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Lotus Evora

Lotus Evora Published: 11th Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lotus Evora

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 430
  • Worst model: Anything tatty
  • Budget buy: Early models
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes it’s modern
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4361 x W1972mm
  • Spares situation: Generally good
  • DIY ease?: Hardly…
  • Club support: Typical Lotus
  • Appreciating asset?: Starting to become one
  • Good buy or good-bye?: A great yet overlooked Lotus. Buy while cheap
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Latest Lotus GT that’s spectacular value for money. Inherently reliable and easy to run, this overlooked sports car has all the hallmarks of a future classic

Lotus loves the letter ‘E’. Chapman’s classics started it with Elite, followed by Elan, Europa… the list goes on. The latest is Evora and while it sounds similar to the Portuguese city, the Lotus nomenclature is in fact a jumble of words involving Evolution and Vogue. At one stage, Hethel even contemplated using the car’s code name ‘Eagle’.

Fifty years after Armstrong utterED the words ‘The Eagle has landed’ another one has also touched down – this mid-engined Lotus – as a nailed on modern classic that provides Ferrari thrills for the price of a top TR6 or Exige. For sure, a car that Chapman would have been supremely proud of, is it also the answer for Lotus lovers who have outgrown their Elises?

History

2008 Codenamed Project Eagle, this all new Lotus, the first for 13 years, débuts at July’s London Motor Show with deliveries starting in the new year. It’s striking looking mid-engined sports car with Elise DNA but with a totally new platform and a transversely-mounted Toyota V6, producing 276bhp via six-speed manual. The first 450 were called Launch Edition and were all 2+2s laden with fully loaded option packs – the only choice for buyers were the colours.

2010 Lotus introduces Intelligent Precision Shift (IPS); an auto option. Also on the cars was now the Evora S, a supercharged slingshot with 345bhp, a closer ratio gearbox, and other alterations such as thick anti roll bars and a much better gear change. Now also available as strictly two-seater.

2011 The Evora S is now offered with IPD transmission. GTE was a limited run special primarily majoring on select markets such as China but soon became available in Europe; by 2015 22 were made for the UK.

2012 Sports Racer Edition has special livery and up-gunned equipment levels.

2015 Evora 400 replaces all previous models but sports Evora S mechanicals plus new 400bhp tune together with a standard limited slip diff and larger brakes. The body takes on a meaner stance.

2016 Sport 410 is a warmed up version with 410bhp but the weight is significantly reduced for a 0-60mph dash in under four seconds.

2017 GT430 becomes the fastest road going Lotus ever; engine now puts out 430bhp care of a new

American Edelbrock supercharger and a titanium sports exhaust set up. Auto model boasts slightly more torque over original and GT430 further sheds weight to 1278Kg – almost 50kg lighter than stock Evora 400 – but lighter still is the GT430 Sport (1248kg) which, when combined with more aerodynamic aids, lifts the car’s top speed to almost 200mph.

Driving and press comments

Soon after the Evora’s launch it was awarded Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2009 from Autocar and Car of the Year 2009, from monthly Evo. More tellingly is the fact that, even after a decade of service, the former weekly recently still raved about the car “No mid-engined car had ever felt so adjustable and playful”, was one comment, “the Evora rides and handles utterly superbly” another plaudit while Top Gear magazine concurs – “The way it drives is little short of sublime”.

“On the road the Evora delivers the huge cornering grip, sensitive but uncorrupted steering, powerful brakes and close-to-zero body roll that you’d expect from the Elise/Exige’s grown-up sibling, along with a smooth, quick-reacting engine that delivers subdued race sounds, especially over 4200rpm, where the variable inlet tract tunes itself for top-end performance. Around a track, this car will undoubtedly be brilliant.

“However, the major surprise is the Evora’s suitability for day-long journeys; the creamy torque of the engine, the way the suspension quietly absorbs bumps and suppresses the coarse surfaces so often found in rural Scotland, the rock-like rigidity of the chassis and the richness of its cabin trim and equipment are all new areas for Lotus.

“This is a car truly suitable for a week’s all-roads European grand touring, the fi rst of the marque to achieve it”, hailed Autocar although criticised some aspects of the interior, such as its meagre rear seats, where even kids will fi nd them a squeeze, and lack of quality that you get with Porsche Cayman.

One thing Lotus never really improved was the gear change which was always sadly imprecise and it felt that the button-activated IPS auto could be frustrating “while most of the time the gearbox lets you enjoy that, there are occasions when it hampers the fun…. it isn’t for those looking for an appealing alternative to the Evora’s fairly average manual shift”.

As a pure driver’s car with searing outright performance and 10/10ths handling the Lotus is up there with the best Porsche or Ferrari can offer but as a GT it’s short on space and refinement. So what’s new? Hethel heroes, apart from the supersaloon Lotus Carlton, it has always been thus.

Values and the marketplace

Considering its supercar status the Evora looks pretty incredible value, starting from comfortably under £30,000 although Paul Matty currently has 400 Hethel Edition for double this.

Ken Morgan of Snows Lotus Hedge End (www. snowsgroup.co.uk), one of the biggest names in Evoras, says that, like all modern Lotuses, they have a huge ownership age base; he cites one 21 year old owning an Evora yet another, well into his 70s, on his fourth Elise, of which a fair fellow owners are trading up to this 2+2, sidelining the Exige-based Europa S due to its lack of comfort and refi nement for touring.

Colleague Mike Taylor, at 22 must be one of the youngest! He says that while you can see them in the 20s, £28,000 is the baseline for good early car. The supercharged S model commands up to £4000 more but Taylor says their jump in values is questionable – in contrast moving up to a 400 and above is worthwhile if you can. Manuals far outnumber the IPS models and of the three trim packs – Sport, Tech and Premium – the fi rst is the most popular.

Ken Morgan admits that while the Lotus lacks the build quality of a Porsche (you have to accept a few leaks and creaks, he says) it’s considerably superior to a TVR of the same age and condition but Mike adds that you shouldn’t fear a car with a handful of previous owners as it’s probably been better looked after than many two owner alternatives, simply because the new custodians will have lavished TLC on the new pride and joy. High mileages need a watch, however.

In terms of running one, economy is good; Taylor says he can eke out around 30mpg but warns in general that running costs are “half that much again” compared to an Elise. Paul Matty broadly agrees but says they are considerably cheaper to maintain than a Ferrari, for example (bank on £1500-£2000 a year, depending upon model), and overall it’s one of the best Lotuses yet, witness values that have started to rally already during the past 12 months.

He says that unlike previous Lotus models “they don’t feel or sound as though they’re made from fibreglass” although advises 2012 models are best if you can run to one as most of the car’s early niggles were ironed out. He’s not a lover of tuned versions – unless they have proper Lotus upgrades (“the car doesn’t need them”) but is a real fan of the IPS transmission.

Improvements

For many, a standard Evora will do nicely thanks but there’s no shortage of tuning and customising parts ether – some from Lotus itself. First attack plan is with the V6 where you opt for just moderate induction and exhaust upgrades, perhaps worth an additional 15bhp, to rechipping the ECU. Lotus experts Hanger 111 can eke out 300bhp and almost the same torque figure from a standard Evora when coupled with its EV 300 upgrade which comprises, sports air filter, and exhaust (including the manifolds) coupled to a uprated Cat converter. There are also brake and suspension mods plus special baffled sumps (from britishracinggroup.com) which the latter is said to be essential to prevent oil surge during track work. The US outfit also markets Lotus Racing chassis and brake upgrade kits while fellow American magnatuning.com offers a range of jazzier body parts such as bumpers, side skirts, carbon fibre and more.

First class service…

Drive a few to set a dependable datum because this car may be totally out of your sphere and even a crashed duffer may feel great! And expect the odd creaks and leaks – it’s not a Porsche quipped one expert.

It goes without saying that a full service history is essential. Each pit stop is at 9000 miles, filters every 36,000 miles and spark plugs at 54K although hard driven, tuned and track day cars may warrant TLC sooner. And insist that the often forgotten pollen filter is renewed as it can affect the air con – speaking of which was modified by Lotus early on.

Check what you’re getting. There’s handful of option packs (along with Sport gearbox option) and these add to the desirability, as do colours and wheels; tyres come mighty big on some models – 275/30 x20inch with corresponding credit card crunching prices when it comes to repair or when replacing them.

Being a modern, you’re going to be saddled with the highest VED ratings plus top Group 47-50 insurance classifications as the Lotus is too new to qualify for classic cover although most owners speak of 30mpg potential.

Unless it’s been pranged (track days?) there should be few bodywork issues save for inevitable scrapes and scratches. Given it’s complex build you would be wise to have a professional examination carried out by a Lotus dealer or specialist if you’re unsure. Certainly, anything less than a sublime drive suggests the chassis maybe out of true.

Any body repairs will be expensive. The bumper has to be removed to access the radiator and refitting is difficult. Any parking bumps can also knock it out of line and damage the pricey headlights.

Interiors aren’t of Porsche quality so don’t be surprised to find seat bolster hides wearing thin or some trim looking very second-hand (typical Lotus). The electric windows and door handles (mainly the solenoids) are known to play up as well.

…Or toyota traumas?

Toyota’s V6 is durable along with the pair of superchargers it uses (depending upon year) if serviced on time. The unit is chain driven so no worries here but the mill doesn’t appreciate over-revving, such as on a track – it’s sensible to interrogate the ECU to check.

The gearbox is also Toyota and where problems can arise. The gearchange was never brilliant at the best of times but the cables can stretch, making matters worse.

Clutches, on manuals, can be shot at little more than 20,000 miles but generally should survive double this – good thing too as the replacement bill is around £3000. On the IPC auto, see it all works as it should (drive a few to gauge) and requires a service at 36,000 miles; manual ’boxes also need fresh lube every 18,000 miles.

 

What To Look For

Lotus Evora prices, specs

The Evora’s specs can be confusing. Basically, there are three set packs – Sport,Tech and Premium which can be offered singularly, paired or as a combo of all three, all affecting residuals. Valuation bible Parkers pitches prices from just over £15,000 (a trade value) to north of £84 grand; the most affordable models the base 3.5 which won’t exceed £40,000 – S models represent £21,000 and £43,600 respectively. In contrast, the top GT 430 IPS starts at £70,000. We reckon you need 30K to play.

 

Three Of A Kind

Lotus Europa S
Lotus Europa S
On paper, it sounds just the ticket to those wanting a 2+2 Elise but the Europa S found few takers and only 500 were made before it was dropped. Essentially, a bigged up Exige with 2+2 seating, so long as you don’t mind the fact that the Lotus is more Vauxhall VX220, you’ll love one. The 197bhp 2-litre turbo isn’t wanting for pace and while the handling lacks the ultimate excellence of the Exige, it’s still hugely impressive. Less so the car’s refinement levels for a GT. Great value all the same and a future classic.
Lotus Elite-Excel
Lotus Elite-Excel
From a different era, we know, but if you want a family-sized Lotus there’s nothing else. Not everyone’s favourite Lotus either but the driving qualities of a good one are not in question, especially the handling and road holding: an Excel lapped the Lotus test track only fractions slower than the mid-engine Esprit Turbo! While no paragon of refinement the 16 V Vauxhall orientated engine goes well if in good tune and gives fair economy. All models are quite family friendly with ample room for a small brood with the hatchback Elite Scimitar GTE practical, too. Values are rising.
Lotus Esprit
Lotus Esprit
Daddy to the Evora these are becoming mighty collectible and while this 70’s car can’t compete with a Lotus almost 40 years the younger they are still hugely impressive mid-ships sportsters. Early ones were rough and ready but well sorted before the S4 range took over being smoother, speedier and sleeker with some cracking derivatives such as the GT3, S4S and SE plus the gutted out V8 Sport 300 but think twice here as this 3506cc powerhouse is not without its problems. Yes, all are two-seaters but does this matter? Values can easily match or exceed the Evora but will be cheaper to maintain.

Verdict

The term ‘modern classic’ is sadly one that’s being bandied around far too often… but this Lotus fully deserves the accolade. It offers supercar looks and performance yet all for the price of an Exige or a TR6, MGC or RV8. Better still, the signs are good regarding long term durability. So before you go and pick that Porsche don’t ignore an Evora.



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