There are three points to cover here.
Firstly, that this is our first chance to try the entry-level, two-seat 2+0 Evora.
Secondly, that since we last tried the Evora, Lotus has made a few running changes to the gearbox linkage - a weak point of the early launch cars tested last year.
And thirdly, that this is an opportunity to try the Evora cabin in its basic form, without the optional £2550 Premium Pack and the extended leather trim that it brings.
What’s it like?
Let's deal with the 2+0 first. It is, in essence, exactly the same as the 2+2 except that the rear seats are replaced with a conveniently shaped storage shelf big enough for a few bags. Meaning you get the same splendidly good sports car for £1455 less.
Ditching the seats does save a little weight, but only around 10kg, so the effect is pretty marginal. And if I’m honest, that is all you really need to know about the 2+0, as there are no changes to the engine or suspension.
The more interesting point here are the changes Lotus have made to the gearbox. These amount to increasing the stiffness of the linkage to make the shift more positive, while also reducing the inertia of the clutch by around 20 per cent to improve the shift speed at higher revs. The result, I’m sad to report, is a bit of a mixed bag.
While the gearchange is less woolly, especially fore and aft, we are not talking about a huge step forward. Overall it is still a long way from being the rifle-bolt snick-snack gearchange the Evora deserves.
However, the changes to the clutch are more successful, making the change less stubborn, particularly from first to second gear.
There is however, a flip side to the improvements: the increased stiffness of the components means more noise and vibration is transmitted through the mechanism to the cabin.
The clutch changes also mean that it also fractionally harder to balance the engine revs at the clutch biting point, leading to the occasional kangaroo start. With time I’m sure you’d learn to live with this, but I’m not so sure about the increased gearbox noise.
As is often the case in engineering, you don’t get something for nothing, and the improvements in precision and control have to be traded against less isolation, but in this case I don’t feel the improvements go far enough. And the trade-off is too great.
Don’t get me wrong, the Evora it is still a cracking car to drive, and is still much quieter and more comfortable than any other Lotus, but when the boys from Hethel said they’d improved the gearchange I was hoping for more.
The news from the cabin is more uniformly positive. Resisting the temptation of the Premium pack does mean there is no choice of colour for the leather – it is black only – and you are denied the opportunity of the two-tone interior, but there is still plenty of leather. And those areas not covered in cow (mostly low down in the cabin) are finished in a not-unattractive fabric instead.