All you can do is play the hand you’re dealt. Lotus has endured some tumultuous times in the decade since the Lotus Evora was first released.
CEO Dany Bahar came and went, having promised the world and delivered nothing; dire sales and no product plan threatened the company’s very existence but the arrival of Jean-Marc Gales in 2014 righted the ship. Lotus reported a profit in 2017 and Geely’s purchase of a 51 per cent stake in the iconic brand secured its short-to-medium-term future.
Throughout it all the Evora has adapted, survived and is now healthier than ever. With insufficient funds to create new models, Lotus has focused on optimising what it has and transformed the Evora from a superb chassis with a dodgy interior and a Camry engine to a speedy, snarling sports car that, on the right road, can deliver a driving experience few other manufacturers can match.
The Sport 410 is the range-topper (now that the limited-edition GT430s are spoken for) and makes 306kW/420Nm, a healthy 100kW/70Nm more than it started with a decade ago. In everyday driving it’s completely unstressed, murmuring away in the background overlaid with a subtle whine from the supercharger.
Slight rev hang is a small annoyance but easy enough to drive around, while the six-speed gearbox also requires a certain rhythm – get it right and each gear slots away beautifully, but it can be a bit fussy.
Nothing about the Evora would preclude it from being used day-to-day. The ride is firm but supple, the back seats are useless for humans but handy for storage and road noise only becomes an issue at highway speeds.
Despite Lotus’s best efforts and recent strides forward, build quality is still far from the level you’d expect in a $200,000 car. The plastics in certain areas (the back of the steering wheel, for example) would feel cheap in a $15K city car and closing the door with the window down in our test example made the glass rattle.
There are further ergonomic quirks: the initial softness of the brake pedal makes heel-toe downshifts tricky, and its location would be perfect for left-foot braking if the clutch wasn’t there. You could rightly view these complaints as nit-picking, but they aren’t the kind of issues you find in, say, a Porsche Cayman. Then again, the Evora has something the Cayman doesn’t: an intoxicating exhaust note.
Unlike in the similarly-engined Exige, the Evora has no bimodal exhaust actuation point at 4000rpm. Hit the Sport button and you get all the noise, all the time. It’s unbelievably raucous. Possibly too raucous. Enthusiastic driving will be telegraphed to anyone within about five kilometres and you’re likely to run into a few issues with racetrack noise limits, too. It’s that loud.
The exhaust is switchable, but even in ‘quiet’ mode it opens its lungs again at around 4000rpm under full throttle. Still, it does sound incredible.
It doesn’t hang about, either. Despite an impressive 0-100km/h claim of 4.2sec, the Evora won’t knock your socks off with its pace, the linear way the supercharged engine delivers its power disguising its speed somewhat.
It’s nicely quick, by which I mean the speed isn’t intimidating or of a quantity that can’t be explored on the road, but it’s still a very potent machine.
Despite the injection of attitude, the Evora’s defining quality remains its chassis. The steering is outstanding, not super sharp but beautifully measured in its response and perfectly weighted, without the kickback that afflicts McLaren’s similarly talkative racks.
It provides ample information about the behaviour of the front tyres, which is particularly important as that’s the end that’s going to let go first.
Shod with sizeable Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, there isn’t the power to unstick the rear on dry tarmac, so with an appropriate entry speed the throttle can be nailed early, slingshotting the Evora towards corner exit like there’s an active diff involved.
It’d be interesting to sample the Sport 410 on less sticky rubber; the Cup 2s provide incredible cornering speeds but the sheer grip possibly dulls the car’s personality a little on the road. On track the Cups would no doubt come into their own.
The Evora won’t be for everyone, as allowances do have to be made for a low-volume sports car built by a small company.
Some would argue that allowances shouldn’t have to be made when you’re spending north of $200K, but when it comes to the driving experience there is no compromise required.
It’s an extremely talented, involving sports car with everyday manners, which isn’t a bad hand to play.
Tested and rated on MOTOR car reviews
2019 LOTUS EVORA GT410 SPORT SPECS
Engine: 3456cc V6, DOHC, 24v, supercharged
Power: 306kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 420Nm @ 3500rpm
0-100km/h: 4.2sec (claimed)
Like: Chassis, communicative steering, engine, grip, docile to drive around town
Dislike: Build quality, brake pedal feel and position, exhaust too loud for some, price
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars