What is it?
Here it is at last: the longed-for Lotus which takes all the lessons that Hethel has learned from the rule-changing Elise over 13 years, and combines them with a superb 276bhp 3.5-litre Toyota-sourced V6 in a bigger mid-engined package to make a genuinely refined long-distance high-performance sports car.
The new Lotus Evora is also the world’s one-and-only mid-engined 2+2, and it takes Lotus directly into Porsche Cayman territory, even if, at its proposed 2000 cars-a-year volume, the British car will always be by far the more exclusive of the pair.
It occupies the middle position in Lotus’s proposed three-tier model structure, which aims eventually (when there’s a new Esprit supercar and the Elise has been renewed) to extend total production volumes beyond 5000 units a year.
If the Evora has one secret weapon it is efficiency; it combines 160mph performance and sub-5.0sec 0-60mph acceleration with low C02 numbers (205g/km) and 30mpg real-world fuel consumption. The entry price, both for the pure two-seater and the most basic 2+2 is just below £50,000, but the extra gadgetry and equipment packs of the first 450 launch cars will push that tag into the upper £50k arena.
What's it like?
A few parts are disappointing. Most parts are as good as you’d expect from Lotus. Some parts are utterly brilliant. The Evora is as compact-looking coupe that makes a Porsche Boxster look big and wide, but its clever packaging and long wheelbase allow it to carry small people (realistically, children up to about 10 years old) in the back.
It has an all-new monocoque chassis which uses the bonded aluminium principles hatched in the Elise and refined in Lotus’s VVA (Variable Vehicle Architecture) system. Hethel engineers make a special issue of the Evora's stiffness, more than two-and-a-half times that of an Elise.
That helps cut noise and deliver the ultra-accurate steering and suspension geometry needed for Lotus-level handling precision. The forged alloy suspension is by double wishbones all-round (with sophisticated dual-path top mounts to reduce noise) and the rack and pinion steering has hydraulic power assistance.