by Ian Wright
Driver's cars are not often defined by how much power they make, nor are they as widely popular as the cars that beat them on paper. The Lotus Evora GT is one such niche sports car, and the way it handles and feels is near impossible to eclipse. The British brand has fitted the mid-engined machine with Toyota's 3.5-liter V6 and supercharged it to generate 416 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. A six-speed automatic is available too, and this gets a little more torque, with 332 lb-ft. Although Lotus doesn't build cars to break power records, this new model is the fastest and most powerful road car ever sold by the brand on American soil. Does this compromise it or make it better, especially in the esteemed company of the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4?
The GT is an all-new model for Lotus, replacing the Evora 400. Besides more power, downforce is also increased to 141 pounds at top speed, and some slight styling changes have been made to set it apart from the cars it replaces. It sheds weight, too, losing 71 lbs compared to the Evora 400.
See trim levels and configurations:
3.5L Supercharged V6 Gas
The Evora GT wears a face that is aggressively happy, if that makes sense. The sharp bi-xenon headlight housings have a shark-like appearance to them, while the gaping center grille looks like a mouth smiling with sharp teeth. A subtle chin spoiler completes the look, while a set of staggered 19/20-inch wheels adds presence. At the rear, a louvered window sits ahead of a subtle duckbill spoiler, while a central exhaust in a meaty diffuser is framed by vents on either side of the rear bumper.
As you can probably tell from the images, the Evora GT is a pretty small car. Its length measures just under 173 inches, while the car's width is 77.6 inches. The roof sits 48.1 inches above the ground, and the wheelbase measures 101.4 inches. Curb weight starts at just 3,175 pounds for the manual version.
A huge selection of paint colors is available for the Evora GT, with 29 different finishes to choose from. Solid colors are limited to Monaco White and Formula Red, while metallic options ($3,750 each) include Evora Silver, Nightfall Blue, and Motorsport Black. 14 different premium paints are on offer, but some of the most striking include Vivid Green, Exige Orange, Daytona Blue, Fire Red, and Sky Blue. Each of these will set you back $5,900. Exclusive paints include Aubergine Purple, Cyan Blue, 3-Eleven Red, and Burnt Orange, with these adding $8,100 to your bill, while two bespoke options are available in Liquid Yellow and Verde Ithica. Regardless of your chosen color, the roof is finished in black but can be opted for in woven carbon fiber.
The Evora GT is a standalone model and it has some pretty impressive numbers to back up its shrunken supercar looks. The mid-engined sports car is powered by a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 that has had a supercharger strapped to it to produce 416 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque when paired with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. If you opt for the available six-speed auto, torque jumps slightly to 332 lb-ft. However, the manual has a higher top speed of 188 mph versus the auto's 174. Whichever you opt for, Lotus claims 0-60 mph is achieved in just 3.8 seconds. Another reason to opt for the manual is that it is accompanied by a limited-slip differential, enhancing handling ability and cornering performance.
As standard, the Evora GT's 3.5-liter supercharged V6 power plant produces 416 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. Should you opt for the six-speed automatic gearbox, torque is increased marginally to 332 lb-ft. Whichever configuration you opt for, the engine is smooth and powerful, happily whizzing to the redline with no complaints and, in a car that weighs as little as this one does, the experience is exhilarating. The notchy stick shift is a joy to use, although the clutch can be a little heavier than some may like. If that's a problem, you can opt for the auto, but the experience is less exciting. It's neither the quickest nor the smoothest auto we've ever experienced, and the steering-mounted paddles react just a fraction too slowly to be considered good. Nevertheless, the overall package is still good, and you can tell that this car was engineered to be more fun than comfy.
If you expect the GT in this car's name to represent luxurious comfort, you will be sorely disappointed. There is no adaptive suspension here, and it's tuned to perform while being just about comfortable enough on the road. The car is built to feel and be as mechanical as possible, which is refreshing in the age of soft daily-driver supercars. The clutch is heavy, and the shifter is hefty. That's great for when you want to lay down the power, but far from ideal in traffic. But that's exactly what Lotus wants this car to be like. You require actual skill and experience to get the best out of the Evora GT. This means that it can be a bit of a handful on the limit, but if you know what you're doing, it rewards you with incredible traction and neck-straining cornering ability thanks to sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and, on the manual model, a limited-slip differential.
The Evora GT brings many cliches to mind with its telepathic steering, ultra-communicative steering feel, and mechanical gear shift that slots into place like with heavy rifle-bolt precision. In this case, these are cliches that the car has earned every right to lay claim to.
It feels light, intuitive, and raw. There's little this side of a Caterham Seven that feels even close to this on the road. The trade-off is a firm suspension setup, but at least the AP Racing brakes are easy enough to learn to use and offer plenty of bite with a perfect pedal feel, something which can be tricky to achieve with a light car.
Then you can turn on Sport mode - because it's easy to forget there is one on the Evora GT as it's already tuned to tear a road to pieces. The throttle response becomes even sharper, and the exhaust opens up to deliver a full-throated rumble that turns into a roar as the engine winds up. Rarely does a V6 sound so good, and the frantic whine of the supercharger accompanying it adds to the car's freneticism. Because the engine is mid-mounted, if you glance into the rearview mirror, you can see the waste-gate moving with the throttle input. However, the engine is mainly what you see, making rear visibility terrible.
If you want something that grips, turns, and handles viscerally like an old-school track car but with a little more ease of use, this is the car to go for. We took it for a longer GT style run to the coast some long freeway trips, and after a couple of hours, the Evora GT became tiresome. When it came to driving for pure entertainment's sake, though, we didn't want to give it back at the end of the loan.
There isn't much difference in fuel economy estimates between the manual and automatic variants of the Evora GT. The auto achieves figures of 17/24/20 mpg on the EPA's city/highway/combined cycles, while the manual is slightly better, with figures of 17/26/20 mpg on the same cycles. Both are fitted with a 14.5-gallon gas tank and should return an average of around 290 miles with mixed driving. On longer drives, we hit the 20 mpg mark but in fun mode that number shrinks drastically.
The Evora GT is a car with a pretty small cabin, and although there are plenty of surfaces covered in leather, Alcantara, and aluminum, you can see that it's not going to be a comfortable place to be confined to for extended periods. The seats are notably close together, and the roof is low, but for the driver, it's not too bad, since everything is angled in that direction. Traditional gauges in the cluster are joined by a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display from the Alpine aftermarket catalog, but although it is neatly fitted, it does look like a bit of an afterthought. There's just one cup holder, and that sits awkwardly behind the driver's right elbow. However, it all feels sporty, and the driving position and forward visibility are just about perfect, which is the ultimate goal.
The Evora is a two-seater, but you can spec a 2+2 configuration if you feel like being sadistic to rear passengers. There is no way that any normal adult will fit in the back, even if height and body mass are low. Children could just about squeeze in, but they won't see much besides the backs of the front seats. Speaking of which, the sporty front chairs are supportive enough but can be a bit too firm once you've been in them for a while. On the plus side, all controls are in easy reach, and the view out the wraparound front windscreen is superb. Unfortunately, the rear is almost a waste of material, and blind spots are everywhere rear of the front seats. Reversing the Evora GT is more an act of bravery than skill.
It's always nice to step into a cabin where there is little to no plastic, and that's the case with the Evora GT's interior. Leather and Alcantara are generously slathered over the door panels, dash, and seats. The gear-lever is aluminum while the steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara with a red stripe at the 12 o'clock position. Carbon fiber can be had over the instrument cluster and on the door sills, while the seatbacks can be fashioned from the stuff too. Contrast stitching in silver, white and red, or white and yellow is available, and the center console and some door accents can be painted in the same color as the exterior. Alternatively, you can have a choice of seven other finishes, including Solid Red, Gloss Red, Metallic Orange, and Metallic White. The seats themselves can be finished in either black or black with red inserts.
Once again highlighting the Evora GT's focus on being a pure sports car is the lack of real cargo space. There's no front trunk, and the rear hatch has a space for storage that is so small that Lotus doesn't even disclose how big it is. On a shopping trip, you could fit a loaf of bread, some eggs, and a quart of milk in there, but not much else. And, it had better be a short trip to the grocery store as the engine heats the cargo space so you could end up getting home with hot milk, cooked eggs, and dry bread. We even had trouble fitting a normal-sized rucksack full of photography gear in and shutting the rear lid afterward. Our test model came with the optional rear seats, and we soon discovered their value for holding a couple of bags.
Just to hammer home how paired down the Evora GT is, the glovebox is pitifully small, the door pockets are just incredibly small, and there's nowhere to store your phone safely. The single cupholder is the final nail in the impracticality coffin.
The Evora GT isn't exactly blessed with a long list of features. There are no advanced driver aids whatsoever, and you have to make do with just anti-lock brakes, traction control, a rearview camera, and a mechanical limited-slip differential - assuming that you've opted for the manual gearbox. You do also get variable drive modes, but these only alter throttle response and other performance-based parameters. You do get rear parking sensors, keyless ignition, and cruise control, but other commonplace luxuries are intentionally overlooked.
The Alpine infotainment system in the Evora GT is perfectly serviceable for the basics, and in this car, that's all it needs to do. It's got a seven-inch touchscreen display, and it supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with Bluetooth. However, although it also includes navigation, the system looks very cheap and non-OEM. It also doesn't have any knobs, only tiny buttons beneath the screen, so adjusting the volume or other settings is an annoyance, especially without any steering functions and hard suspension. Still, at least you can upgrade the sound system with an amp and subwoofer for $500 if you want a bit more power.
Thus far, the 2020 Evora and its 2019 predecessor have been completely free of recalls. This shouldn't be a surprise, as the base car has been in production for years now and all issues ought to have been ironed out.
Should anything go wrong, the Evora GT is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile limited and powertrain warranty, but no complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered.
As you can expect with a low-volume sports car like this one, the Evora GT has not been tested by either the NHTSA or the IIHS. Due to a lack of advanced driver aids, it's best to be careful when driving this car on public roads.
There isn't a whole lot of safety equipment available for the Evora GT, but you do at least get frontal and side-impact airbags. Beyond that, the usual rearview camera, anti-lock brakes, and traction control systems are included, but not much else keeps you on the road and pointing in the right direction.
As a car, the Evora GT is pretty poor. It's cramped inside, it's got no space to store anything, and there are almost no luxury features at all. However, when you look at it as the pure, dedicated, focused sports car it is, your appreciation for it grows quickly and considerably. There are almost no truly mechanical cars on sale these days, and the Evora, despite its modern styling and lofty price, is one of them. This isn't from a lack of attention by the designers and engineers, and it's not because Lotus can't afford to develop these systems for the Evora. We get the feeling they begrudgingly did a few things to make the Evora easier to live with, ticked off the list, then went back to turn it into a laser-guided missile.
The result of the Lotus engineers' dedication is a car unlike any other available today. A vehicle that handles like a racecar and accelerates like there's a fire in the trunk. It's incredibly special and only for discerning individuals who are willing to learn how to drive properly and without electronic gubbins stepping in. This car rewards smooth inputs and punishes ham-fisted driving when pushed hard. This makes it a superb track car or weekend toy but is only a daily driver for enthusiasts into self-flagellation.
The Evora GT is a standalone model that starts at a base price of $96,950, before a destination charge of $1,885. Various options like a carbon fiber aero kit can inflate this somewhat, but if you go all in, you could spend as much as $138,000 for a fully loaded model.
The Evora GT is only available in a single trim, although you can choose your transmission. The base car is powered by a mid-mounted 3.5-liter supercharged V6 that sends 416 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. If you opt for the automatic, you get the same power output accompanied by 332 lb-ft of torque. However, the manual is the better option, as it comes with a limited-slip diff and is capable of a higher top speed of 188 mph, while the auto can only reach 174 mph. Both versions claim a 0-60 mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds. The Evora GT comes with 19-inch wheels up front with 20s at the rear, and the interior features carbon-backed front seats, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display, and plenty of Alcantara and leather upholstery. Climate control, cruise control, and variable drive modes are standard, but there isn't much else available.
There isn't a huge amount of choice available for the Evora GT, but you can opt for a carbon fiber exterior package that includes a carbon front lip and rear trunk-lid spoiler for a whopping $10,000. There's also an upgraded sound system available with a subwoofer and an amplifier that sells for a much more reasonable 500 bucks. You can also opt for a titanium exhaust system for a louder, more exciting note at $8,000, and there's the option of the aforementioned automatic transmission for $2,700. You can also choose custom finishes for the interior upholstery or the exterior paint, but there's not a lot else to pick from.
The Evora GT doesn't have a lot of available options, but the one that we'd certainly look past is the six-speed automatic. The manual is just so good and the benefit of a higher top speed, similar acceleration, and better grip thanks to that LSD combine to put the auto completely out of the running. The titanium exhaust is also tempting, but we don't see much value in the upgraded sound system. Beyond that, most other choices are aesthetic and will come down to personal preference.
It's a tough draw for the Lotus, being put up against one of the most-loved sports cars of its time. The Porsche Cayman GT4 is a little more than two grand pricier than the Evora GT, but it comes with a 4.0-liter flat-six that develops just two horsepower less than the Evora's power plant. The GT4 is not available with an automatic, but this is no bad thing. Although the GT4 is a similarly performance-focused machine, it has a more comfortable interior, a much better and more user-friendly infotainment system, and the option of features like dual-zone climate control, heated seats, and a Bose sound system is a big reason that the Porsche is the more complete all-round package. However, if performance is your only factor for consideration, these two are very closely matched on paper, and it would be best to drive each before making a decision.
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is one of the best sports cars to come out of the States and is arguably a bit too much for the diminutive Lotus to deal with. On paper, the Corvette demolishes the Evora, with its 6.2-liter V8 producing up to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It also has a usable 12.6 cubic feet of overall storage volume (8.6 cu-ft up front) and a top speed of 194 mph, while 0-60 mph can take as little as 2.9 seconds. However, the 'Vette has no rear seats at all. Still, that's a very small factor in cars like this, and with the C8 starting at just $58,900, it's a performance bargain, even when you aren't comparing it to the Evora GT. Ultimately, the Stingray is more comfortable, has more space, and is faster. But for spirited driving on twisty roads, the Corvette won't even see the GT as it disappears way up the road.
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