Lotus Evora S reviewed – wheels.ae

23 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Lotus Evora S reviewed – wheels.ae

“It’s the way it drives that still draws enthusiasts to the British marque despite all its limitations on the build-quality and practicality front.”

Source:Grace Paras/ANM

Impractical yet brilliant, the Lotus Evora S is undoubtedly one of the best-handling sportscars around, but can it take the fight to the venerable Cayman? Sony Thomas finds out.

Driving around in flashy sportscars is definitely one of the biggest perks of being a motoring hack. But these benefits sometimes come at a great price. Like pulling up in front of an ogling throng in JBR, only to crawl awkwardly out of the car and almost roll on to the pavement. Such distressingly graceless moments were the order of the day when I went around town in the new (at least in the UAE) Lotus Evora S, which has possibly the widest door sills in any production car.

This combined with its low height and the fact that the doors don’t open wide enough, make getting in and out of the car a clumsy affair.

And if you thought things get better once you’ve managed to install yourself in the driver’s seat, you’d be wrong. The aforementioned ultra-wide door sill curves right into the footwell, and the ludicrously small dead pedal that appears to have been made for feline paws will leave your left foot dangling under the brake pedal in a stifled contortion.

It’s a shame that these minor ergonomic flaws make long drives a pain in what is otherwise one of the best sportscars on sale today. Lotus has ostensibly set its sights on the Porsche Cayman, and the sublime steering and splendid chassis of the Evora S are enough to remind you that if anyone has the engineering competence and heritage to challenge a Porsche’s purity, it’s got to be Lotus.

The hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering is incredibly direct and so delectably weighted that it marries you and the car into an ecstatic union. It’s as if merely wrapping your fingers around the relatively small wheel forms some sort of instant connectivity that makes you a part of the car, which shrinks around you. No other car that I’ve driven in recent years comes close to the Evora when it comes to the steering’s magical precision and feel.

Equally impressive is the Evora’s phenomenal handling. The chassis is so stiff that Lotus claims it takes 27,000Nm of torque to twist it by just one degree. The layout and construction are inspired by modern-day racecars.

The chassis is an extruded and bonded aluminium structure with its front subframe holding the suspension, brakes and steering, the central tub incorporating the driver’s cockpit and safety cell, and the rear subframe accommodating the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and exhaust system. And this has also allowed the engineers to make the Evora’s suspension softly sprung, helping it soak up road imperfections and bumps with a kind of composure and compliance that’s uncommon in this segment.

Thanks to this incredibly balanced chassis, the Evora responds to your inputs almost telepathically and even if you manage to take it close to the chassis’ limits, it remains well within your control. It’s quite evident that the car is designed and engineered to handle a lot more horsepower and torque than the V6 
under its bonnet churns out.

As for the engine, it’s the same 2GR-FE 3.5-litre V6 that does service in the Toyota Aurion and the Avalon. But in the Evora S it produces 345bhp and 400Nm of torque, thanks to an Eaton supercharger. Lotus estimates the 0-100kph time of the Evora S to be just 4.7 seconds, which although isn’t quite neck-snapping, is good enough in a 1,437kg car, taking it all the way up to a top speed of 269kph.

However, this beautiful engine is let down by the automatic gearbox, which Lotus so pompously calls the IPS or Intelligent Precision Shift.

While it’s just fine toddling around town, the auto ’box fails to do justice to the engine if you’re looking for some spirited driving. The shifts aren’t quick enough to help you squeeze the most out of the great engine and even shifting with the steering paddles results in a mushy response.

The available stick-shift option should solve this problem, but with that cramped footwell, juggling with the clutch and brake pedals in the manual-transmission version is sure to leave you club-footed very soon. On the upside, the manual transmission Evora S shaves a tenth of a second off the 0-100kph time and the top speed goes up to 286kph.

 One good thing about the IPS variant of the Evora S is that the Sport Pack comes with a sports button as standard, which sharpens throttle response, raises the rev limit and deepens the exhaust note. But don’t expect it to suddenly sound like a Maserati. The Evora’s V6 sounds good but it hardlly wails like a supercar; in fact, it gets drowned out by the unusually loud radiator fan.

The Sport Pack adds a sportier setting for the Dynamic Performance Management system, a sports diffuser, titanium sports exhaust tailpipe and cross-drilled brake discs with red callipers. If you choose to go for the optional Tech pack, that adds creature comforts you wouldn’t expect in a Lotus like upgraded speakers and stereo system with amplifier and subwoofer, a DVD player and even a 7.0in touchscreen colour display with integrated sat-nav.

And the interior is also surprisingly well put together. There are no gaping panel gaps, most of the cabin is clothed in suede and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any dried-up glue in joints as was the case in many previous Lotus models. 
Of course there are severe practicality issues, like the rear window that seems to be smaller than the rear-view mirror, seriously hampering visibility, and the excuses for rear seats that any self-respecting toddler would find unacceptable.

It’s better you choose to delete the rear seats and opt for a parcel shelf instead, as the cargo space is limited.

But it’s not for practicality that you’d buy a Lotus. It’s the way it drives that still draws enthusiasts to the British marque despite all its limitations on the build-quality and practicality front. And when it comes to pure driving fun, the Evora S won’t let you down. Also, in the couple of days I spent with the Evora S, I noticed that it turned as many heads as a Ferrari or a McLaren would, which cannot be said about a Cayman or a 911.

But that’s about all it beats the Porsche on. Apart from its exotic looks, awesome steering and the amazing chassis, the Evora S isn’t anywhere close to a Cayman when it comes to practicality and build quality.

It’s ironic that while Lotus focused on making the Evora more useable and less hard-core than other models like the Exige, it’s its practicality issues that put a bit of a dampener on an otherwise brilliant sportscar.

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