What is it?
The Evora S is the car that Lotus believes is good enough to be priced above the Porsche Cayman, and only slightly beneath the basic 911 Carrera. Hence it costs £58,995 in 2+2 trim and goes on sale at the end of November.
In the simplest terms it’s a more powerful, faster version of the already excellent base Evora, the extra go arriving courtesy of a supercharged version of that car’s Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6. But in reality it is, according to Lotus, “the car we always wanted to build.” In other words the version of the Evora we’ve all been waiting for.
The headline news concerns the more powerful supercharged engine, of course, which now develops a rousing 345bhp at 7000rpm and 295lb ft at 4000rpm – enough muscle to send the 1437kg Evora S to 60mph in a claimed 4.6sec and to 172mph. But there have been improvements made throughout the rest of the car to further improve its dynamic behaviour – and, of course, to justify its £10k premium.
The most significant of these concerns the six-speed manual transmission. This remains as before internally but now features an improved shift mechanism, a lower inertia clutch, new shift cables and a redesigned pedal box to reduce pedal effort. The suspension and steering have also been preened in line with the increased performance, though not, Lotus insists, at the expense of the base car’s exquisite ride quality.
What’s it like?
In a word, brilliant. As suggested, it still rides beautifully, gliding across pockmarked surfaces as if it’s been touched by some Higher Being. It wouldn’t be a Lotus were this not so. But what you really notice, of course, is what happens when you put your foot down – because that’s when the Evora S reveals its true self. The handling and steering seem to crystallise and become even sharper, even more responsive as a result of the extra torque that’s available. After a day at the wheel of this car you realise that the Porsche Cayman is no longer quite so supreme.
In short, the supercharged Evora is one of those cars that, for whatever reason, manages to over-deliver on the sum of its parts on the road. It feels so much more than an Evora with an extra 70bhp.
Not only does it go way harder than before but it sounds, feels and IS hugely more invigorating to drive. The extra engine noise alone makes it seem like a completely different animal on the road. There are rasps and fizzes from the supercharger at low to middling revs that mingle perfectly with the deeper bass sound of the exhaust. As a combination it makes for a truly rousing soundtrack, one that provides just the right accompaniment to the increased performance. Which, by the way, is considerable.
Lotus may claim a 0-60mph time of 4.6sec and 172mph flat out, but between 4000-6000rpm it feels even faster than those numbers suggest. And, thank the lord, the gearchange – though still not squeaky clean above 6000rpm – is approximately 15,000 times better than before. It glides through the gate with a much more precise, mechanical feel, one that actually adds rather than detracts from the car’s appeal.
Even the interior has been much improved, not on the design front but, more significantly, in terms of the way it’s built. A few months ago Lotus poached some key people from Porsche’s quality control department, by all accounts, and already they are making a difference. A fairly big difference if the test car is a typical example.
Should I buy one?
Can’t see why not if you’re in the market for a £60k mid-engined sports car and are only interested in driving the very best. Even amid the bubbling excitement of what’s to come at Lotus, the Evora S is a stand out car right now, a stroke of rare genius.
And if you’re wondering then the answer’s yes; I’d have one over a Cayman any day.
Lotus Evora S
Price: £58,995; 0-60mph; 4.6sec (claimed); Top speed: 172mph (claimed); Economy: 27.7mpg (combined); CO2: 235g/km; Kerb weight: 1437kg; Engine layout: 3.5-litre V6, petrol, supercharged; Power: 345bhp at 7000rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual