Winding Road | Driven: 2011 Lotus Evora S

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Lotus Evora

Driven: 2011 Lotus S

June 08, 2011

Monterey,

Lotus is different. And, if completely honest about it, is mostly better, too. Not as a manufacturer, or as a “brand,” or as a cultural though the company could make interesting claims on all of those fronts as well. No, is better at building engaging, exactly-as-you’d-build-it-yourself-if-you-could sports cars.

The may be heading down a hazy with aims of higher and more mainstream products, but for the day that sees us finish up our drive of the supercharged Evora S, we can say the reputation should remain as far as enthusiasts are concerned. Here’s

We tend to lick our chops we hear that a car launch is being held in and around Not only is the region home to the and historic Laguna Seca track (no small draw for enthusiasts), but it also happens to be with miles of back that measure roughly ten out of ten on the scale. In much the same way melds a potent mix of high-speed and corners, elevation change, and speeds, the roads we drove in new flagship offered a huge of pace and character.

Better partly because the company is a one with limited resources to on logistics like hired or transporters, and partly because its to motorsport make it determined to behind its new car on all levels, we drove the (hard) to the track and then on it, and back again. We’ll say again, because it’s The Evoras we tracked weren’t specifically for use at Laguna, with in reserve for the road drive.

Nope, this was an old school deal.

As the most luxurious, Lotus in the current lineupnot 100 removed from its Elise but not much similar eitherthe time was what we thought provide the Evora with the challenge to its reputation. We’d about the naturally aspirated car as being less … for instance, the Porsche Cayman in experience, so it seemed reasonable this more powerful car not be best foot forward at

Not completely true, as it turns We lapped the famed track, three laps at a time, for the part of two hours, in both the S and the standard car. The performance was impressive.

Obviously the greater and torque output of the Evora S horsepower and 295 pound-feet versus 276 and respectively) was an asset on the circuit, that car offering unbridled when climbing some of the sections of the track, significantly speeds towards the end of the main and lots more pulling out of low-speed corners.

Better the extra weight of the supercharged car pounds), while mildly was never enough of a drag on to offset the advantage of the extra it offered. We felt a small when turning in and balancing when driving the base but we were doing both at more clear-headed speeds,

What’s more, the Evora slightly lighter-weight, more clutch pedal made us far able to execute quick, downshifts at high speeds. a massive asset when staring down at a rapidly Corkscrew, for instance.

Our Laguna also served to illustrate how well the Lotus traction system worked, as well as how the car is with all aids switched We lapped happily for a while feeling bold enough to the course with no electronic For the record, Lotus tells us “off” means “off” ABS stays on at all times.

With the systems off, the Evora a much looser, more device; and one that we, frankly, harder to pilot with accuracy around the track. a bit too early caused us to nearly the back end a few times, though the proved forgiving enough to let us recover with a dab of braking or steering correction. All mistakes as an indictment of our skills and not the car’s to be sure.

The Evora felt less than elegant in of balance. With the traction on, we were able to push, around the limits of the vehicle, mistakes and not get into trouble, and feel like we were an organic, non-intrusive driving

Beyond the revised clutch and (clutch master cylinder, and linkage have all been too) the powertrain offered thrust via the 3.5-liter V-6. is available immediately and continues to up nicely as the revs build. We sure, after one trial to leave Sport mode as it offers a higher redline versus 6800 rpm), and the exhaust freer breathing and far evocative to hear.

The extra gave us greater flexibility on the and the louder exhaust just us feel better about alive. On full song the S sounds like a stone-cold for sure. Non-S mode is better for day-to-day driving, we but we found little reason not to the car fully ramped during the of our drive.

Of course, “day-to-day” in the Evora is far more likely to place on the fabulous driving of the world than it is in hum-drum at least that’s what like to believe. A good then that the newest comes finds its surest and its most natural gait in environment.

By dialing down the speeds we hit at Laguna, the Evora to feel even more quick to accelerate, and supremely to talk about what was under the tires. Communication is probably 95th-percentile high, only … Porsches, Lotus products, Ferraris, and ilk coming close to delivering level of feel through the wheel and the suspension.

Grip limits and g forces immediately evident by way of our pants’ and we felt most of the large changes through our fingertips. Of part of the brilliance of the Evora as a intense GT-type car is that it doesn’t batter its driver, this visceral connection the environment.

There’s enough in the suspension, combined with stiffness in the body structure, to a relatively smooth ride bad roads without compromising the car dynamically. A very linear effort, pedal feel, and response all help to let us move the naturally over the road at speeds.

Very sharp to throttle or brakes can (and did) upset the spell the Lotus casts over the but for the most part the car absolutely smoothness. Very few other can boast this happy a compromise.

Complaints? Certainly the isn’t perfect. At a starting of $76,000 for the two-seater ($77,500 for the this Evora hovers in and space between the bottom Porsche 911 and the top trim Caymans.

S and Cayman R are roughly $14K and less dear, respectively, the 911 Carrerawith identical horsepower, a slower 0-60 time, and a top speedstarts about $3000 the Evora S. In that price arguments can be made for the Lotus or any of the though we must admit the Germans feel of a higher quality, and by some good there.

Lotus cabin materials and feel mostly very but significant items like the system, switchgear, and seats compare well to these competitors. (We have to say that we quite enjoyed the Evora’s chairs, but a lack of adjustability and hardness overall won’t all buyers in this segment.)

Fit and quibbles aside, there’s doubt that the Evora S the game seriously on for Lotus in more upscale part of the The understated supercar looks not go unappreciated by buyers or spectators, and the for enthusiast drivers is superb If our very memorable road-track-road is any indication, we think that will end up with vastly grins than gripes the final tallies come in.

better, Lotus.

VS: Porsche 911

You really have to pick battles and define how you like high-end sports cars to between these two, we think that the Evora S edge out the “base” 911 in terms of ability. The Lotus has the same pushing around less and offers better driver overall, too. We probably even need to get into how has put the Evora engine in the “right do we?

The Evora S is a better driver’s and people shopping these have that high on list of priorities (we hope).

said, the Porsche has better and a nicer interior, if comfortable in a fast car is more your Taste is personal but we think the looks better than the 911, too.

VS: Porsche S

The 911 may be closer in price and power, but brother Cayman S has the same layout as the Evora, and is closer in to the Lotus’s race-bred driving In a very close fight we may say the Cayman is just a bit harder and intense than the Evora, dynamically not much separates excellent pair.

Porsche has a good reputation for build and durability, Lotus must put the time in to get to that place.

the Evora S will win some and minds, we think, is with its ride quality and roomier Anyone looking for a car to drive will care about of these areas where the is noticeably stronger. It’s fair to say that Evora is to drive fast, too, of more forgiving suspension and a meatier motor.

2011 Evora S

Engine: Supercharged 3.5 liters, 24v

Output: 345 hp/295

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