flywheel as well as integrating a Toyota transmission from a diesel model.
As soon as you hit the pedal all questions are answered and the Evora gets off the line quickly. Its 276hp at 6,400rpm and 258 lb-ft. of torque at 4,700rpm gets the car moving to 60mph in 4.9 seconds. The new 2011 Evora S model features a supercharged version of the same engine and produces 345hp at 7,000rpm and 295 lb-ft. of torque at 4,500rpm – making the sprint to 60mph in 4.6 seconds. Lotus has been able to make these extra ponies count by changing the suspension and transmission setups. The “Sport” button allows the Lotus to raise revs more freely and disengage stability control interference when having fun on the track.
Considering that the Evora is a model meant to be less hardcore than the Elise it also makes sense that Lotus would introduce some comfort features. For customers that like the look of the Evora, but want a less involving driving experience can now opt for an automatic transmission. Lotus calls it the IPS or Intelligent Precision Shift transmission. It still features a “Sport” button, but can only make it to 60mph in 5.3 seconds. Overall the Evora is meant to show people what Lotus is capable of doing and what will be coming from the designers in the future. Most likely this means a new Esprit model in the coming years that will be a true flagship with the Evora eventually fitting into the middle of the range.
Both models have similar top end numbers reaching 162 and 172mph respectively. Being able to achieve good sports car performance and maintain a 27mpg rating on the highway is impressive for a car weighing in at 3,164lbs.
Pricing and Packages
Pricing for the Evora begins at $64,000 and it is currently on sale in the United States.
When thinking about your dream Evora consider one of the three major options packages. The Sports Package offers changed shift mapping for better response, traction control with increased yaw and slip thresholds, cross-drilled brakes and exterior enhancements such as a diffuser and Titanium exhaust tip. Those looking for a little more luxury can opt for the Premium Package. It features accent lighting, Evora logo’s on the dash, your choice of leather color on the seats and leather trimmed dash, door panels, footwell side panels and center console. The most expensive option package is the Technology package that includes the full array of stereo enhancements. Larger and more powerful speakers, Alpine head-unit, USB iPod connection, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise-control and rear parking sensors are all part of this package.
|Sports Ratio 6-speed Gearbox||$1,500|
|Power Folding Mirrors||$$450|
|Stealth Grey Cast Alloy Wheels||$475|
|Silver Forged Alloy Wheels||$1,750|
|Anthracite Forged Alloy Wheels||$2,125|
The Porsche Cayman provides the best platform to compare with the Evora. Both models are a step up from their respective companies entry-level selections and both have similar performance. It seems as though Lotus has beaten the base Cayman in nearly every performance category by outgunning the Porsche’s 276hp and 5.5 second 0-60mph times. An Evora S in terms of horsepower and speed beats even the mighty Cayman R model.
For some, there is no substitute for a Porsche, but for those looking for something different and exotic, the Evora delivers.