In total, 60% of the car’s parts are new. It has an all-new nose and tail styling, the cabin is completely redesigned and major modifications have been made to the extruded aluminium chassis tub which now offers greatly improved cabin access. The car’s dynamics have been refined, high-speed downforce has been improved and kerb weight has been cut by 22kg.
Sales for 2014-2015 are already up 63% year on year and are on target to beat the first-year mark of 2000 cars set by Gales.
Lotus is so confident of the Evora 400’s enhanced appeal that it is creating two production lines at Hethel (separating the Elise/Exige line and that of the Evora) and hiring an extra 150 production workers. This all forms part of a plan to lift production from the current 45 cars a week to around 70 by September, while incorporating a 10% cut in build times in order to feed a worldwide increase in dealers from the present 168 to more than 200 by the year’s end.
Gales calls the Evora 400 “a true supercar for today whose looks and performance can only be matched by cars costing much more”. He cites as evidence the 400’s compact dimensions, luxurious new interior, 186mph top speed and 0-60mph time of 4.1sec. Its Hethel lap time of 1min 32sec now equals that of the Exige S, the lap record holder in the current range.
These revisions are the first major changes to the Evora since its launch at the British motor show in 2008. The revised exterior adds 30mm to the overall length but contributes (with lighter seats and wheels) to the lower kerb weight.
The cooling apertures are larger and the front spoiler, rear wing and diffuser have been redesigned to double the downforce at 150mph. There’s no increase in frontal area, but the extra vents and downforce slightly increase the drag coefficient from 0.33 to 0.35.
The Toyota-sourced V6 gets a bigger supercharger and a more efficient intercooler, both fitted by Lotus, plus improvements to its engine management and a three-inch exhaust tailpipe with a driver-activated valve that reduces back pressure (and sharpens the exhaust note) at higher speeds.
Modifications to the six-speed manual version’s powertrain include a new clutch and a lighter flywheel to smooth out gearshifts, while the optional six-speed automatic gearbox (which costs £2000) gets a new, sportier shift strategy and an elegant pair of column-mounted shift paddles. Selectable combinations of traction control and chassis stability functions give the choice of Drive, Sport and Race modes.
The biggest cabin news is a much-needed improvement to access and space. The chassis sills are now 43mm narrower and 56mm lower, footwell space is widened and door inners are thinner and lighter, giving occupants similar space and convenience to rivals, with no degradation in chassis rigidity.
Lighter front bucket seats each save 6kg and are more supportive, while occasional rear seats are also wider and lighter, while saving a further 3.4kg. There is an all-new fascia design incorporating the familiar instrument binnacle but with clearer graphics, and a new ventilation and air conditioning system. Lotus will offer a choice of three different trim levels with a luxurious full-leather edition at the top of the range.
Gales said: "The Evora 400 is the fastest road-going Lotus that we have ever produced. It delivers supercar looks allied to supercar performance and our global dealer network of 179 dealers which will grow to 200 by the end of the year is excited to be able to deliver this high performing benchmark handling supercar to the ever growing customer waiting list.”
Autocar talks to Lotus boss Jean-Marc Gales
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