Wednesday 11th December 2019
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First drive: Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.

First drive: Lotus Evora GT410 Sport
Lotus calls this a GT and it is easier to drive than the companyís other products. But itís no less wonderful to steer.

 



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Lotus Evora GT410 Sport

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Lotus is on the cusp of something big right now. Geely, the Chinese company behind the complete and total overhaul of the Volvo range of cars, has come onboard and money will soon start to flow into Hethel's coffers, bringing new products and the sort of financial clout that this most esteemed of British companies has never had before. But when Lotus can make cars as devastatingly talented as the Evora GT410 Sport with next to no cash, then it's going to be bad news for its competitors when the new range of machines emerges in the coming years. Interior finishing and in-car technology levels aside, there's really very little to dislike about this smashing 2019 Evora.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Lotus Evora GT410 Sport
Pricing: Evora range from £85,900
Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: two-door coupe GT
CO2 emissions: 239g/km (VED Band 226-255: £1,815 first 12 months, then £465 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 26.7mpg
Top speed: 186mph (manual, 174mph automatic)
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds (manual, 4.1 seconds automatic)
Power: 416hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 410Nm at 3,000-7,000rpm
Boot space: 160 litres

What's this?

The model in Lotus' current three-strong line-up which isn't, despite the final word in its official name, a sports car. The Evora GT410 Sport is a mid-engined GT, of sorts, with the ability to configure it in 2+0 or 2+2 cabin layouts, the latter being the one we're sampling here. It employs the same 3.5-litre supercharged V6 as the Exige 410 Sport, and it also has the same extruded, lightweight aluminium chassis as its stablemate too, but it's a far less extreme vehicle in both outlook and execution.

For a start, you can get into and out of an Evora without putting on a hilarious display of crap gymnastics, just to post yourself into/extract yourself from the interior. You open its door and just slide in, without a huge sill to overcome nor with a roofline squashing you through a gap that feels like it's about 40cm wide. Once there, you're in a plusher cabin than those found in the Exige or the venerable Elise, but by the standards of the Evora's premium GT opposition it's still going to feel lacklustre in here. The column stalks and the round joystick you use to adjust the door mirrors are straight from a Mk3 Ford Mondeo, infotainment is handled by an aftermarket Alpine head unit that looks like a ropey self-install in the middle of the dash, the instrument cluster has digital displays that appear as if they were designed when Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge on the Amiga 500 was a cutting-edge computer game, there's still a paucity of toys and equipment everywhere you look, and even by the tightest of 2+2 standards the rear seats of the Evora are laughable.

A great driving position somewhat saves its cabin, though, as do the gorgeous seats and the well-sited, nicely shaped gearlever (no exposed linkages here, though; it's a GT, not a sports car, remember. . .?), and on the outside it looks good. Not stunningly beautiful or with the unremitting purposefulness of either the Elise or the Exige; to cram four (!) seats and an engine into the middle of a car which is less than 4.4 metres long results in the Evora displaying some slightly odd proportions from a few angles. But details like the huge rear diffuser, those neat circular taillights, its slatted rear screen and its swooping swage lines make it a car which has plenty of visual interest. It looks particularly good in 'C202' Metallic Blue, as well, what with its contrasting black roof, wheels and general detailing.

How does it drive?

It doesn't drive anything like an Exige. And, believe us, this is a good thing. It is incredible how different the Evora feels, considering it deploys pretty much the same hardware as its hardcore cousin. The key differences are the sound-deadening, of which the Evora clearly has plenty while the Exige would seem to have none, the weight - the Evora's relatively heavy, for a Lotus, at 1,361kg for the manual model - and the fact it, alone of the current Lotus line-up, has power-assisted steering.

But if you're thinking the Evora is somehow the fat, lazy, feel-free Lotus, you need to have a serious word with yourself. It's maybe not quite as out-and-out thrilling as the Exige - in truth, little else could be - and nor is it even as involving as steering the Elise Cup 250, which we revisited later in the same day we drove the GT410 Sport. But there's a supple grace and fluidity to everything it does that makes it feel like an outsized Alpine A110, only with considerably more firepower. That is about the highest dynamic compliment we could pay a car these days.

Put it this way: if you were doing a track day at Spa, the Exige is unquestionably the car you'd want to drive around the majestic Belgian circuit, but you'd have to tolerate a pretty tough couple of hundred miles in it on the E40 autoroute first of all just to get to the venue. By contrast, the Evora would float down to Spa in effortless fashion and yet it would still be pretty damned exciting once you got it out on track. For that reason, there's a good argument to say that the Evora is actually the most superior Lotus of all.

To drive, it's near-faultless in all regards. While the V6 engine is muted in this application compared to the Exige, it still makes a better noise than almost all of its external rivals, possibly the Jaguar F-Type Coupe excepted. There's also no need for sound augmentation here, not when you have a supercharged petrol sitting a few inches behind your head, playing its mesmerising metallic symphony. The Evora's clearly not short of pace, putting its 416hp/410Nm to the rear wheels with remarkable effect; with that slick gearshift and well-spaced ratios to play with, there's little chance you'll ever bog the GT410 Sport down in a torque-hole and it's monumentally rapid if you decide to unleash more than 60 per cent throttle.

But it's once again the steering and damping which shine out as the most jaw-dropping elements of the Evora's make-up. The steering is a completely different beast to the hefty, unassisted rack of the Exige and yet the Evora's tiller is almost every bit as rewarding to deal with. It's light and precise and delicate and feelsome, and the consistency is such that challenging roads with a variety of different bends on them can be dealt with using such economy of hand motion that it's a wonder the Evora isn't direction-controlled by telekinesis alone. You nudge your hands neatly this way and that, inputting nothing more than a few degrees of steering lock, and the Lotus just dives in, finds a line and sticks to it. This is just glorious.

The suspension, though, has exactly that same ethereal quality that we experienced on the aforementioned A110. Indeed, so similar are these two cars that we can't help but feel Alpine maybe benchmarked the Evora for its mid-engined machine's chassis set-up; remember, the Evora has been around for almost a decade now, so Alpine would have modelled its work on Lotus, not the other way around. The GT410 Sport ghosts its way across broken-up surfaces, oozes along roads with huge and unsettling mid-bend compressions as if these obstacles weren't even there, and glides along in serene comfort when you're on bigger, wider and smoother flowing A-roads and dual carriageways as if it were some two-tonne exec limo from Germany, not a lightweight coupe built in East Anglia. It's a midships rear-driver with all the sportiness you'd expect of Lotus, and yet the Evora really does comport itself with the same sort of dignity and comfort as some of the finest GTs in the business. That, in and of itself, is one almighty achievement. And it is one of just many, many reasons why we adore the Evora GT410 Sport - and why you would too, should you decide to buy one.

Verdict

There's only one Evora to choose, as the GT410 sits alone in the Lotus GT's range - in the main, all you can select from is whether you want two pedals or three in the footwell. Doesn't matter which you go for, though, because you'll end up with one of the hidden gems of the modern motoring world. To drive, the Evora is exquisite in all conditions and circumstances; all that lets it down is a cabin that's in need of dire investment and exterior styling which could do with a little finessing. Both of these, though, are surely on the way courtesy of Geely and so we reckon there's an Evora coming in the near future which might very well be the best Lotus built so far. Some claim; but then the Evora GT410 Sport is clearly quite some car. It's majestic in every dynamic regard.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 25 Jun 2019









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2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.

2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.2019 Lotus Evora GT410 Sport. Image by Lotus UK.








 

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