Forget, for a moment, the automotive media’s glowing reviews of the 2018 Lotus Evora 400. Instead, consider the recent reaction of a sharp-eyed third-grader in carpool line, who sighted the low-slung British 2+2 amid assorted SUVs and minivans and bellowed with all his might, “Hey, look at THAT!”
In response, about 25 little heads swiveled in unison to check out the Evora’s futuristic lines, clad in shimmering Metallic Orange paint. And as my deliriously grinning grandson hopped in, I blipped the throttle for a quick farewell roar of sonic salute to his wide-eyed classmates. Even the headmaster, directing traffic, gave us an enthusiastic thumbs-up as we pulled away.
Talk about show and tell …
The Lotus Story
More than most British auto manufacturers, Lotus has had its share of financial ups and downs. At one point in the early 1980s, production slowed to fewer than 400 cars a year. But the company’s Formula 1 prowess — popularizing mid-engine placement, creating the first monocoque chassis, integrating the engine and transaxle into the chassis, adding wings to create downforce — kept it relevant, if not always profitable.
Lotus held on, imbuing production cars like the feather-light Exige and Elise with lightning-fast reflexes and finely tuned suspensions that attracted both passionate track devotees and those who liked bright, shiny go-karts in their garages.
Today, Lotus is a subsidiary of well-heeled Geely, the Chinese automotive company that also reinvigorated Volvo. Reassuringly, the cars are still built by hand at Hethel, a converted World War II RAF station in Norfolk, England.
The mid-engine Evora 400 — the number represents horsepower — and its twin sibling, the slightly more powerful 410, are arguably their best yet.
2018 Lotus Evora Up Close
The Evora’s aggressive body is anything but subtle, which is one of the things that makes it so much fun. Sculpted from the miracle of carbon-fiber composites, it’s attached to a lightweight bonded aluminum structure that provides gobs of structural rigidity — perfect for a convertible version that we can only
assume will be forthcoming at some point.
The interior is a far cry from the squeaky, plasticky Lotus of old — single-stitching graces the leather seats, and the generous use of available Alcantara (think suede) around the cabin adds an elegant touch and feel. The dash features both dials and digital displays and is stylishly functional.
The suspension, a forged aluminum double-wishbone with Bilstein high-performance gas dampers and Eibach coaxial coil springs, keeps you sure-footed and rooted to the road. Steering is still happily hydraulic, bucking the electric trend, and adds a certain linear texture to the Evora driving experience.
The center of gravity — especially with me in it — is super low, which means you can dash around turns with astonishing agility. One passenger — not my grandson — suggested adding a barf bag to the glove box. Yeah, it’s that good.
The manual shifter is short, quick and genuinely fun to throw around. The clutch and brake pedals are teaspoon-tiny but that’s because they make the heel-and-toe polka of shifting easier. And there’s lots of torque at the bottom-end so you don’t have to run through all the gears in city driving. I didn’t try the automatic. Why bother? It’s a
LOTUS, for crying out loud.
It’s Got WHAT?
When people stopped me to ask about the Evora — as they did constantly, at stoplights and parking lots, even in my driveway — they’d ask, “Where in Italy does it come from and what kind of engine is that peeking out from the rear glass deck?” When I said it was British, not Italian, and the engine was the same 3.5-liter V6 as the demure Toyota Camry, their heads exploded.
Unlike the Camry, however, the Evora’s V6 packs a supercharger and an intercooler for breathtakingly quick acceleration. It’s not blow-me-away Ferrari-fast, but it’s also oodles of dough less than any Ferrari — around the price of a nicely tricked-out Porsche Cayman.
All that plumbing adds weight, which is why the Evora tips the scales slightly higher than most Porsches. But pound-for-pound, the Evora compares well to the Cayman and even the 911. And looks bloody well more dramatic, as the Norfolk folk might say.
Is the Evora perfect? No. The backseat, trunk and cupholders are jokes. You don’t take this to Costco and stock up, unless all you need is dental floss. The radio is lame-o and the tiny sat-nav touchscreen is adequate at best. Getting in and out of it requires contortionist-grade flexibility, and you’d better be fond of your passenger because the cabin is quite cozy.
But if you want practicality, get a Ford. Driving the Evora is much like building a relationship with a superior yet forgiving being. Inexpressively alive, the Evora demands much of the driver. But the reward comes when we think we’ve mastered its many facets, then learn, as the Carpenters sang, “We’ve only just begun.”
There’s a lot to like about the Evora, as that third-grader understood at a glance. Ah, the wisdom of children.
2018 Lotus Evora By the Numbers: 400 vs. 410
- Supercharged (Edelbrock) 3.5 L Toyota 2GR-FZE V6
- Transmission : 6-speed Aisin manual or automatic
- Horsepower: 400
- Torque: 302 lb·ft
- Weight: 3,075 pounds with manual transmission; 3,102 with automatic
- 0-60: 4.1 seconds
- Top speed: 186 mph (with manual)
Evora Sport 410
- Same engine, transmission options as above
- Horsepower: 410
- Torque: 310 lb-ft
- Weight: 2,921 pounds with manual; 2,948 with automatic
- 0-60: 3.9 seconds
- Top speed: 190 mph (with manual)
Two for F1 Fans
There are two higher-performance Evora variants — the Evora GT430 and GT430 Sport. They leverage much of the company’s race experience and technology, but only 60 of each will be produced. If you want what will surely be a serious collectible (presuming they’re not all spoken for already), don’t dilly-dally — it’s about as close as you’re ever going to get to having an honest-to-goodness GT race car.
Get yours at
Park Place Premier Collection
5300 Lemmon Avenue
Dallas, TX 75209
Our thanks to Tim Wood and Simon Crossley of Park Place Premier Collection for lending us our 2017 Metallic Orange Evora 400 (price as tested, $104,000). Let’s make a deal.