Lo­tus Evora 400

The Evora fi­nally gets the power it de­serves

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - Words by Ja­son dela Cruz

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.

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Vin­cent Coscol­luela

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