2020 Lotus Evora GT first drive review: A reminder to drive

Cars like the 2020 Lotus Evora GT need to exist. A pleasantly tactile experience in an increasingly sterilized world, the Evora eschews driver assistance technologies and the robust magic of infotainment in favor of a highly engaging relationship between car and driver. Whether it’s a weekend track day or a brisk ride on a big canyon road, the Evora kindly asks you to shut up and drive.

From the start, the GT is a car that requires special attention. Starting the Evora is the same complicated process as before: use the remote to unlock the car, turn the key into the ignition on the right side of the steering column and then press the engine start button on the left side of the dashboard. Do it quickly too – you only have about 30 seconds to start the engine, or you’ll have to press the unlock button and start over. It’s a finicky introduction to such a simple car. But I admit it, I like it.

The V6 engine roars to life with an unusually throaty rasp. This is especially true when you consider that this V6 – a 3.5-liter lump of Toyota origin – is a heavily massaged version of the engine that powers the old Camrys is Siena. With a water-to-air charge chiller and Edelbrock supercharger, the former milquetoast V6 produces 416 horsepower and 317 Nm of torque when mated to the Evora GT’s standard six-speed manual transmission. Go for the six-speed automatic and get 15 feet of extra twist, but, well, it’s not worth it. More on that in a minute.

Operating the Evora’s heavy and delightfully mechanical clutch pedal is a joy, perfectly complemented by the crisp throws of the six-speed manual gearbox. Throw the GT forcefully into first gear and slam it into second just before the red line at 7,000 rpm; Lotus estimates a 0-60mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds, which feels extremely cautious in action.

Although the supercharger provides substantial motivation at low engine speeds, it’s best to keep the V6 buzzing above 3,500rpm. The close-together pedals mean that heel and toe climbs can be done without much thought, and the Evora is happy to always run at full throttle. Keep it up and you will be rewarded with an instant power delivery accompanied by a sweet soundtrack. The engine is hidden behind the cockpit, remember, just to feel better, my dear.

Now, about the automatic transmission: I know it makes the Evora GT accessible to a wider range of drivers, but unless you can physically handle a toggle shift setup, please don’t specify your car that way. A modern example of the term “slushbox,” the six-speed automatic is lazy when left to its own devices. And while I love the look and feel of the large aluminum shift levers, their response to inputs in manual mode still leaves a lot to be desired. Do not forget, like the engine, this gearbox was intended Venzas.

Drew Phillips / Lotus

Regardless of the drivetrain, the Evora’s steering is great stuff. The rack uses hydraulic assistance rather than a modern, electrified setup, and that means there’s more communication than you’ll find in almost any other car today. The wheel itself is made of magnesium, which allows it to “buzz” with feedback. The weight progressively increases as you go into a curve and the Evora’s reflexes are almost telepathic in their harmony with your inputs.

The Evora GT likes to be driven hard and with conviction. The lightweight chassis is incredibly forgiving and you quickly realize that the GT can handle a lot more than you’re willing to give it on public roads. Eibach springs are mounted on Bilstein shock absorbers and regardless of the transmission setting (Normal, Sport or Race), their tuning remains the same. Instead, these driving modes alter throttle response and traction control intervention, and a fourth “Off” setting removes any electronic aid. “This is not Mercedes ‘off’,” observes a Lotus representative. “This is true ‘turned off.'”

The extra credit for the GT’s richness of traction goes to the super grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, which are some of the best tires available on this side of the “family planning” aisle in my supermarket. Made of forged aluminum, the 19-inch front wheels are fitted with 245/35 series tires, while the 20-inch rear wheels are wrapped in chunky 295/30. Behind them, AP Racing four-piston calipers lock the two-piece ventilated brake discs, and there’s more than enough stopping power under the right foot, without a hard initial bite.

The dimensions and shape of the GT have not changed from his Evora 400 predecessor, and striking a beautiful silhouette on the road. A new front splitter and redesigned rear diffuser improve airflow, resulting in twice the downforce than the 400, but otherwise, the GT is essentially identical. The chassis is still largely aluminum, with many body panels made from carbon fiber. Specify the optional light package and also the front bumper, roof, tailgate (with fins!) And diffuser are made of carbon fiber. In its lightest form, the GT tips the scales at around 2,800 pounds, or around 70 pounds less than the Evora 400.

Drew Phillips / Lotus

“When you buy a Lotus, we expect you to drive it as hard as possible,” says a company representative. But even though the Evora GT is first and foremost a performer, things don’t fall apart if you end up in traffic on a congested stretch of highway. The suspension isn’t stiff enough to turn morning commuters into chiropractic workouts, and the Evora isn’t harder in town than a Porsche Cayman. It’s the car I want Alfa Romeo 4C it could be.

In fact, the Evora is almost incredibly comfortable and easy to live with. Sure, it’s a low-key thing, but you don’t have to contort your body to get in or out. The sports support buckets have four-way manual adjustment, and while Lotus will equip your Evora GT with a couple of rear seats – yes, in a mid-engined car – I’m sorry for any poor sap forced to use them.

The rest of the interior is a pretty straightforward affair, with just a few buttons for the vehicle’s controls arranged along the dash. It’s hard to miss the aging, parts bin electrical panel – you know, like the turn signal and wiper stems of an early 2000s Ford Focus or the headlight controls of a mid-sized General Motors car. from the 2000s. As fresh as the carbon fiber tailgate flaps, they make rear visibility almost non-existent. And while the 7-inch multimedia screen supports Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, it’s an aftermarket Alpine head unit not unlike the one available at your local Best Buy.

Drew Phillips / Lotus

I have to admit, it’s hard to justify some of the Evora GT’s shortcomings when you consider its starting price of $ 96,950 – or $ 131,795 in the case of my test car, of which $ 8,100 is the cost of the cyan blue paint. The Evora GT costs the same as a brand new one 2020 Cayman GT4 with several option boxes ticked, and while it’s just as exciting to drive (maybe more), the Porsche is arguably the most complete and complete package.

But no one buys a Lotus expecting a luxurious, feature-rich car. You buy a Lotus to drive out the doors and because nothing else gives you the same experience.

The 2020 Evora GT isn’t a car for everyone, and that’s the point. I’m not interested in the hilarious old electrical panel. I don’t care where the powertrain comes from. The Evora GT is a bright, no-nonsense sports car from a company that only knows how to make bright, no-nonsense sports cars. It’s analog and emotional. And I wouldn’t do it any other way.

Drew Phillips / Lotus

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