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2010 Lotus Evora first drive (photos)

Lotus' ethos for building sports cars concentrates on lightness, and as such, its cars exhibit exceptional performance and reasonable fuel economy. The latest model is the Evora, designed with taller drivers in mind than previous Lotuses.

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Wayne Cunningham
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The Evora is the fifth production car in the current lineup from Lotus, joining the Elise, Exige, Europa (a Europe-only model), and the 2-Eleven (a limited production model). Although it uses some of the company's sports-car styling and construction, the Evora is built on a new platform.
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The Evora uses composite body panels, allowing for aerodynamic shaping and lightweight, along with a safety cage around the cabin. The body, while very stylish, was designed for functionality. For example, the sides of the roof bubble up, giving front-seat passengers head room, and the dip down the middle channels air toward the rear spoiler.
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Recent Lotus models have been very small and do not accommodate tall or large drivers. The Evora was designed so it could handle a 6'5" driver. There is also some room in the back for passengers, although the rear seat is an option.
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The Evora only weighs 3,000 pounds, but Lotus fits it with powerful brakes, using four piston calipers all around. The front discs are 13.8 inches, and the rears are 13.1 inches. The brake feel is very solid and shows no brake fade.
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The chassis of the Evora is designed with a central tub for the cabin, and two bolt-on pieces front and rear for the engine and suspension components. This architecture results in a very stiff car, contributing to the Evora's excellent handling.
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Lotus improves the Evora's handling with an electronic rear differential, which shunts torque to the outside wheel in a turn. The Evora also has stability and traction control, but these are turned off or toned down in Sport mode.
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Lotus sources the Evora's engine from Toyota. It is the same 3.5-liter V-6 with variable valve timing that can be found in the Toyota Venza. But Lotus fits it with its own engine control system, resulting in 276-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. In the Evora, that translates to a 4.9-second zero-to-60 mph time. The engine is mounted right behind the cabin, keeping the weight near the center of the car.
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The small trunk, right behind the engine, can hold a golf bag, according to Lotus, but not two. Its minimal size means you will have to pack light for road trips.
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Even with the midmounted engine, there is no cargo space in front. This small panel serves as the hood, covering the wiper fluid reservoir.
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The Evora is an expensive car, and the cabin shows that in its fine materials. Leather covers the seat and portions of the dashboard, and metal runs up the console.
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The steering in the Evora is extremely responsive. But we did not care for the red LED displays next to the speedometer and tachometer, which look too much like a 1980s clock radio.
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The Evora comes with a six-speed manual transmission. Lotus sourced this transmission from Toyota, where it was designed for use in a diesel car. This design means it can handle a lot of torque, which is useful for the Evora's racing capabilities.
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A Sport button, on the lower right of this panel, sharpens the throttle response, turns off stability control, and tones down traction control.
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An optional electronics package brings in this Alpine head unit, which includes navigation, Bluetooth phone support, iPod integration, and a backup camera; this latter option is very useful in the Evora.
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Lotus used the Evora as the basis for this race car, the GT4/Evora Cup Car. Although it uses the same chassis and engine, the Evora Cup Car gets a sequential gearbox and Cosworth engine control unit. The interior is stripped down, designed for the track.

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