2011 Lotus Evora S |MotorWeek

13 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2011 Lotus Evora S |MotorWeek
Lotus Evora

Episode 3101

Famed designer Colin Chapman founded Lotus cars with a less is more philosophy that has stood the test of time: all else being equal, a small lightweight chassis will out-perform a heavier car in the long run. Nimble handling, short braking and quick acceleration have been hallmarks of Lotus brand sports cars since the beginning, and the 2011 Evora S hits all those targets dead center.

Quickness starts with the addition of a Harrop supercharger to the Evora’s already highly modified, mid-mounted Toyota v6. Compared to the Evora we tested last spring, horsepower jumps 69 to 345, while torque rises to 295 pound-feet, a gain of 37.

The chassis tub – made of extruded aluminum that’s bonded rather than welded – weighs just 440 pounds, including the front and rear subframes. The S adds stiffer bushings, a new front upper suspension for increased castor, and revised damping. Curb weight is a scant 3,168 pounds, and doing the math that’s just 9.2 pounds per horsepower. Pushing the sport button activates an exhaust bypass valve, raises the redline to 7200 rpm, and improves throttle response.

It also alters the stability control system to allow more oversteer in turns. The result? The Evora S driver is not just connected to the road, he or she is hard-wired through the steering.

Our drag strip slalom course has never felt so ho-hum. But, every twisty back road between home and track proved a direct path to nirvana. It’s hard to believe the S improves on the standard Evora’s response, but it does. Ride quality, however, remains impressively good thanks to a long-for-its-size 101.4-inch wheelbase.

The S also has a notably faster feel than the standard Evora. Torque hits a sweet spot from 2500 to 4500 rpm. Launches catapult you off the line. But, while new shift cables improve action, long throws and a rubbery feel still impede gear changes.

Clutch engagement, however, is perfect as is.

Lotus claims a 4.3-second 0 to 60 time, a number that we couldn’t quite match in test day’s 95 degree heat. But we felt somewhat redeemed by a 12.8-second quarter mile at 107 miles per hour. On a longer straight, this little rocket will top out at a heady 172. Our S wore 19 front, and 20-inch rear Pirelli p-zero corsa tires.

Behind them are AP racing four-piston calipers on cross-drilled rotors. They hauled our S quickly to a stop in a scant 105 feet from 60. The only fade was in our drivers as they strained to keep their eyeballs in place!

Lotus Evora

Our Evora S came decked out in a darkish red hue, and everything about it says sports car! As we’ve noted before, the Evora’s smoother shape is more mature than the edgier Elise and Exige. From the smiley meshed grill and elongated headlights, to the hood and profile character lines, the fluid motion looks alive.

At the back are wide eyed taillights, a wing, center exhaust, and the loud and proud lotus name stretching all the way across the car.

The interior is little changed from before. It’s upscale and business-like and not nearly as tight as it looks. But, eccentric switches and components, plus less than stellar fit and finish, make it seem more kit car than limited production. While the Evora is a 2+2, our car came without the child only rear seat. The package shelf is more useful.

Another practical note, government fuel economy ratings for the Evora S are 17 city and 26 highway. Our mixed loop returned a heavy footed 19.6 mpg on premium.

But just how practical is it to own a Lotus Evora S? Reasonably, is our answer. The S stickers for $77,175. That’s not bad for such a rare, stunning to see, and superb to drive machine.

Still, we think the Evora’s shortcomings, interior fitment, and a vague shifter, need immediate attention. Cars like the new Audi TT-RS, not to mention Porsche Cayman and 911, excel in those departments.

Lotus cars is to be commended for sticking to their minimalist idealism as the Evora S is overall an exciting mix of nimbleness, performance and exclusivity. But, specialized attention is needed to keep this blossom from wilting. And we can’t wait for Lotus to grow to the challenge.

Lotus Evora
Lotus Evora
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