Growing up in merrie olde England during the swinging ’60s, any discussion about Lotus sports cars was usually peppered with some wit declaring: “Lotus. Doesn’t that stand for ‘Loads Of Trouble, Usually Serious’?
But all that’s changed. These days, Lotus is all grown-up, funded by cash-rich Malaysians, and a master plan to build a five-car range of exotic new sports cars over the next five years.
The blossoming of Lotus kicked off in 2009 with the introduction in Europe of the sleek new Evora. With a mid-mounted Toyota- V6 providing the power, two-plus-two seating, and race car agility, it quickly became the car of choice for the serious Euro sports car lover.
The only criticism you could make was that 276-horsepower was a little limp for a sports car costing $60-grand.
But the guys at Lotus listened hard and have now responded with their new Evora S. Bolting a supercharger to the Toyota 3.5 V6, has taken max power up a notch to a much more thrilling 345-horsepower.
Suddenly the little Evora is a serious alternative to the likes of Porsche’s Cayman R and the thundering Chevy Corvette ZO6. Now when you step on the gas, you’ll run 0-to-60mph in an eager 4.3 seconds (4.8 for the regular Evora) and the action won’t quit till the speedo is showing 172mph.
It certainly needs to be hot stuff because with a base sticker of $76,000 – and closer to $85k with all the bells and baubles – you’re getting dangerously close to Porsche Carrera S territory. And, to me, that’s not a contest the little plastic Lotus wants to face.
But all you need is one great driving road to discover the magic behind the Evora S.
And, courtesy of Lotus PR guru Kevin Smith, we recently got to sample this hip-high rocketship on the blisteringly-fast, traffic-free two-laners through the Coast Ranges hills east of Monterey, California. And that was after some hot laps on the snaking Laguna Seca racetrack.
There is truly something otherworldly about the way this Evora sweeps through fast curves. Much has to do with the steering, which has a laser-precision you only find in single-seater race cars.
Throw in leech-like grip from its 19-inch rubberware, the perfect weight distribution you get from a mid-mounted motor and a whispy 3171-pound curb weight, and you have a car that scythes through bends as easily as a chain saw through a twig.
The increased horsepower has really added a lot more sparkle to the driving. Not only is the car blisteringly quick off the line, but its mid-range thrust for rapid passing, is sensational. This baby really flies.
Less exciting is the Evora’s cabin, which looks and feels a little like a Ford Mustang’s. While the body-gripping bucket seats are sensational, the rest is fairly ho-hum, with hap-hazardly-placed buttons, teeny instruments and cheapish-looking trim. Not what you expect of a car costing $76,000-plus.
And that teeny-weeny back window and thick rear roof pillars reduce rearward visibility to near zero. It’s like looking through a mail slot.
As you can imagine, this new Evora S is certainly not for everyone. But if you revel in the pure thrill of driving and crave something a tad more exclusive than your everyday Cayman, this new Lotus is certainly worth a look.
Now you could say that Lotus stands for Lots Of Thrills, Usually Spine-tingling.