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Lotus Evora S review (2010 onwards)
Summary - Supercharged power unlocks the promise in the Lotus Evora we always hoped was there
We like - Realises the Evora's potential, extra revs and power boost flexibility, beautifully poised handling, tactile controls, distinctive and dramatic looks, clever tech
We don't like - Cramped inside, ropey-looking third-party nav unit, notchy gearchange, not cheap, not really a 2+2, nor as light as you'd think
For all the promise shown when it debuted in 2008, the Lotus Evora hasn't quite set the world alight the way it might have. The solution? Throw a few more horsepower at it, the result being this new S version.
Adding a supercharger to the Toyota-sourced 3.5-litre V6 engine has boosted power from the standard Evora's 280hp to a healthy 350hp. And the price by £9K to £57,550.
Changes to the suspension, gearbox and trim are also included but from the outside the only real clues are the prominent rear diffuser with its large, central exhaust. Oh, and black wing mirrors.
Positioned somewhere between a specced out Cayman S and a bare bones 911 Carrera 2, the Evora S is kind of on its own in the market. Junior supercar looks - and now performance to go with them - should help its case though.
The standard Evora drives beautifully but could always have handled more power. As the S proves admirably, the Australian-sourced Harrop supercharger transforming the rather anodyne Toyota V6 into a proper sports car's engine.
A leap in power of 70hp is only half the story though. At just 2,000rpm the new engine is delivering the same torque as the regular Evora's peak figure and with the Sport button engaged the rev limit is raised from 6,800 to 7,200rpm.
As a result the supercharged V6 has a huge spread of power, low-rev flexibility giving way to a glorious top-end howl as the exhaust opens its lungs at 4,700rpm for improved breathing and some welcome extra noise and drama.
Those 400 extra revs really open up the possibilities too, meaning the engine has much greater reach than before. And on paper the Evora S is now comfortably a match for a 911 Carrera 2.
Ride and handling
Always Lotus's real area of expertise, the Evora might weigh half a tonne more than an Elise but it still has that same sense of lightweight agility and a typically Lotus blend of comfort and poise.
There's a subtly to this balance few other manufacturers - even Porsche - can even appreciate and combined with fantastic steering feel makes the Evora massively rewarding to drive. Understandable then that changes to the suspension are minor.
In the default setting you can push the Evora incredibly hard, the weight at the steering wheel telegraphing grip levels through your palms and the Dynamic Performance Management stability control letting you drive to the limit of traction with impunity.
Press the Sport button and you get those additional 400rpm, a sharper throttle and more leeway in the stability control, even if the inherent balance and adjustability mean it's rarely troubled. The Evora doesn't just cope with the extra power, it relishes it.
Unless you honestly think your kids will be happy in the confined space behind the front seats Lotus describes as 2+2 accommodation you're better off saving yourself £1,445 and opting for the base two-seater setup.
Spend the money (and a little bit more) on the £1,750 premium pack instead, which gets you further leather choices on the Recaro seats and a much more upmarket feel. For another £2,550 you can go the whole hog with the Tech Pack.
The third-party Alpine sat-nav it brings looks a bit outdated but apart from that the Evora interior is stylishly minimal and decently put together, if a tad cramped and almost totally lacking in rear visibility.
Refinement is good though, the supercharger installation nothing like as raucous as that in the Elise and Exige, and the light controls and comfy ride add to the sense this is a car you could appreciate every day, much like a 911.
Economy and safety
Not quite as clever as the latest direct-injection Porsche engines or turbo rivals, the supercharged Toyota V6 will have you paying the price at the pumps and to the chancellor with its 27.7mpg average and 239g/km CO2 figure.
You might expect the Evora's lack of weight to help but, in fact, despite the clever aluminium chassis, there's nothing in it on the scales compared with either the Cayman or the 911.
The MSN Cars verdict
Alert and alive like no other car, with the power upgrade the Evora is now a pukka junior supercar in the 911 mould and, like the Porsche, refined and comfortable enough to be considered everyday transport too.
That it does this without diluting the essential Lotus character or DNA is doubly impressive. Sure, there are compromises. But the Evora is maturing nicely and deserves greater success and recognition.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||3.5 V6 supercharged|
|Torque, lb ft||295|
|0-62 mph, secs||4.8|
|Top speed, mph||172|
|Ratings||Lotus Evora S|
|Ride & handling||*****|
|MSN Cars verdict||*****|
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