Although this story didnt arise from OEM-paid travel, we covered it while in Monterey on VWs dime for Car Week.
CARMEL, Calif.—It's always dangerous to meet your heroes—just interact with Chuck Yeager on Twitter if you don't believe me. So it was with trepidation that I dropped myself into the seat of the bright green $96,950 Lotus Evora GT, a model that has just been tweaked a little for US and Canadian consumption.
Until now I'd never actually been behind the wheel of a Lotus, at least not outside the confines of a British auto show back in the late '90s. What if it turned out to be crap? Lotus has had a rough time the past few years, and the Evora is getting pretty old these days. The fact that it turned out to be a wonderful car to drive wasn't just a relief, then. No, it filled me with hope for this small British automaker. If this is how good it can make a car on a shoestring, just imagine what it will be able to do now that it's properly funded.
The first pre-production Evoras rolled off Lotus' line in Hethel, England, over a decade ago. At the time, it was viewed as a significant event, the first all-new Lotus model since the Elise back in 1996. Like the Elise and its assorted variants (Exige, Europa S, 340R, 2-Eleven, etc), it is built around a tub of bonded and riveted extruded aluminum and then clad in lightweight composite body panels. The original plan was to develop a range of cars on the Evora's platform, the same way the Elise gave rise to so many other models. And the car was showered with plaudits at launch: Autocar awarded it Britain's Best Driver's Car 2009, and Evo named it as that publication's 2009 Car of the Year, saying that "[I]t's not flawless, but it's a magical thing across the ground… with exceptional poise and feel."
Unlike the Elise, this one was designed with the US market in mind, meeting then-new crash-test regulations and being powered by a Toyota-sourced V6 that could pass EPA emissions regulations. Like the Elise, it was meant to be the first in a series of new models, but then it all went wrong. A charismatic but ineffectual ex-Ferrari marketer ran the company for a while and promised an entire range of new models, but Lotus' Malaysian owners never gave it the resources to make any of that happen. So the Evora has soldiered on ever since, updated every so often with slightly more power and a few tweaks here and there.
The Evora GT, which comes as either a two-seater or 2+2, gets a high-output supercharged version of the 3.5L V6, providing 416hp (310kW) and 332lb-ft (420Nm). That doesn't sound like much compared to rivals like Porsche's 992 Carrera S or the mid-engined C8 Corvette, but with a curb weight of just 3,175lbs (1,440kg) it's also a good deal lighter than the competition. Fitted with a six-speed manual as tested, 0-60mph takes 3.8 seconds. With the optional six-speed automatic transmission, that same test requires 3.9 seconds. (Opting for the automatic means losing the Torsen limited-slip differential, however.)
Simplify and add lightness
A lot of the improvements over the old Evora 400 and Evora Sport 410 involve new lightweight components. Many of the body panels are now carbon fiber and have been designed to improve the car's aerodynamic profile, doubling the amount of downforce at speed compared to the 400. (Although we're not talking F1-levels, it only generates up to 141lbs/64kg of downforce.) Other options cut even more mass from the car—a titanium exhaust saves 22lbs (10kg), and Öhlins TTX dampers save another 28lbs (13kg).
There really is something special about driving a very light car, and it's an experience that's becoming all too rare as our vehicles get heavier and heavier Read More – Source