Lotus Evora 400
The Evora finally gets the power it deserves
IT MAY HAVE REFINEMENT AND SOPHISTICATION, BUT DEEP DOWN, IT’S STILL A TRACK-DAY CAR
Once, while we were stuck in traffic, my wife and I started talking about the sports cars I’ve sampled. “I like this car,” she said of the Mazda MX-5 RF we’re in. “Clearly, you know what it’s for, but the engineers haven’t sacrificed ride quality.”
“I like the Porsche 718 Boxster, too,” she continued. “And, to make you happy, the 86’s ride is livable.” This is good—she approves of three sports cars on my wish list.
I brought up one car I already knew she wasn’t fond of: “What about the Lotus Exige?”
“What’s to like about that car?” she responded in a displeased manner. “It’s so uncomfortable and difficult to get in and out off.” “But it’s a track car.” “Then it should stay on the track,” she fired back. Fair point—I have no counterargument. And besides, it’s true that the Exige is so track-focused, it’s impossible to drive around on regular roads.
But the Evora? It’s more sophisticated and useful, and best of all, it has wider doors and lower, narrower sills for easier entry and exit. Basically, it’s a Lotus chicks will dig.
It’s still reminiscent of the Exige, minus the cartoonish bulging fenders. This 400 variant replaces the Evora and the Evora S, and with it comes a redesigned bodykit that increases downforce by 23kg. Curb weight has also been reduced by 22kg, following Lotus’s philosophy of reducing weight to increase performance. This particular unit has a stripe on either side that provides a good contrast to the body’s curves and grooves. And I just have to say the Evora looks good in Essex Blue!
As I’ve mentioned, it’s easier to get into. Once you’re seated, the tilt-and-telescopic steering adjustment allows you to find your ideal driving position. Cabin design is still minimalist: Almost everything is wrapped in alcantara—
steering wheel, dashboard, seats, doors panels, pillars, and headliner—to highlight the sporty vibe.
The buckets, firm and with a good amount of bolstering, are still comfortable—much more comfortable for a passenger, my wife pointed out when she got to ride the car. The rear seats, on the other hand, are almost useless, and the backrest is just padding stuck on the firewall. Your friends would have to be contortionists to fit in there. At least you can use the space for a duffel bag or some groceries to augment the small cargo compartment behind the engine. (It’s as big as the cargo space in the Exige, as far as I remember.) Peeking out the rear glass is the
3.5-liter V6, now squeezing out 400hp and 410Nm care of an Edelbrock supercharger. This tester is equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox, which sounded unsatisfying, initially. But given our traffic situation, you could consider it a blessing. There are three driving modes: Touring, Sport, and Race.
What about the sound? Beautiful and sharp! There’s a button that increases the buzz of the exhaust in Touring mode, which already sounds sublime even without the sound enhancement. But you know you want the added drama. In Sport, there’s no need to turn the volume up—the exhaust note automatically gets louder.
And the Evora 400 just doesn’t sound fast—it really is diabolically fast! The way the automatic downshifts is particularly impressive, and the throttle blips are very aggressive in Sport mode. But this being a Lotus, the focus is still on handling and chassis balance. When it first came out, the Evora had 280hp; this later increased to 345hp in the Evora S. The chassis has been engineered to accommodate the power increase, and it can easily contend with the 400 horses of this variant. Take note that the Evora 400 was the fastest production Lotus at one point, until the release of a mildly uprated version with an extra 10hp. The GT430 and the GT430 Sport came after, both with an extra 30 horses.
As expected, this Lotus handles beautifully. It’s so responsive, and the steering has wonderful feedback. There may be more refinement, better NVH suppression, and a little more weight here than in other performance-oriented variants, but the car still feels agile. Still, you can’t take the track quality out of a track car—the ride is firm, but at least it’s not too jarring.
Niggles? This car is British-made, so I had anticipated a few. The trunk-lid warning kept flashing on the display; the trunk latch kept popping open on its own after I had locked the doors. And the handbrake felt somewhat flimsy. Such quibbles make you wonder how German carmakers always seem to get everything right. When I posted a photo of the Evora
400 on Facebook, a friend of mine asked how it compares to the Porsche
911 as an all-rounder. This Lotus has a lot of great things going for it, but being an all-rounder simply isn’t one of its strengths. But it’s quite a leap from the Exige S Roadster in terms of comfort and refinement. And my wife definitely agrees with that assessment.