The exquisite dynamics of the Lotus Evora are tuned perfectly for British B-roads and race tracks alike. Here's how to bag a good used one
9 July 2017

Porsche Cayman or Lotus Evora?

We’ve tackled the Cayman in this series and got excited about prices starting below £20,000 for the first Gen 2 cars of 2009. However, you’ll need another £10,000 to get into an early 2009/10 Evora, although it will have half the mileage of a £20,000 Cayman.

About £30k is a hefty sum, but your faith will be rewarded with a 0-62mph sprint time of less than 5.5sec, track-tuned handling and steering, and a magic-carpet ride. You’ll also net a bulletproof Toyota V6 with low running costs and two more seats than the Cayman.

In the eight years since the first Evora went on sale, no serious reliability issues have raised their head. The engines are still doing a shift, as is the Eaton supercharger on S models. The loose gearbox cables that blighted some early cars have been tweaked, and the floppy door handles have been rectified.

The interiors on well-used early examples may be looking a little tired and the front anti-roll bar bushes may be starting to knock, but that’s it.

The Evora was launched in 2009 with a mid-mounted Toyota 3.5-litre V6 producing 276bhp and 258lb ft and driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. Its three-section composite body (with easily replaceable plastic bumpers) houses a 2+2 cabin (although there are some Evoras with two seats and an extended parcel shelf) and a boot large enough for a set of golf clubs.

But you won’t want to waste time on the links when you’ve an Evora to play with. Double-wishbone suspension, Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers, brake parts by AP Racing and standard-fit Pirelli P Zeros (18in items at the front, 19s at the rear) make sure of that.

The first cars got the Launch Pack, comprising Tech (sat-nav, parking aids, cruise control), Sport (cross-drilled discs, a deeper spoiler and uprated exhaust) and Premium (extra leather, heated seats, reversing camera). All the goodies became available singly, too. Another option was a close-ratio Sport gearbox.

The following year, Lotus sprang the supercharged Evora S, wielding 345bhp and 295lb ft for a 0-60mph sprint time of 4.6sec. The Sport Pack and Sport gearbox were standard.

The Toyota-derived six-speed IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) automatic transmission arrived at the same time. Although it exacts slight penalties on performance and efficiency, it is more reliable than the trouble-prone manual, with its slack cables. Lotus fitted tighter ones and then the 2012-model-year refresh brought low-friction gear selection cables and a low-inertia flywheel.

The cabin gained the Premium Pack as standard, improved door locks, better sound deadening and a new infotainment system. Standard Evoras also gained the S’s thicker rear anti-roll bar, stiffer wishbone bushes and a more compelling exhaust note. It’s all enough to make you think twice about that Cayman. 

An expert’s view...

JAMIE MATTHEWS, BELL AND COLVILL

“The Evora is for someone looking for a performance car that’s a little bit different. Buyers are enthusiasts who are shrewd and knowledgeable. Some may be looking at a Cayman, too, but the Evora out-rides and out-handles it while being that bit more practical. The Lotus is much rarer, too.

“When looking at a used one, check the clutch for any slip and a heavy pedal, and listen for a louder-thanusual chattering sound at idle. A new clutch can cost you £3000 but they can last up to 40,000 miles. “My pick? A 2011-model-year S for around £35,000.”

Lotus Evora problems...

ENGINE

Chain-driven Toyota V6 is reliable (ditto the Eaton blower on the S) but have the ECU quizzed for any record of over-revving. Check that it has been serviced every year or 9000 miles and that exhaust mounts are sound (they were a warranty issue on early cars).

GEARBOX

On early cars, gearchange cables can stretch, become noisy and make changes difficult. Adjustment or replacement requires interior trim removal. The clutch can fail as early as 25,000 miles. Check that the IPS gearbox changes smoothly.

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES

The Evora should steer, brake and ride in true Lotus fashion. Check for signs of track abuse. Worn tyre edges could indicate crash history. A knocking at the front is worn anti-roll bar bushes.

AIR-CON CONDENSER

Early cars had issues so look for a red dot on the condenser, which indicates it was replaced under warranty. Don’t expect the air-con to blow very cold and ensure the pipes aren’t draining into the cabin.

BODY

Composite body is rust free but check that the panel gaps are straight. Door handles could give trouble but should have been repaired. If parking aids are fitted, ensure they work.

INTERIOR

Early cars were criticised for poor interior quality but this later improved. Check for worn driver’s seat side bolsters, door speakers, lower fascia and fragile leather facings on sills.

Also worth knowing...

The standard exhaust is reasonably exciting and Lotus’s optional sports system adds extra tingle. For bigger thrills, though, check out a quality aftermarket alternative. Enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards 2bular for its rortier, highquality valved or non-valved systems from £818. Its de-cat pipe is £170.

Lotus Evora prices

£29,000-£33,495

For an early 2009-2010 VVT-i (including some Launch Edition cars) with full history and less than 30k miles.

£33,500-£38,495

Mix of 2011-2013 VVT-i cars, including a main dealer’s 2013/13 car with 15k miles for £34,950; also, a 2011 S with 18k for £35,999.

£39,000-£43,500

More VVT-i cars from 2012 onwards, plus a sprinkling of S cars, including a 2013/63 S IPS with 56k miles for £39,995, a 2013/13 S with 6k miles for £41,990 and a 2014/14 S with 24k miles for £42,950.

John Evans

Our Verdict

Lotus Evora

Lotus moves upmarket with a 2+2 GT, but is the Lotus Evora an everyday car?

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Comments
5

9 July 2017
How many were actually built? And why didn't it (apparently) sell well? That would be a concern, because there's probably a good reason. Round here, I see Caymans and 911s every single day, but I've never seen a single Evora on the road.

9 July 2017
steve-p wrote:

How many were actually built? And why didn't it (apparently) sell well? That would be a concern, because there's probably a good reason. Round here, I see Caymans and 911s every single day, but I've never seen a single Evora on the road.

Because most know no better. You see the attitude in the comments section on reviews here. It's always "for that money you can get a Boxster/Cayman". Mainly from retards who've probably only ever seen one going in the opposite direction on the road, let alone actually owned one. They're good, they're made by the greatest sports car company in the world but in reality they can be a little boring.

9 July 2017
Do you mean the Evora can be a little boring? How so?

10 July 2017
No, he meant the Porsche.

10 July 2017
Anybody who chooses a Cayman over this is a bore. Fact.

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