It almost seems like a cliché to say so, but Lotus is really on the up. Taking a motorshow by the scruff of the neck and putting everyone else in the shade is a hard task for the big boys, so for the modestly-sized firm from Norfolk to steal the limelight at Paris in September was something else. The five new models on show proved that, with the future of the company on a sure footing, the brilliant engineering brains can get on with what they do best.
The Evora has already won plaudits as well as the all-important hearts and minds of the enthusiasts, with the sharp chassis and slick exterior proving that Lotus can do more than develop Elise spin-offs. But constant development is the key to success which is why there’s now an Evora with an important extra letter at the end.
S in this instance stands for supercharged. Not that the regular Evora is short on power: the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 punches out 276bhp and a large chunk of torque, but such is the brilliance of the chassis that it can handle significantly more. The addition of a latest-generation twin scroll supercharger brings the corral up to 345bhp while the torque takes a big jump too: from 2,000rpm the Evora S produces as much torque as the standard version does at its peak. With a lithe kerbweight of 1437kg, the Evora S can blast beyond 170mph and scorch from 0-62mph in under five seconds. A fast car has become a very fast one.
You won’t be able to spot the difference from the outside though. Not unless its wearing the stunning new 19/20-inch alloy wheel option, complete with bespoke specification Pirelli tyres. The Evora remains a very attractive car: still clearly a 2+2 with occasional rear seats, but the mix of modern, clean lines and the occasional nod to Lotus heritage results in a car that has a distinct knack of turning heads. Worldwide sales so far of 1,300 units is in line with Lotus’s targets, but this is still a relatively rare car – not something that can necessarily said about its rivals.
Getting in requires a little forethought – this is a very low car after all – but once inside the Evora’s cockpit is simple and designed to offer a proper driving environment. The instruments are smart and important buttons are housed in slick metal-finished pods either side of the binnacle. It’s cost in here alright, but with the small wheel close to you and the chunky gear lever sprouting up close to hand, there’s no doubt that it’s ready for action.
Fire it up and there’s a little more mechanical action going on behind your head, although you are only faintly aware of it: this has not become a noisy car despite the addition of the supercharger. However, Lotus has spent time getting the most in terms of aural pleasure from the V6 and the optional sports exhaust system really adds to the character. Pull away and the extra torque is immediate, right from tickover a modest squeeze of the accelerator will elicit significant forward progress.
The other talent that makes itself known within the first half mile is how superbly the Evora rides. The S has detail suspension changes and is fractionally stiffer than the standard car, and even on the biggest wheel option it deals with very poor road surfaces remarkably well. This is a sports car first of course, so it doesn’t hide the surface from you, but you are aware of what’s going on without being bothered by it.
That is some trick to pull off when you start to drive the Evora hard. This is a proper Lotus: it has the grip, balance and delicacy that you wish every car could have, and every bend becomes a chance to savour its remarkable talents. It’s also very begin for a mid-engined car: it has the ability to change direction rapidly as a car of that configuration should, but even when pushing it to the limit around a circuit there’s no suggestion of it growing fangs and biting back.
The Evora S isn’t short of competition at this level – this is most definitely Porsche territory – but no excuses are required: this is a Lotus that can take on the best in the class and turn buyers’ heads. Don’t buy another sports car before you’ve driven one.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Lotus Evora S 2+2, £58,995
Engine: 3.5-litre petrol producing 345bhp and 295lb.ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels
Performance: Top speed 172mph, 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds
Economy: 28mpg combined
By Matt Joy