What an extraordinary company Lotus is. These few chaps from Norwich have managed, not for the first time, to build a car that does the very hardest things with transcendent brilliance.
The most enormous companies with the biggest engineering resources can’t beat this Lotus for its steering or its suspension damping. These are two of the most important facets of a sports car, because they’re part of the experience every mile you drive whether going slowly or flat-out.
And yet Lotus manages to screw up the easy stuff. You shut the bootlid and it sounds like a four-year-old has just chucked his Bob the Builder lunchbox onto the floor.
There are nine switches on the dash behind the steering wheel, including for significant stuff like the headlights, but to a normal-sized man in his normal seating position the only one visible is the one that opens the glovebox. The windscreen wiper doesn’t wipe the screen, it just smears it. I mean, huh?
The point about these deficits isn’t that they are intolerable. But they might cause you, at first anyway, to believe Lotus was paid by Porsche to build the Evora as an advertisement for the Cayman. These faults gnaw away inside you.
Well don’t let them. Just drive.
The whole conversation of driving is different in the Evora. It’s not just a matter of you and the car in argument with the road, setting out to tame it. No, in the Evora, it’s collaborative: you and the car and the road working together, creating a motion that’s really rather beautiful.
The steering is perfectly geared and weighted, but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is the feedback and transparency: it feels like you’re stroking the tyre treads with your fingertips.
Then there’s the way it glides over bumps, refusing to be upset, using every inch of the suspension’s generous travel without any floating or heave. That’s the genius of Lotus damping.
On the road, the 3.5-litre V6 is powerful enough. The whole car is marvellously balanced and grippy. On the track it felt like it could use more power, but that’s probably a compliment.
A Toyota Camry engine eh? Interesting that Toyota was happy to have Lotus do its own engine management and exhaust, but still let it be known it’s a Toyota engine underneath.
It’s a good powerplant – smooth, responsive and torquey. But is it an engine worthy of the chassis? Not really. How could it be?
Of course Lotus has done great chassis before. Try an Elise. But that’s near uninhabitable on a cold motorway run or in town. The Evora by contrast is properly useable. The suspension is quiet as well as supple, and the exhaust goes quiet at a cruise.
There’s room for your stuff. In fact it’s a packaging miracle: its body is small, yet behind you there’s a couple of child seats, an adequate fuel tank, a V6 and another boot.
So we all adored the Evora. Most of us wouldn’t be put off by the shonky bootlid or maladroit switch placement. But it faces another mountainous obstacle.
As specced, it’s nearly £60k, which is Nissan GT-R money. Even Lotus fans would have to admit that’s beyond ridiculous. But the basic version doesn’t compromise the driving or the comfort and that’s £47,500. Still a lot. But a drive should convince you.