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First drive: Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.

First drive: Lotus Evora GT410
Donít mention ĎPhilís Specí. Do mention damping that is bloody well out-of-this-world phenomenal.

   



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Lotus Evora GT410

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Most Lotus models become ever more focused, ever more intense and ever more expensive as they develop throughout their life cycles, but for the Evora GT in the 2020 model year, the Norfolk company has gone the other way - giving us the most comfort-oriented version of the car yet. So, precisely how good, or otherwise, is a 'softer' Evora GT410?

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Lotus Evora GT410
Pricing: Evora range from £82,900 for GT410 as tested
Engine: 3.5-litre supercharged V6 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive with Torsen limited-slip differential, six-speed manual
Body style: two-door, 2+2 GT coupe
CO2 emissions: 239g/km (VED Band 226-255: £1,850 first 12 months, then £475 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £150 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 26.7mpg
Top speed: 186mph
0-62mph: 4.2 seconds
Power: 416hp at 7,000rpm
Torque: 410Nm at 3,000-7,000rpm
Boot space: 160 litres

What's this?

Take an Evora GT410 Sport, fit a load of extra interior equipment and sound-deadening to it, soften off the damping a tad and then charge £3,000 less for the privilege of owning it. Welcome to the 2020 Evora GT 410, sans 'Sport' moniker. This has been referred to in some quarters as 'Phil's Spec', after the current CEO of Lotus Cars, Phil Popham, who apparently wanted an Evora that was more comfortable and kinda US-spec-ish. However, make mention of Phil's Spec near Lotus peeps and they're not 100 per cent onboard with the phrase.

However, the basic tenets of the GT410's programme of possible dynamic reduction hold true. The damping is indeed closer to US specification and Gavan Kershaw, the incredibly approachable and amenable head of vehicle dynamics at Lotus (and a man who is a genius, in our eyes, but we digress), says it's basically just the shims which have been changed, to give the Evora an even plusher ride than it already possessed. He talks animatedly about the fact that when questions are asked of the GT410's suspension, specifically when the suspension is at the top of its travel, then it reveals a level of vertical control that's unexpected, given the inherent squidge in the set-up.

Beyond that, the GT410 has a larger glass screen at the back, to improve rearward visibility, less sporty exterior detailing (our test car in discreet one-colour Fire Red with silver alloys was appealing to behold) and a kit list that includes an uprated touchscreen sound system (that still looks like a shonky aftermarket installation from the late 1990s), Apple CarPlay connectivity, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, cruise control, heated Sparco sports seats, armrests on the front doors, air-conditioning, and a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres instead of track-oriented Cup 2s. The car is also configured as a 2+2 rather than the 2+0, although the rear seats look laughably unusable by anyone; we wouldn't believe it was possible to get four humans into the Lotus, had we not seen a tall colleague in the industry later take a selfie inside the very same car, with his wife and children crammed into the three remaining 'seats'. At least they were all smiling in the photo... or maybe they were grimacing, it's hard to tell. Still, the Evora has a decent cabin on balance, some clunking finishing touches like mid-2000s Ford column stalks and switchgear overcome by an ergonomically superb driving position and attractive detailing in places; the Alcantara-stitched dashboard fascia and the sloping transmission tunnel being two particular favourites of ours.

How does it drive?

We need to talk about the damping. Seriously. The glassy, thoroughly accomplished ride comfort on this Lotus Evora will boggle your mind, if it doesn't blow it up completely with its confounding ability to float along roads as if it was an air-sprung limousine, rather than a mid-engined sports car. OK, so the 'GT' bit of the Evora GT410's nameplate does hint at long-distance luxury capabilities, but when you look at the Lotus's (slightly awkward) shape and remember it has a 416hp, mid-mounted, supercharged V6 capable of hurling it to speeds of getting on for 190mph, you kind of expect it to be sharp and nimble and rewarding, if not the most sumptuous of vehicles.

But this car really is magical to travel in. Additional sound-deadening around the cabin helps its distinguished demeanour, although extra noise-cancelling wadding and different shims in the dampers cannot fully account for the GT410's excellent alone - it's more to do with what a brilliantly well-sorted chassis the Evora is operating with in the first place. And when you try and comprehend that this cultured, elegant cruiser is in any way related to the bonkers Exige Cup 430, then you just end up with a splitting headache. How a company with such limited resources can spin such wildly disparate cars off pretty much the same hardware is beyond us, plain and simple. And, in terms of the chassis, it's hardware which is all fixed-rate, passive stuff, without any recourse to adaptive this and active that. It genuinely is phenomenal what Lotus can do with a relatively straightforward box o' bits and some top-notch know-how.

With hydraulically assisted steering, making it the only Lotus out of Evora, Exige and Elise to get any sort of power assistance for the helm at all, you might think the comfier Evora sacrifices some of the legendary Lotus handling attributes at the altar of velvety comportment. Not a bit of it. It is in no way as vigorous a car to drive as an Exige, but to suggest it somehow lacks involvement or driver reward would be way off the mark. This thing is a gem in the corners, feeling like an oversized, properly powered Alpine A110 and sounding like only a mid-engined Lotus can. That V6 can still be loud and exciting by pressing the exhaust button on the dashboard, but it has a decent voice even if you keep the Evora GT410 in its quieter setting. The Lotus also has pace to burn, mega brakes, body control that's fluid, supple and always 'on it', no matter what the road throws at the car (Kershaw was right, it is never flustered in the slightest by anything you'll encounter on the public highway), and a general feeling of excellence that suffuses every kinematic facet of its being. What a stunning, stunning machine this is.

Verdict

In the interest of critical fairness, we have to dock the Evora GT410 half-a-star overall because, as modern GTs go, its cramped 2+2 cabin has one too many sub-par features for an £83,000 motor like this, and we've never been of the opinion that this Lotus is a particularly pretty thing on the outside, either. Mind, that's a subjective viewpoint and, anyway, aesthetics be damned - what you're paying for here is chassis engineering from an otherworldly realm rarely accessed by any vehicle in the mainstream. Sample the Evora's dignified manners on road once and you'll be utterly smitten with this British sports GT. So while our heads might have to go with '4.5 out of five', our hearts would say the Evora GT410 is worth about eight out of five overall, because it's a marvellous thing, it truly is.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

2 2 2 2 2 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 9 Jul 2020



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2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.

2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.2020 Lotus Evora GT410. Image by Lotus.








 

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