Nothing charms quite like a Lotus.

We in the automotive media tend to push sports car shoppers in one direction. Looking for something with the engine in the middle? Great, go for the Porsche Cayman. Something with a variety of power/gearbox options? Porsche has several Cayman variants. A comfortable two-seat GT with plenty of storage? Guess what: Cayman. Despite that car being about as close to perfect as it gets, not everyone wants one. Thankfully, there’s a great alternative.

It's called the 2020 Lotus Evora GT. This is the most powerful, quickest version of this vehicle to date with a supercharged 3.5-liter V6. Horsepower is now up to 416, and there’s a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission at your command. Other highlights include a four-corner independent suspension with Eibach coil springs, a limited-slip differential, and AP Racing four-piston brake calipers front and rear. This is a car that loves to be driven hard, with a vibrant personality to back it up. The Evora GT has us absolutely smitten.

2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes
2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes

Clint Simone, Associate Editor, Video Producer

  • Favorite Thing: Driving Nirvana
  • Least Favorite Thing: No Thanks At Six Figures

I didn’t quite know what to think when Lotus dropped off the burnt orange Evora GT for the week. Many who have driven it say nice things about it, but there is only one way to know for sure. After dropping into the low-slung cockpit and moving the car just five feet into my driveway, I was left shaking my head in disagreement. The seat creaked relentlessly, the emergency brake failed to keep the car from rolling back, and everything smelled vaguely like gasoline. Yep, this is a Lotus.

Cynical and curious, I started to put miles on the Evora thinking about how silly it would be to buy a car in 2021 with the build quality of something from the late 90s. But once the brakes, tires, and the gearbox gathered some heat, my furrowed expression quickly turned. I became less concerned with interior noises and just wanted to drive fast.

With over 400 horsepower, extralegal speeds come quickly, which wasn’t necessarily the case in past Lotus products that I’ve driven.

Out of the LA suburbs and into some good ol’ twisties, the Lotus captured my whole heart. The combination of a tight-gated six-speed manual and high-revving engine is a rare treat these days, and I indulged in way too many unnecessary shifts to celebrate the occasion. Because the engine is supercharged, there is a linearity to the power that feels naturally aspirated. It’s easy to predict and even easier to get accustomed to.

With over 400 horsepower, extralegal speeds come quickly, which wasn’t necessarily the case in past Lotus products that I’ve driven. But the speed and power play a distant second fiddle to the noise produced by the sweet six-cylinder. It’s chill-inducing, heart-pumping good.

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On the descent back into the city, I focused less on booting it and more on feeling out the brakes and steering. Lotus doesn’t offer ceramic brakes, but with a quoted weight of 3,175 pounds, the Evora GT doesn’t need them. The four-piston stoppers did more than enough to inspire confidence after a generous warm-up period, allowing late braking into corners and higher entry speeds.

Steering feel is fairly heavy, but Lotus baked in some great feedback into the hydraulic rack. One final point of praise: The standard Michelin Pilot Sport tires are the perfect choice for the Evora. Grip is abundant, and the tires never once felt like they held back the car’s desire to cling on.

2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes
2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes

The Evora’s price is hard to square with the quality. Before you get the chance to mob this car on a great road, it’s all but impossible to justify paying for a new Evora GT. The 2020 model starts at $96,950, but our car’s $5,900 Exige Orange paint, $450 black brake calipers, and $500 subwoofer bring the as-tested price to $103,800 before destination.

The Evora’s interior quality doesn’t hold a candle to its German rivals. Material choice is nice, with large sections of leather and Alcantara, but the finish falls short of what the price commands. At 60 or even $70,000, this would be the best sports car on the planet, but dishing out Cayman GT4 money for a new Evora would be a tough choice to make. Lightly used versions of this car in the coming years would be the way to go. However, with Lotus announcing that the Evora GT is on its way out, I’d wager that prices will stay high for the time being.

Brett T. Evans, Senior Editor

  • Favorite Thing: Goosebumps At Any Speed
  • Least Favorite Thing: Questionable Ergonomics

I’ve been looking forward to driving the Lotus Evora GT for a long time. A long weekend with a Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 got me hooked on mid-engined cars by the end of our little tête-à-tête, but I recognized that I wasn’t nearly good enough a driver to use the Porsche’s talents effectively. As such, I approached the Evora with the same kind of anticipation as a blind date with someone completely out of my league – look good, be on your best behavior, and don’t screw it up.

After introducing myself to the Lotus and exchanging some pleasantries, I cranked the old-fashioned Tibbe key and awakened the snarling supercharged 3.5-liter V6, all crackles and supercharger whine and drama and intimidation. But I needn’t have worried. A tractable throttle, easygoing clutch, and great forward visibility meant the Evora happily puttered down my narrow driveway. The Lotus even tip-toed over the collective pothole known as La Cienega Boulevard with surprising compliance, its relatively light 3,100 pounds allowing the suspension to work smarter, not harder. The date’s going well so far.

2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes
2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes

This Lotus is surprisingly happy to eat up miles, with the aggressive bucket seats offering plenty of support (if not much cushion). It’s almost like the car is trying its best to impress me, too. But at the end of this particular highway sojourn is a lightly trafficked ribbon of pavement that winds through the San Gabriel Mountains, giving me my first taste of the Evora GT’s true personality. The throttle sharpens up in Sport mode (I don’t dare try out the Race setting – first-date jitters, remember), making it easy to dial in revs when downshifting.

The multi-mode exhaust sings out more freely too, letting out a bark on every full-throttle upshift and some tuner-crowd crackles when coasting. You never knew a V6 could sound this good (much less one based on the unit found in the Toyota Camry), and punching it in the Lotus is absolutely addictive. Compounding the experience is a supercharger bypass valve that’s plainly visible through the rearview mirror, located on the other side of the rear cabin glass and doing a little dance with every twitch of the go pedal.

You never knew a V6 could sound this good (much less one based on the unit found in the Toyota Camry).

Adding to the romance is how communicative the Evora is in every situation. While the Boxster GTS requires a sporty drive mode and some speed to dictate useful feedback, the Evora could laser-etch your brain with a topographical map of the threshold between the garage floor and the driveway when sneaking out in the morning. That road feel increases with speed, too – your hands, ear drums, and tailbone are hard-wired to the chassis by about 25 mph, so you know everything that’s going on between the tires and the pavement. “Turns on a dime” was never more true than it is in this machine.

And yet, somehow the Lotus is also a capable errand-runner, thanks to that reasonably comfortable ride and decent visibility forward and to the sides. And while there’s only 5.7 cubic feet of space in the rear cargo area, the otherwise-useless rear seats open up enough room for a full week’s worth of groceries and supplies. Once they’ve experienced the Alcantara and leather upholstery, your flour, butter, bread, and eggs will never ride in the trunk again.

2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes
2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes

However, to absolutely no one’s surprise, the Lotus Evora GT isn’t the most cohesively designed sports car out there. The dash and door cards boast narrow panel gaps and evenly placed contrast stitching, and the leather/Alcantara upholstery feels lovely. But look a bit more closely and there are some interesting quirks in this cabin.

For all its faults, the Lotus is still the car that comes to mind when I think of raw, unvarnished driving excitement, making it worth every penny of its Porsche-like pricing.

For one, the dimmer switch only controls the instrument panel, leaving other interior illumination, including the Alpine-sourced infotainment system, set to bright-bright-bright. Speaking of, that head unit is clearly a Car Toys special, mounted to the dash with a tacky plastic trim piece and not much else – that said, upgrading the Evora GT’s stereo in 20 years to take advantage of future technology will be far easier than it is in any other modern car.

These are miniscule complaints, but they do show the Lotus’ cottage-racer roots, and for more than 100 large, they’re hard to ignore. Purists will say that these niggles miss the point of the lightweight, hyperfocused Evora GT, and they’re not wrong. But when the Boxster GTS 4.0 offers nearly the same thrills and more luxurious interior appointments, plus the sensible familiarity of a Volkswagen Golf, the Evora’s compromises come into play.

For all its faults, the Lotus is still the car that comes to mind when I think of raw, unvarnished driving excitement, making it worth every penny of its Porsche-like pricing. I enjoyed my time in it immensely, appreciating its intimacy with the road and its user-friendliness at lower speeds. While it’s not as good a grand-touring car as its German rivals, it’s still a compelling daily driver with a strong dose of weekend fun, and I’m not sure if I’d choose anything else if I had the cash. A dream date, indeed.

Evora GT Competitor Reviews:

 

Gallery: 2020 Lotus Evora GT: Drive Notes

2020 Lotus Evora GT

Engine Supercharged 3.5-liter V6
Output 416 Horsepower / 302 Pound-Feet
Transmission Six-Speed Manual
Drive Type Rear-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 3.8 Seconds
Maximum speed 188 MPH
Efficiency 17 City / 26 Highway / 20 Combined
Weight 3,175 Pounds
Seating Capacity 4
Base Price $96,950
As-Tested Price 106,000
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