What is it?
Back then a mere eight-year lifespan was planned for this 280bhp 2+2 GT, but 12 years later the economy is once again on its knees, Instagram has grown to serve one billion users worldwide and, amazingly, the Evora is still with us.
To put this timescale in some context, since this magazine first drove the Evora, Lotus has gone on to develop operational hybrid prototypes, return to Formula 1, win in Formula 1 for the first since 1987, threaten a dangerously overambitious former boss with high court action, depart from Formula 1, plan an all-new Esprit, make an annual loss of £36 million, fall under the ownership of Chinese giant Geely, receive a cash injection of several billion pounds and launch an electric hypercar with 1973bhp, that costs £2.04 million and goes by the mercurial-sounding name ‘Evija’.
It goes almost without saying that Lotus has also given us some truly barnstorming road cars during that time – not least the Evora itself, which won Autocar’s annual Handling Day contest at the first go in 2009 and has evolved since – but you’d be forgiven for forgetting all about those, such is the degree of strategic turbulence this tiny car company has endured.
The big news now is that Lotus is pivoting to become an electric-leaning brand, starting with an all-new hybrid-V6 Esprit expected to break cover next year. Not that anyone has told the Evora, of course.
In GT410 form, it continues to use a supercharged Toyota 3.5-litre V6 (you can guess the power output) and pairs this with a six-speed manual gearbox. Unlike the Exige and Elise, Lotus’s most refined model also uses power steering, but the set-up is hydraulic rather than electromechanical and the application is light. Uniquely in the Lotus line-up, the Evora then benefits from having a mechanical limited-slip differential between its rear wheels.
At 1361kg, the car also remains extremely light for something with back seats and plenty of ‘luxuries’, which are ultimately what separates the GT410 from the existing GT410 Sport. A softer suspension tune has been imported from US-market Evoras to give the car even greater everyday appeal, and the cabin mirrors this. DAB is available for the first time on any Lotus, the slightly perched but deep Sparco buckets are heated, there’s air conditioning as standard and a reversing camera, plus extra sound insulation and, yes, there are now armrests in the door cards.
An optional Sports Pack adds stiffer suspension, forged wheels from the GT430 road racer and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, but all this rather defeats the point.