You might expect a car such as the Lotus Evora GT410 Sport to feel intimidating. Such thoughts would not be unjustified; the compact coupe packs a supercharged V6, after all, which dispenses a not-insignificant 410bhp to the rear wheels.
Those wheels are also shod with aggressive Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, which – at a glance – might appear ill-suited to our oft-saturated roads; couple all that with the 3.5-litre V6’s 302lb ft, which is channelled through a six-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip differential, and you may well deem this a recipe for a thoroughly alarming time.
Surprisingly, however, the svelte mid-engined Lotus feels anything but intimidating. Despite the fact that it’s capable of 0-60mph in just 4.0sec, and despite all of the above, it immediately sets about proving itself to be an accessible, civilised and gratifying sports car.
And, when we say ‘immediately’, we mean it. If you’ve ever driven a car such as this, you’ll be familiar with the acrobatics often required to ungracefully but successfully deposit yourself in the driver’s seat. Yet, here, getting in and comfortable promptly proves a comparative doddle. This pleasant simplicity blunts any initial concerns, and you soon realise that this is clearly a car that’s been designed for all drivers to enjoy.
SPELLBINDING PERFORMANCE, EVEN IN THE WET
Just to add an extra frisson of excitement, it is – naturally – raining on the day of our road test, which may prompt those fears about potential unruliness to creep back in.
Sure, it’s easy to overpower the rear axle if inclined – but acclimatising to its limits takes no time at all. Soon, you’re revelling in the glorious sensation of allowing the sonorous V6 to wind its way to the redline, exhaust blatting as the Edelbrock-sourced supercharger merrily whines over your shoulder.
Once again, though, the Lotus rapidly tasks itself with quelling any concerns regarding intractability; thumb the starter button and the 3.5-litre V6 barks into life and settles into a clean and steady idle. Head out on to the road and, as you squeeze the accelerator, what first strikes you is the almost prodigious traction on offer. It’s wet, there’s standing water around, yet the Lotus and its Michelins put down the engine’s stout supercharged torque without fuss.
Unsurprisingly, the Evora continues to shine once you spear off the straightaways. The powerful brakes don’t grab, the gear shift is precise, the clutch easily judged, the ride sporting yet supple, and the steering slick and responsive. Turn the wheel and the nose simply darts in the desired direction; you will, without a shadow of a doubt, feel in complete and intuitive control. This is a car that communicates continuously with you, both through the base of the solid yet supportive sports seats and through the controls. As you learn to interpret this constant and reassuring chatter, you begin to realise the true scope of the talent on offer and how to extract it.
That’s not to say that it’s perfect. For example, the indicator stalks are set fractionally too far back from the steering wheel – meaning you have to stretch your fingers to reach them – and the cabin can be noisy. Otherwise, somewhat incongruous Alpine head unit aside, the interior is neatly presented and the Evora feels like a quality product.
Alas, there is one other major catch: this GT410 Sport, in standard specification, costs a staggering £85,900. Tick several choice option boxes, such as the £5,500 one for Ohlins dampers, and you too can pay almost £100,000 for a car that was effectively first unveiled over a decade ago.
Walk into the nearest Porsche dealer brandishing a suitcase stuffed full of cash and you’ll find that a mere £75,348 could land you in the new 718 Cayman GT4 – which subsequently makes a new Lotus Evora a hard sell, at least on paper.
A CAR FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR SOMETHING TRULY SCINTILLATING
Of course, you could sidestep this issue by opting for a second-hand Evora. Cast your eye over the classifieds and you’ll immediately find Evoras on sale for upwards of a far more appealing £25,000. Many will be early naturally aspirated examples but, even so, they still pack 276bhp and are capable of 0-60mph in 4.8sec.
If you’re set on a supercharged car, you’ll have to pay around £35,000 for one of the 2010-on 345bhp Evora S variants. Similar money will get you into a far more recent used Porsche Cayman, but it’ll be less powerful and serve up what is arguably a less involving, less rewarding experience than the Lotus alternative.
The same applies to the line-up of modern Caymans, GT4 aside. And the new Alpine A110? Well, you can only have that with a dual-clutch transmission – and the lightweight A110 delivers a more restrained, subtle and less tactile experience than the supercharged Evora.
The Lotus also has an exotic edge and rarity on its side, compared to rivals such as the Porsche. Furthermore, potential owners need not even worry about reliability. You might run into the odd minor glitch but, for the most part, Evoras have proven themselves to be solid and dependable machines.
As a result, new or used, the Lotus makes for an evocative proposition. It’s sublime to drive, easily enjoyed at sane and civil speeds, a delight to master, comfortable enough to tour in and durable enough to exploit without fear of leaving a trail of shattered pistons in your wake.
It is expensive compared to many alternatives, without a doubt – but drive one and you may immediately deem the premium worth paying. If the mainstream high-end sports cars leave you stone cold, and you’re seeking something more compelling, this really should be at the sharp end of your list of alternatives.
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