As the first all-new Lotus
since the LOTUS EXIGE
made its debut in the United States back in 2006, the Evora, the world's only four-seat mid-engine sports car, enters the marketplace saddled with a dual mission: Attract new, more grown-up buyers to the brand, but, equally important, don't offend the current crop of customers whose youthfulness and hardcore devotion to a range of single-minded two-seaters has helped bring the boutique Brit back from the brink. While not a savior, per se, the LOTUS EVORA
is a stepping stone for Lotus, designed to take the Norfolk, U.K.-based outfit to the next level. How? With a mature-audience hit intended to double U.S. sales while putting Porsche
on alert. Has the maker succeeded? We'll have to wait to report on the former, but on the latter, yes, quite perfectly, in fact. We hold just a few minor caveats. First, though, let's examine the Evora's general brilliance.
Lotus founder Colin Chapman once said, "To go fast, add lightness," a principle that certainly holds true in the 2000-pound two-seaters, LOTUS ELISE
and Exige, and to some extent the 3047-pound LOTUS EVORA
you see here. Like any modern Lotus, the Evora's uniqueness starts with the Versatile Vehicle Architecture, an ultra-stiff modular structure consisting of bonded and riveted aluminum extrusions. For Evora, Lotus
utilizes a 221-pound central aluminum tub with front aluminum and rear steel subframes (55 and 128 pounds, respectively) and a composite roof that weighs about eight pounds. All said and done, the complete structure, including a 51-pound seatbelt anchorage frame that also serves as rollover protection, tips the scales at under 500 pounds.
While adding lightness increases speed, so does horsepower. Given Lotus's longstanding relationship with Toyota, which supplies four-cylinder engines for the LOTUS ELISE
and Exige, it's no surprise that the LOTUS EVORA
force as well. In this case, the engine of choice is the Camry's 2GR-FE 3.5-liter V-6. Fitted with Lotus's T6e engine-management software, the FE pumps out 276 horses and 258 pound-feet in the Evora, resulting in a weight-to-power ratio of 11.0 pounds/horsepower (a 3176-pound Cayman S's is around 10.0). If you're wondering why Lotus
didn't opt for the 2GR-FSE direct-injected 3.5-liter from the Lexus Is
350 (306-horsepower, 277-pound-feet), a Toyota
insider tells us it could be for any or all of the following reasons: The DI motor would represent a considerable surcharge; its specific and high-tech engine-management system would require significantly more tuning and, thus, more development time and money; its high-pressure fuel plumbing would necessitate costlier (and heavier) hardware; and, well, maybe Toyota
just said no.