LOTUS no longer plays with ‘track focused’ euphemisms. Even its most liveable car, the Evora, had such a barren cabin that buyers with $150K-plus made a quick Brexit to their closest Porsche dealership.
The Evora 400 replaces the Evora S as the first facelift since its 2009 debut – and it is an extensive one.
An aggressive new exterior hides a redesigned cabin now boasting easier entry and egress, with leather and Alcantara cloaking a dashboard that looks far more premium – or perhaps, less track-focused – than before.
It’s not all cruise control (optional) and heated seats (unavailable) though. A Cayman still trumps it for quality, although it seats two to the Evora’s two-plus-two. The Alpine stereo would only look at home in a Lancer MR. However, it is a giant leap forward for Lotus, a brand that prioritises the tactility of its driver controls ahead of stereo buttons.
The Evora’s beautifully light and feelsome hydraulically assisted steering remains, the AP Racing ventilated disc brakes (370mm front/350mm rear) are strong and the six-speed manual’s crisp, short throw is delightful. A new Edelbrock supercharger helps the carryover Toyota-derived 3.5-litre V6 deliver 298kW and 410Nm, rising 40kW/10Nm over the Evora S. Kerb weight drops by 22kg and is now just a bit beneath 1400kg.
The Evora 400 only feels as fast as its 4.2-second 0-100km/h claim as it shrieks towards its 7000rpm power peak, such is the linearity of supercharging. Superb throttle response is the driver’s great reward.
The Michelin Pilot Sport rubber – 235mm-wide 19-inch front, 285mm 20-inch rear – didn’t suit a soaked Wakefield Park circuit at the national media launch, highlighting this midengined coupe’s propensity to snap unless inputs are dead smooth.
The Evora 400 always feels light on its feet, however, and as the raceway dried, its stunning front-end point, rear grip and liberal stability control – with three modes: Drive, Sport and Race – combined to near perfection.
The fixed spring and damper package also pulls an Evora 400 drawcard over bumpy country roads.
It flows graciously – and quickly – between sweeping bends. A Cayman on big wheels would almost certainly need optional adaptive suspension to ride with such silky compliance.
There is little doubt this is the best Lotus in years. From $185K for the manual or $195K for the six-speed auto, it is a sharp increase beyond the discontinued $153K Evora S or Cayman GTS and into GT4-territory.
The Evora 400 is highly appealing, but until some more finesse is applied and the brand re-establishes itself locally, the price needs to shift south rather than east towards Germany.
It’s a place most Britons don’t want anything to do with anyway.
Improved interior, stellar steering and ride
Awful infotainment system, optional cruise