2017 Lotus Evora 400 Roadster
Lotus was in big trouble a couple of years ago, struggling with net losses of more than $250 million a year. That’s when Jean-Marc Gales stepped in as CEO and the British finally began to move in the right direction. Gales’ new strategy included a redesign of the Evora, which allowed Lotus to continue its operations on U.S. soil. Now, only a few months before the new 2016 Lotus Evora 400 goes on sale nationwide, Gales confirmed there’s also a roadster version on the way.
The convertible sports car will cross the pond to the U.S. six months after the coupe, which means a launch date is expected sometime in June 2016. When it arrives, the Evora 400 Roadster will join a market that already includes two remarkable sports cars, the 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder and the 2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, both newly introduced for the 2016 model year. As it stands, Lotus won’t have it easy, but despite rough competition, Gales still hopes the new roadster will be as popular as the coupe.
There aren’t many official details to run by here, but the car is not much of a mystery. Moreover, Gales was kind enough to provide just about enough info on the Roadster to allow us to put together a rendering of the car, as well as a speculative review on what it might bring to the table.
Continue reading for the full story.
2017 Lotus Evora 400 Roadster
0-60 time:4.3 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:186 mph (Est.)
As Jean-Marc Gales revealed recently, the Evora 400 Roadster will feature a two-piece, Targa-style carbon-fiber roof that can be stowed behind the seats. It’s safe to assume the roadster will be identical to the coupe except for the roof.
Usually convertibles are heavier than their coupe counterparts as they require extra reinforcing, but the lightweight roof should make up for that.
As you probably noticed in the rendering above, the Roadster will sport every design update introduced with the new Evora 400, including the more aggressive front end with large vents and LED running lights, revised taillights, a more pronounced, three-piece spoiler, and larger diffuser.
The coupe’s new bodywork also accounts for low drag (Cd rating of 0.33) and enhanced downforce (up to 70.5 pounds at 150 mph), but these figures are likely to change a bit for the Roadster. Speaking of numbers, the carbon roof means that the Roadster’s weight might be similar to the coupe’s, which is 48 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
Usually convertibles are heavier than their coupe counterparts as they require extra reinforcing, but the lightweight roof should make up for that. Also, because they don’t use retraction mechanisms for the roof, Targa-style roadsters are genarally lighter than conventional drop-tops.
Note: Lotus Evora 400 interior shown.
The interior of the Roadster should also be identical to the coupe’s. This is no surprise in any case, but since Lotus has yet to recover completely from its recent financial downturn, a huge surprise wouldn’t be a good idea.
Look for the same sporty cockpit with two-tone dashboard and door panels, narrow center console, and flat-bottom steering wheel.
Look for the same sporty cockpit with two-tone dashboard and door panels, narrow center console, and flat-bottom steering wheel. There’s also a set of revised gauges with black dials, new transmission buttons for the autobox, and a new infotainment system.
Other enhancements include lowered and narrower doors sills for better access to the interior, and revised front seats that are 6.6 pounds lighter than the previous ones. Most surfaces are now swathed in Scottish leather and high-grade Alcantara.
Similarities to the coupe extend to the drivetrain department as well, as the Roadster will use the exact same engine and transmission.
The mill is Lotus' familiar supercharged, 3.5-liter V-6 tuned to generate 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, a 55-horsepower and 7-pound-feet improvement over the Evora S.
The mill is Lotus’ familiar supercharged, 3.5-liter V-6 tuned to generate 400 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque, a 55-horsepower and 7-pound-feet improvement over the Evora S. The oomph travels to the ground through either a six-speed manual transmission with a standard limited-slip differential or an optional automatic.
The Roadster will also feature a traction control system with three settings (Drive, Sport, and Race) and a switchable exhaust system that allows the drivers to select between two modes.
This combo enables the Evora 400 to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds and up to a top speed of 186 mph. These numbers may drop to 4.2 ticks and 180 mph for the Roadster. Should this be the case, the drop-top would still be two tenths of a second quicker than the previous Evora S.
In the suspension department, the Roadster will get the coupe’s revised and lightened underpinnings. Speaking of lighter components, the new Evora 400 also features a set of forged aluminum wheels (measuring 19 inches up front and 20 inches at the rear) that are lighter by 7.3 pounds each. The new rims are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. Stopping power comes from two-piece, cross-drilled brake discs.
Since the Evora 400 Roadster won’t arrive in U.S. dealerships until mid-2016, there’s no pricing information for this model as of yet. However, since the coupe retails from $89,900, its safe to assume the drop-top will fetch close to $100,000 before options. Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales estimates that his company will be able to sell about 500 units a year.
Though both Lotus and Porsche go back more than half a century as sports-car manufacturers, the German brand is the more popular company now. The same goes for the Boxster, which not only sells in greater numbers, but is also available in four versions in the U.S. The range-topping Boxster Spyder is the most powerful of them and the best option against the Evora 400 Roadster.
Its 3.8-liter flat-six engine, shared with the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 and the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S, cranks out 375 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. Less power also means slower acceleration in this case, as the Spyder needs 4.3 seconds to hit 60 mph, which should be about a tenth of a second slower than the Lotus. Top speed comes in at an impressive 180 mph, making the Spyder the fastest Boxster ever produced.
Making the Boxster Spyder a better option than the Evora 400, besides heritage and brand cachet, is its more affordable sticker, set at $82,100 in the U.S.
Find out more about the Boxster Spyder in our review here.
The 4C marks Alfa Romeo’s return to building full-fledged sports cars, as well as the brand’s comeback to the U.S. Alfa’s first U.S.-spec car since 1995 comes with a turbocharged, 1,750 cc four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Though these figures make it significantly less powerful than both the Evora 400 and the Boxster Spyder, because of its low weight, the 4C is no slouch in terms of straight-line acceleration, needing only 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start.
Much like the Evora, the 4C comes with a well-equipped cockpit that still includes race-inspired features, including bare carbon-fiber surfaces and lightweight door panels. Its appeal is further enhanced by the significantly more affordable sticker, which comes in at $54,000 before options.
You can check more info about the 4C Spider here.
If you’re in a market for a compact sports car with infinite headroom, the Evora 400 Roadster might not be your first choice. And I understand that. The Boxster Spyder is hard to beat. It might not be as powerful as the Evora, but it’s a Porsche and the Spyder comes with all sorts of goodies and a design that harkens back to the race-bred 718 of the 1960s. The Boxster is likely a bit more affordable too, which isn’t exactly good news for Lotus. But does this mean the Evora 400 Roadster is a car not worth looking into?
Sure, Lotus isn’t what it used to be, but the Brits haven’t lost their touch. First and foremost, the Evora 400 is likely to deliver a lot of thrills to those looking for the ultimate driving experience. Lotus is known to focus on race-like dynamics rather than comfort, and although that philosophy may not bring a lot more customers into dealerships, it could make the Evora more appealing to gearheads. Also, the Roadster strengthens Lotus’ presence in the U.S. and shows that the Brits are willing to invest in order to remain on these shores. The Evora and Evora Roadster may be the first two of many U.S.-spec models to come from Lotus, and that’s great news no matter how you look at it.