by Roger Biermann
The last time Lotus offered anything road-legal in the US of A was 2014, when a very similar looking Evora to this here Evora 400 was sold to the buying public. Two thirds of the Evora 400 are allegedly brand new though, along with an updated Toyota-sourced powerplant receiving heavy revisions. The lightweight 2+2 sports car is unique in that it’s mid-engined – one of the few combining those two traits – but that in no way makes this a Porsche 911. The Evora 400 is something else entirely, and Lotus is a very, very different brand to what Porsche has molded themselves into.
By any other car’s standards, barring perhaps the Alfa 4C, the interior of the Evora 400 is a pretty spartan place to be. By Lotus standards, this may as well be a Rolls-Royce. It’s still a simplistic place though; a slab of a dashboard, a simple leather steering wheel with thumb grips and a 12 o’clock marker. The bucket seats sit low offering an excellent driving position, but the front foot well impedes leg space, resulting in a rather snug fit. Front visibility is exceptional, but rearwards it’s very poor.
Though classified as a 2+2 seater, the rear bench is completely unusable for human occupants. However, it functions as some much needed storage space, and can be deleted as a no-cost option. That’s probably best, too, as the cargo bay squeezed behind the engine offers little usable space, though it’s wide and deep enough to be functional, some of the time.
Simplify, then add lightness – Colin Chapman’s famous philosophy at Lotus rings true still for the Evora 400, weighing less than 3 200 pounds. The hydraulically assisted steering is light, but impeccably precise and drips with feedback. But at the limit the front end can get light – a safety net for the mid-engine sports car. Control the body movements and balance the weight, and the Evora is spectacularly balanced. There’s never a lack of feedback, and the Evora communicates its next move deftly. It’s in this regard that the Evora betters the opposition, but in overall levels of grip it can’t quite match the Corvette Grand Sport. The suspension is firm, but decently comfortable; however with the engine mid-mounted, there are amounts of nose pitch and jump with prods of the throttle and brakes. The brakes are exceptional – four piston calipers and 2-piece rotors are sufficient enough to negate the need for carbon ceramics.
Despite the Formula 1 pedigree, the rear deck lid houses an unlikely engine – one supplied by Toyota. However Lotus has added a supercharger to the 3.5-liter V6 and reworked the cooling systems in order for the V6 to deliver 400 horsepower (hence the 400 in the name) and 302 lb-ft of torque. Twist gets delivered to the rear wheels via a standard short-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, with a 6-speed automatic available with paddle shifters. Accelerative performance for both is identical, 0-60mph taking 4.1 seconds, but on top end the manual’s 186mph figure edges out the auto’s 174mph figure.
Standard kit is generous for a Lotus – ensuring the Evora 400 is usable. You get a double DIN radio system with navigation, air conditioning, heated seats, and a reverse camera and park sensors. Optional choices include 3 interior trims; standard (leather and cloth), full leather, or Alcantara; cruise control, a titanium exhaust, and a sub-woofer and amplifier in addition to the standard 4 speakers. Other no-cost options include the rear seat delete and air conditioning delete for those who wish to embrace the lightness. In terms of safety, you’ll get AP Racing brakes with ABS, as well as stability control with selectable drive modes.
The Lotus Evora 400 lacks the overall finish of many of its rivals such as the Corvette Grand Sport and Audi TT. The trade-off though, is you get one of the finest handling sports cars this side of a 911. However it’s much of a one trick pony in that aspect and others offer a complete all-round package.