Like a hummingbird, the new Lotus Evora GT is compact, beautiful and quick. After just a few nimble maneuvers, I felt I was a part of the machine.
But first, I had to get the car started.
Laying eyes on the exclusive cyan blue Evora, I immediately wanted to know more. As it turned out, I needed to know more, because I had no idea how to start it.
I’d read about the complex start-up process that Lotus was known for, but I didn’t realize it was going to be as difficult as it was:
Unlock the car with the fob, insert the key into the ignition and turn it. And now, within 30 seconds, press the engine start button on the left to start the engine. Miss a step, or do it too slowly, and you have to start over until you get it.
Admittedly not necessarily the best getaway car, but the quirky process seemed somewhat fitting for such a car.
Aesthetic changes from the Evora 400, the GT’s predecessor, have produced a more sporty and aggressive look. The changes included a more dynamic and prominent front splitter and grille, vents atop the front fenders and more aggressive rear vents are among the updates.
However, I also noticed after the first leg of my drive from Monterey to Big Sur and back that the vents tended to catch quite a bit of road debris.
The example I drove was equipped with a carbon fiber package that includes roof, hatch and hood that save around 49 pounds of weight, albeit at the cost of $10,000.
While distracted by the start-up procedure, I didn’t fail to notice the car had a manual transmission. A 6-speed gearbox in all its glory was linked to a supercharged 3.5-liter V6 that produces 416 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque.
Even though the Evora is available with a 6-speed automatic, I couldn’t have been any happier with the manual. Interior features were an intriguing balance of performance and luxury. The yellow bespoke stitching created beautiful depth to the somewhat gray-scale theme. A unique feature were the dials for the temperature controls above the shifter with a design that didn’t take away from the performance feel.
Settled in the carbon backed sports seats, the four hour drive was much more comfortable than I initially thought it would be after seeing the bucket seats. Of course comfort is not complete without some mood music utilizing the surprising aftermarket looking Alpine infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrated into the dash. Satellite navigation and reversing camera also included as a standard.
Sitting at idle after the surprisingly raspy start up, the V6 had a throaty deep idle. Pressing a button on the dash puts the car’s titanium exhaust system into “sport” mode, separately there is another button for “sport” mode for more than just the exhaust. There also is a “race” mode.
Putting the car into gear had a surprisingly mechanical feeling. The clutch needs a strong push but the gearbox cleanly accepts your shift with a subtle locking feel that adds confidence that the car is, indeed, in gear. There’s not a lot of play in the clutch, but enough room to feather it when necessary.
At higher rpms the Evora shifts gears swiftly and smoothly. I found myself in those higher rpms often, thanks to the powerful momentum provided by the supercharger even at lower rpm.
I only had four hours to drive the Evora GT and they were the most memorable four hours I’ve experienced in a car.
Aside from the fact that I was greeted by the amazing ocean views of Big Sur, the car itself was more like a memory-making companion than just a tool for travel. The entire experience was like having an uninterrupted conversation with someone you just met but had more in common the more you spoke.
Steering and throttle response were almost immediate and predictable, but at a level of refinement that elevated your driving experience. Little to no body roll could be felt through the corners, and the rear continuously stayed planted.
It sounds cliché, but the Evora and I were a team confidently growing together throughout the drive.
Vehicle type: 2-passenger sports car (2+2 option available)
Base price: $96,950 Price as tested: $131,795
Engine: 3.5L V6, Supercharged, 416-horsepower @ 7,000 rpm, 317 pound-feet of torque Transmission: 6-speed manual (automatic option available)
Wheelbase: Unknown Overall length/width: 173 inches / 77.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,175 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 17 city / 26 highway / 20 combined
Top speed: 188 mph