By Matt Degen
British automaker Lotus has long been known for sports cars that rely on compact, lightweight chassis and small-but-powerful engines vs. the larger platforms and big, fuel-thirsty engines found in many rivals. But these qualities that make Lotus vehicles nimble on racetracks and twisty roads also result in cramped interiors and stiff rides. With the Evora, Lotus has created a larger car that addresses these issues by offering extra room and more comfort, yet retains its flingable nature. Like the outgoing Elise and Exige, the 2012 Lotus Evora coupe features a mid-engine/rear-wheel-drive configuration. The engine in the Evora, though, is a bigger, Toyota-derived V6. The Evora is offered as a 2-seater with storage in back or as a 2+2 whose two rear seats are child-only. An S variant offers more power from its supercharged engine.
If your idea of a sports car is one that is lightweight, very nimble and stands out even among thrill machines costing $70,000 and up, the Lotus Evora is worth a look.
While more livable than past Lotuses, the Evora still has plenty of compromises if you intend to use it as a daily driver. A Porsche Cayman or BMW Z4 can offer similar performance and a better ride. Also, the exclusivity of the Lotus also means a smaller dealer network when maintenance and repairs are required.
2012 Lotus Evora and Evora S models are now available with a 6-speed automatic transmission called Intelligent Precision Shift, or IPS. Lotus says the system will adapt to your driving style, and it features steering-wheel-mounted paddles that allow manual shifting.
Driving Impressions Like other Lotus vehicles, the 2012 Evora is quick and highly maneuverable. What sets this one apart from others is that it's more comfortable. While the Evora may not be...your first choice for a cross-country trip, the car is tolerable for going moderate distances. With the naturally aspirated 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, the 2012 Evora can hit 60 mph in five seconds or less, depending on transmission. The 2012 Evora S, with a supercharged version of the engine – making 345 horsepower – can do it in as little as 4.4 seconds. The Evora's 6-speed manual transmission feels a little clunky and has long throws, while the automatic is a bit smoother but far from the best out there. Braking, meanwhile, is excellent. Potential Evora owners should be aware that entering and exiting this small vehicle can be an awkward dance, and the footwell and pedal position feel cramped. Also, blind spots to the rear are pronounced.
For this larger car, Lotus went with a larger engine, straying from the 4-cylinder units used in past cars, like the Elise. This V6 comes from Toyota, and is a relative to the one used in America's best-selling car, the Camry. That's good news when it comes to reliability.
The wedge-like Lotus Evora looks like nothing else on the road. Add in the fact that Lotuses are relatively obscure to begin with, and you get a car that's an immediate attention-grabber and quite the conversation piece.
Not surprisingly, the Evora's minimalist nature extends to its cabin. Once you clamber inside, the driver and passenger seats are well-bolstered. As for Evoras with the 2+2 configuration, even Lotus admits the small back seats are really just meant for children. Back up front, functions like the climate system are controlled via large, circular knobs and a few buttons. In one sense that's refreshingly simple, in another it feels out of place for a car of this price. The optional navigation system, too, is rather plain and has just so-so resolution. A tiny rear window and thick rear pillars create blinds spots that hinder visibility.Exterior
At about 171 inches in length, the 2012 Evora is large for a Lotus, but still small by U.S. car standards. The Evora sits low and wide, akin to the racecars that inspired it. The Evora's front is defined by elongated headlights that stretch half the length of its hood. Large side air ducts sit high and directly aft of each door, while the rear haunches extend outward and have a very muscular look. At the rear is an integrated spoiler and center-mounted exhaust. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard up front, with 19-inch wheels at the rear.
Performance is the name of the game for this car, so it's no surprise that standard features for 2012 Lotus Evora models favor that aspect over creature comforts. All models employ a 3.5-liter V6 engine, ventilated brakes with AP Racing 4-piston calipers and bi-xenon headlights. Inside are Recaro racing-style seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and Alpine AM/FM/CD player with iPod connectivity.
The Lotus Evora can be upgraded with a variety of packages. The Premium Pack adds accoutrements such as a leather-clad interior, while the Tech Pack includes a 7-inch touch-screen display, upgraded speakers and a 100-watt amplifier and DVD player. Other options include navigation, two small rear seats, a 6-speed automatic transmission, heated front seats, and a backup camera.
The 2012 Lotus Evora uses a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 that makes 276 horsepower, while the Evora S supercharges that same engine to make a robust 345 horsepower. All Evora models use a mid-engine, rear-drive layout. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual. In a change from its usual course, Lotus offers a 6-speed automatic transmission in the Evora that achieves better fuel economy than the manual gearbox.
276 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (manual), 20/28 mpg (automatic)
3.5-liter supercharged V6
345 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 mpg (manual), 19/28 mpg (automatic)
A 2012 Lotus Evora with the base V6 and two seats has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $67,275. The higher-powered Evora S with the supercharged engine adds roughly $10,000 to the price. A top-of-the-line Lotus Evora S with four seats, automatic transmission, technology package and upgraded wheels can reach over $86,000. For these prices, the Lotus competes with some stiff competitors that offer more creature comforts, including the Porsche Cayman S and a base 911, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and a high-end BMW Z4. Because the Lotus Evora is a relatively rare vehicle, we expect the car to hold its value reasonably well.
By Evora S (CA) on Friday, January 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "An extremely well balanced chassis."
Cons: "A tricky entry and exit from the cabin !"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The Evora has an extremely competent chassis, fantastic braking and a beautifully designed composite exterior. Handling point to point is phenomenal, and on track will happily keep up with far more expensive counterparts. The interior, with premium and tech pack is a nicely appointed cabin. On the road it always generates lots of attention."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Lotus Driver (UT) on Monday, October 22, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Most fun you can have in a car"
Cons: "seems a little cheap and rough around the edges"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought this car new in 2011, and take it out on the weekends. The S model not crazy fast, but it gets the job done. The handling is amazing. It is a little rough around the edges (fit and trim). But then I expected that in a handmade car. It is a little hard to get in and out, but comfortable to drive once you get in. The back seats hold a small suitcase, but no real person could sit in them. Overall though I love the car."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By justaguy (CA) on Thursday, December 22, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "world-leading handling, looks, exclusivity"
Cons: "fit and finish, clutch issues, poor support"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Based on what I paid, the power is a little lacking. At $84k, the 4.9 sec 0-60 is underwhelming. Even worse, the S upgrade only takes the 0-60 time down by .3 seconds to 4.6 seconds. Anyway, the car has not held up as well as it should in the 18 months I've owned the car. I have had it in the shop about 6 times now for various fit and finish issues, and one major issue, which involved changing out the entire clutch, which took over 4 weeks to complete. It seems Lotus is very slow at providing parts to their US dealers for repairs. Yes the handling is superb, but there is more to this car than just that. Otherwise, I could spend 1/3 the money and gotten myself an Elise for ~30k. This is a true luxury automobile with a very comfortable, quiet ride and motor. I just wished the quality lived up to the price. From a value standpoint, this is the kind of car that must steal your heart in order to steal your wallet."
21 people out of 24 found this review helpful