PDA

View Full Version : Evora Review



escondidoron
November 2nd, 2014, 10:07 PM
As mentioned a little while back in Magnus' F-Type review we brecently bought a new Evora. Here is a review of our experience after 2000 miles:

2014 Lotus Evora 2+2 (naturally aspirated)

Pros:
No-vices neutral handling
Superb steering
Magnificent brakes
IPS automanual transmission
Styling
Interior materials, fit and finish

Cons:
Ingress/Egress
Rear window visibility
Secondary switch layout
No phone holder / cup holders

Summary:
Surprisingly usable as an everyday vehicle. Our Sienna Brown exterior and Cognac leather interior provide an exceptionally rich and understated appearance. The exterior styling and relative rarity draw admiring glances at almost every stop light. Porsche and Jaguar drivers stare at it. The ladies at my office all want to ride in it. My wife's tennis buddies love it.

Optional Equipment:
IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift automatic transmission)
Sport Pack
Includes switchable sports mode with sharper throttle response (standard with IPS option), increased rpm limit and sportier setting for Dynamic Performance Management (DPM – think traction control), sports diffuser, titanium sports exhaust tailpipe (stainless steel on Evora S), cross-drilled brake discs, and red painted brake calipers (black is a no-cost option).
Tech Pack
Includes upgraded speakers and stereo system with 2 x 50W amplifier and subwoofer with dedicated amplifier, DVD player, 7" WVGA touch screen display with built-in SatNav system, Bluetooth mobile phone connection, USB connection for various iPodŽ models, MP3 players and memory sticks, Tyre pressure monitoring, Cruise control and rear parking sensors.
Premium Pack
Includes a leather centre console, leather door panelling below trim band, and choice of leather colors: Ebony Black, Ivory White, Venom Red, Cognac Brown, Imperial Blue, Cocoa Brown, or Ash Grey leather. Also includes leather rear seats.
Back-up Camera
Heated Seats
Starshield clear vinyl film paint chip protectant package

Mileage: 2,000 miles
Average fuel economy: 20.8 mpg

Disclaimer:
In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that we presently own four other Lotus cars and a bicycle. So this reviewer may be biased!

Cross-Shopping:
The acquisition of the car did not start out as a new-car purchase exercise. Rather we were looking to replace our '86 911 which we had sold about a year ago. So the cross-shopping exercise started out to find another 911. Other candidates included the '01 – '02 BMW Z3M Coupe, Boxter S and Cayman S. We found it difficult to find a reasonably priced air cooled 911 in original unmolested used condition. Their prices are rising faster than the temperature in Baker in the post dawn hours in August. Late model Z3M coupes in unmolested condition are somewhat rare as well. And the prices for a used Cayman S with PDK started to make a new car Evora purchase a tempting alternative. We also looked at the 2015 Corvette and the F-Type Jag coupe. Both of those cars in base trim are quite nice. But their dealerships seem to be very proud of them, price-wise. Still, the cost of entry for those last two cars is close to that of the Evora.

Our Experience:
We now have approximately 2,000 miles on our Evora and are more and more satisfied as the weeks roll by. The exterior finish is top quality. The 2-stage paint is smooth and free from ripple and orange peel. The gloss provides a mile deep reflection. The clearcoat is full coverage. So the door jambs and all seemingly hidden surfaces are just as shiny and well finished as the exterior visible panels. We studied the 2014 color pallette and chose Sienna Brown for the exterior. Depending on the lighting this metallic hue shows up as a deep brown-gray or as an almost graphite dark gray (when we first saw the car on the 2nd floor of an all natural concrete parking structure we asked where was the brown car!).
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3932/14969358084_c05c95b1b6_b.jpg

The interior is a wonderful place for driving. Our choice of Cognac tan/brown for the interior leather is rich, warm and inviting. All surfaces are leather covered in true Lotus tradition. The aroma once inside is intoxicating. The stitching and fit of the panels is superb. The doors have accent lighting in the reveals beneath the sculpted bolsters. Our car exhibits no squeaks or rattles. The doors close with a very satisfying thunk. Candy says that it is too quiet inside. She noted after her first drive that our Turbo Esprits make much more sporty turbo sounds inside the cabin. But after taking a couple of 250 mile trips we also note that the quiet cabin is very easy to live with over long distances. The workmanship and attention to detail inside is simply superb.
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3955/15403991078_4e59ce7c36_b.jpg

But getting into or out of the car is an acquired talent. The door sills are high and the driver's pedals are just about on the front wheel centerline. That means that the front wheel wells encroach on the driver and passenger footwells. So getting my size 13 feet over the side sills requires a certain degree of agility --- unless you don't mind scuffing some of that beautiful Cognac tan/brown leather that fully covers the side sills. Note: The owner's manual says that these should be considered wear surfaces. This owner says, "Not on my car!" The Recaro seats have only two manual adjustments; fore-aft seat travel and back rest angle. However the seats are so comfortable and supportive that for us, those two adjustments are all that is needed. The side bolsters on the base and seat back are near perfect for our admittedly slim frames. These same bolsters that cosset the driver and passenger while driving also impede easy ingress / egress (see picture). We have found that instead of attempting to enter the cockpit feet first it is easier to plant your butt squarely in the seat (avoiding sliding across both the seat bottom and seat back bolsters in the process) and then fold your legs at the knees while swinging your feet into the footwell. I fear that if you don't follow this procedure there will be wear on the high points of the bolsters in a short time..... As we noted on some used examples we checked out during our purchase search. The 2+2 rear seats are possibly useful in a pinch or if you have a small child. But I'm guessing that snaking a child safety seat in the back would take a bit of work to put in place.

Once inside, and ready to move out, the first thing you notice is the lack of rear visibility through the periscope like rear window. We have 8 cars at our house with only 3 of them in the garage at any one time. And our driveway has a couple of turns to negotiate as well as rock walls on either side. So the back-up camera is an absolute necessity just to get the car out to the road. Note: I have driven a couple of Evoras fitted with the Euro style outside rearview mirrors which feature convex curvature at their outside edges and these provide a much better field of view of the rest of the world. Too bad they're illegal for new cars sold here in the USA. I'll be getting a pair of these soon!
https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3942/15430870769_c5f3f7dac7_b.jpg

Once out onto the road these issues melt away. The chassis is very stiff. This means no cowl movement over railroad crossings or high G-load turns. The steering is near telepathic. And it has good feel too, especially for power steering. My subjective judgement is that it is much better than in the Cayman / Boxter / 911. The chassis stiffness also contributes to the relatively vault-like silence in the cabin. The doors and windows don't creak or groan with body flex. The glovebox is stable and solid. The stereo with subwoofer are of high quality and effective in this environment. This car is not as quiet as a big Benz, Audi or 7-Series. But when taking into account that the sidewinder V6 is only about 18” behind your ears, it is amazingly quiet. The NVH guys at Lotus have done an excellent job in this regard.

Back to the chassis: The stiff platform coupled with Lotus' tradition for soft spring rates makes for a wonderfully comfortable ride. The car soaks up bumps and road imperfections without transmitting shock and awe into the cabin and its occupants. The suspension is firm but not stiff. The damper calibration and wheel travel soak up disturbances while keeping the tires firmly in contact with the road surface. There is negligable dive under hard braking or squat under hard acceleration. Body roll while cornering is virtually nonexistant. Under braking or off-throttle the chassis exhibits mild understeer. But tip in some power and it quickly becomes neutral. The stability control keeps power oversteer in check. This is especially handy in the wet. On the freeway the standard 18”/19” front/rear Pirelli P-Zero tires don't wander on grooved sections of pavement. Take your hands off of the wheel and the car tracks dead straight. The brakes track straight and true w/o drama. Just the feel of an aircraft carrier arresting hook when you stand on them. The 4-piston calipers and large diameter vented / cross-drilled rotors are excellent. The steering wheel is adjustable for tilt and telescope making it a comfortably inviting place to keep your hands while driving.

With some trepidation we consciously chose the automanual IPS option. This turned out to be the most difficult decision in the purchase. We plan to use the car as a daily driver and our SoCal traffic make a manual less that enjoyable in stop and go rush hour traffic. There is no shift lever in the Evora. On IPS equipped cars the center console has 4 buttons where the manual shift lever would normally reside. The 4 buttons are labeled P, N, R & D, for Park, Neutral, Reverse and Drive. There is a smaller 5th button down there as well for Sport mode activation.

While the engine and transaxle are straight from Toyota, the transmission programming is all Lotus. In automatic operation upshifts are smooth and positive. Stand on the gas from rest and the car accelerates smoothly and the shifts are positive. There is some clunkiness on 3rd-2nd gear downshifts under part throttle conditions. Otherwise I'm guessing that it operates like a Camry would if it had been fitted with a hot rod shift kit.

But press that Sport mode button and this thing comes alive. In Sport mode, the exhaust is opened up and the shift points are recalibrated. Pressing the button in neutral provides a noticibly welcome change in exhaust note. If left alone in Sport mode the transmission will shift automatically, just at higher rpm and more firmly. Also, the ECU blips the throttle autonomously on downshifts. Very cool! The exhaust note is still mild compared to a new Corvette or V8 F-Type, but is much more aggressive than in regular mode and more in keeping with the car's character. If you activate manual shift mode while in Sport mode with the steering wheel mounted paddles, gears are held until the driver selects the next gear up or down.

As I mentioned, it was with some trepidation the we opted for the autobox. Now after several spirited drives we're confident that we made the correct choice. For around town the automatic is excelent. And in spirited driving it offers rapid gear selection without taking your hands off the wheel. This makes an amazing difference in the driver's connection with the car. Previously I would not have believed that the autobox provided as much involvement with the car as a stick shift. But I now think that it actually provides more involvement than a stick. I think that it does so because of two things:
1) The flappy paddles allow the driver to fully focus on where the car is pointed by virtue of keeping both hands on the wheel at all times.
2) In Sport mode the shifts are quicker than I can repeatedly manage with a stick and satisfyingly positive without upsetting the chassis balance while cornering.

The 3.5L V6 is drawn straight from the Toyota parts bin. Its 276 Hp are the very same horses as in a Camry, Tacoma or Highlander. But installed in the Lotus chassis it provides plenty of power and its character comes alive as it never has in its native environment. It pulls smoothly all the way to redline and has a refined mechanical sound. It couples nicely with the stiff chassis to make the cabin a pleasant place to cover long distances. Just as the 4-cyl Celica engine was seemingly transformed when installed in the Elise, so is this V6 in the Evora. Even without any engine modifications or Elise type ECU re-mapping. Unless you absolutely must have more power as provided by the 345Hp supercharged S model, the naturally aspirated unit is just fine. I'm not sure of the actual acceleration numbers, but the ~0.3 seconds difference between the supercharged and NA engines is lost out in the real world. Especially when you consider that the NA model gets up to 60 mph in sub 5 seconds.

The real surprise with this car is its all around usability. The trunk space is pretty small with only the single compartment in the tail end of the car. There is no mechanical key access to the rear hatch; Its latch is released electrically from the key fob or via a switch on the dash. A remote cable is hidden under the passenger side rear seat in case the battery, which is located in the trunk, should the battery go dead. There is also a federally mandated emergency release inside the trunk just in case you should inadvertantly lock someone inside back there! There is no front storage as the radiator ducting serves as an airfoil to keep the nose planted at speed in addition to providing an exhaust path for the cooling air flow. There is however a tiny compartment up front for the master cylinder reservoir and windshield washer bottle. It is accessible by releasing a lever under the dash. It is cable operated and has a real latch, unlike the old Esprit front boot. While the trunk space would not hold conventional luggage there is sufficient volume to carry enough soft luggage for a couple to take a week long vacation ….. as long as one of the parties does not require daily multiple changes of clothes. As a testament to regular usage we took the car to Costco and got a 2-week supply of groceries and clothing (~$400 worth) back there. Admittedly this trip did not require 36 rolls of TP or 18 rolls of paper towels.
https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8581/15696814335_38d8122338_b.jpg
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7477/15696817445_c9a4deb1a4_b.jpg

At the end of the day:
We like the car more now than ever. At our purchase price point there was no other car available new (and few used) that could effectively compete with it. It is very confidence inspiring and rewarding to drive. The interior switchgear takes some getting used to (I couldn't figure out how to open the glove box and get the high beam lights to stay on until after I read the owner's manual). The Sport mode button should be on the steering wheel, not located right next to the transmission's Park button. And my wife says she won't be getting in and out of the car in public if she is wearing a short skirt. Parking and backing up in tight spaces requires practice due to the U-boat rear window visibility. The interior is so comfortable once inside it is a shame there are no cup holders or convenient place to stash your phone. Especially in light of the stereo's bluetooth and smartphone enabling features. But the driving experience more than overcomes those gripes for us (see disclaimer at the beginning). If Lotus wishes to expand their market in the US, they need to address the ingress / egress issue with the next generation Evora that is promised to be coming stateside in 2016. If they do, it might just be a home run.

moosetestbestanden
November 3rd, 2014, 04:17 PM
In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that we presently own four other Lotus cars and a bicycle. So this reviewer may be biased!


You wouldn't mean the Chris Boardman bike from the early 90's? That thing was so cool!

I almost forgot, thanks for the great writeup on the car too. :-D

Clark
December 5th, 2014, 04:03 PM
That's a great review of the Evora and it appears that you now have a very beautiful and unique new car in your stable. One question though, how do you decide each morning which one to drive?
I'd like to be put on your short list for rides if there's ever the opportunity!
Best wishes,

escondidoron
December 12th, 2014, 08:07 PM
You wouldn't mean the Chris Boardman bike from the early 90's? That thing was so cool!



No. I wish! My bike is a Lotus brand bike made by a company named by a New York based company named Lotus International. The bike was actually made in Japan by Tsunoda. But it's still a fairly nice early '80's vintage piece of kit.


.................... how do you decide each morning which one to drive?
I'd like to be put on your short list for rides if there's ever the opportunity!



It's a tough decision. HaHa. We just drive whichever one seems appropriate on any given day. I just try to make sure that they don't get jealous of each other. :)

As for a ride, let me know if you're ever down Escondido way. Maybe we can make something happen.