The Lotus Evora GT is not perfect. Yet we wouldn't change a thing. In a time when the Ferraris and Lamborghinis and McLarens of the world have to be fast and accommodate the delicate needs of privileged rich people who are just livin' life for the 'Gram, the Evora GT eschews any sort of pampering to wholeheartedly focus on one thing: driving.
The Evora nails all of the things that make sports cars great. It's got hyper-accurate steering that's not only perfectly weighted, but clearly telegraphs exactly what's happening where the tires meet the road. The wheel itself is made of magnesium, and kind of reverberates in your hand a bit, and the old-school hydraulic setup reminds you how great steering could be before the days of electric assist.
This amazing steering feel is largely thanks to the chassis tuning, which is arguably the Evora GT's single greatest attribute. Bilstein dampers use Eibach springs, and the amount of grip available at all four corners is remarkable. The chassis beautifully conveys even the smallest road surface details up through the steering, as well as the seat of your pants. This all makes it easier to drive the Evora GT faster, to push it harder than you otherwise might. The amount of confidence this car inspires in its driver cannot be understated.
Credit where credit's due, the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are amazing. The Evora GT rides on 19-inch front wheels with 245/35-series Michelins, with larger 20-inch wheels and 295/30-series tires around back. Traction control intervention varies between the Lotus' Normal, Sport and Race modes, but the tires never want to let go. Lotus also lets you turn the traction control all the way off, but thankfully the Michelins are sticky enough that you'll never encounter oversteer you don't intentionally provoke.
None of this goodness has to be dialed up, by the way. The aforementioned drive modes do change the throttle's responsiveness and traction control intervention, but that's it. There are no adaptive dampers. No variable-ratio steering. No endlessly adjustable power delivery characteristics. This freedom to just get in and go is refreshing. Let sports cars be sports cars. If you want a comfortable commuter, buy something else.
The standard AP Racing brakes (four-piston calipers with two-piece, ventilated discs) rank among some of the best we've ever used on a road car. When it comes to brake feel and ease of modulation at the threshold of ABS, nothing beats steel rotors, and with the Evora being a relatively light car, the brakes feel like they'll keep on stopping forever.
The Evora's handling characteristics are so good that it could more than make up for any powertrain weakness. But once again, Lotus does not disappoint. Sure, the Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 is the same basic lump you'll find under the hood of an old Camry, but it's heavily massaged for use in the Evora, and has an Edelbrock supercharger bolted on, because hell yeah it does. The end result: 416 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels. That's a relative crap-ton of power for a car that weighs 3,100 pounds, and the engine is mounted in the middle of the chassis, closer to the rear axle, for perfect weight distribution.
While Lotus offers the Evora GT with two transmissions, only one of them is worth your attention. This car is best experienced with the six-speed manual -- the mechanical-feeling clutch is high on feedback but not so heavy that it turns into a chore when you get stuck in traffic. Combine it with one of the best gearboxes available today and this only raises the driver involvement quotient.
From an accessibility standpoint, we're glad Lotus offers this car with a six-speed automatic, simply so everyone who wants to drive an Evora can. But the automatic transmission is lazy, slow to shift and in no way rewarding to use, even with those huge shift paddles. We cannot stress it enough: This car is absolutely at its best with the stick-shift, even if the automatic does get you an additional 15 lb-ft of torque.
We could wax poetic about the Evora's blissful backroad behavior until the cows come home. This is a car that we just never want to stop driving. It's not a total bear to live with, either -- the suspension is surprisingly amicable to long-distance freeway use. Sure, you feel the pavement irregularities, and God help you if you live in a part of the country with potholes galore (shoutout to our Detroit-based coworkers). But despite all that cornering prowess, the Lotus is willing to play along if you just want to take it out to pick up some tacos.
Inside, the sport bucket seats are manually adjustable, but can easily accommodate larger/taller drivers. The Evora's focus on being a driver's car is clear from the fact that the steering wheel and gear shifter are the nicest touch points inside the entire cabin. Still, there's enough suede and leather covering the rest of the interior to at least give off the impression that the Lotus is worthy of luxury car cash, even if some of the switchgear comes from decades-old Ford and General Motors economy cars.
There are certainly things to complain about from a daily usability standpoint, but again, that's not why you buy an Evora GT. Believe it or not, this mid-engine car does have back seats, but please don't put humans back there. There's a trunk, too, but it's best suited for a backpack or a few bags of groceries, and good luck getting that pint of ice cream home before it melts from the engine's heat.
Lotus fits the Evora with a 7-inch touchscreen that supports Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but if it looks familiar, it's because it's the same Alpine system you can find at Best Buy. Want driver-assistance aids? Too bad. The Evora GT has cruise control and a back-up camera. Enjoy.
At $96,950 to start, the Evora GT's closest competitor is the $99,200 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 -- a fantastic sports car that's a little easier to live with, but only just. Load up an Evora with a few options, including premium paint, and you can crest $130,000. Of course, it's not like Porsche doesn't drain your bank account when it comes time to order add-ons...
There are a few other great-driving cars available for less money, too, like the BMW M2 Competition or Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, among others. But none of them make us feel as alive as the Evora GT. None of them attack a canyon road with the same tenacity. None of them cause this many giggles. The Evora GT is a purebred sports car. That it's not for everyone is by design.