TESTED: 2021 Lotus Evora GT Is a Mid-Engine Marvel

TESTED: 2021 Lotus Evora GT Is a Mid-Engine Marvel

Few things get our ears perked up like a mid-engine car with a manual transmission

  • The Evora GT was designed solely for the American market.
  • We brought this hand-built British sports car to the Edmunds test track to see how it measures up.
  • Numbers aren't everything — not many cars offer a driving experience like this one.

The Lotus Evora has been on sale in some form for more than a decade, having made its debut back in 2010. Since then, Lotus has updated the Evora a number of times, improving the car's power, performance and other aspects to help keep it fresh in the face of newer rivals. That's a good thing since the Evora has been the only car in Lotus' American showrooms since 2011.

So, how did this aging but still desirable sports car perform during Edmunds' track testing? Let's find out.

What makes the Evora GT special?

The Evora GT is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that's supplied by Toyota and related to the V6 you'll find in older versions of the Toyota Camry and Lexus RX 350. In the GT, Lotus fits the Toyota V6 with an Edelbrock supercharger making 8.7 psi of boost to achieve a total of 416 horsepower. That makes the Evora GT the most powerful car Lotus has ever sold in the U.S. The engine is mounted behind the (minuscule) rear seats and sends power to the rear wheels through either a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. The car we tested was equipped with the latter.

Like seemingly every Lotus, the Evora GT really shines when it comes to handling prowess. Remember, companies pay Lotus to tune suspensions for them. The Evora GT uses Öhlins dampers to keep it settled and AP Racing brakes to slow it down. Grip comes courtesy of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, sized at 245/35 ZR19 93Y up front and 295/30 ZR20 101Y out back. In an era when just about every car uses electric assist for the power steering — which tends to dull the feedback from the front tires in spirited driving — the Evora GT uses an old-school hydraulically assisted steering rack.

Our $116,000 test vehicle was fitted with the optional $10,000 carbon pack. Parts like a carbon-fiber panel with louvers in place of the engine cover help reduce the car's weight, though the cover is detrimental to rear visibility.

Powertrain

  • 3.5-liter supercharged V6 (416 hp, 317 lb-ft of torque)
  • Six-speed manual transmission (notably, the automatic bumps torque to 332 lb-ft)
  • Mid-engine layout
  • Rear-wheel drive

2021 Lotus Evora GT.

2021 Lotus Evora GT.

How did the Evora GT perform?

Raw acceleration is good but not astounding for a modern sports car. Needing 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph from rest, the manual Evora GT trails the comparable Porsche Cayman GT4 in our testing (3.8 seconds), though the Porsche was fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The gap widens at the quarter-mile mark, which the Evora reaches in 12.6 seconds at 110.7 mph. The Cayman was already there in 12 seconds flat at 115.2 mph. That's a big difference.

More important, arguably, is how the engine feels. Power is smooth and mostly linear, but things really start getting good from about 4,500 rpm to the car's 7,000 rpm redline. The exhaust note is among the best you'll ever hear from a V6 engine. Dip into the throttle and the response is instantaneous. It's a joy to operate.

The manual transmission is the powertrain's weakest spot, though it doesn't sour the experience. The clutch is on the heavy side, and first and second gears are a bit too tall for our liking.

As noted, the Evora GT really comes into its own when the road stops being straight. The throwback hydraulic steering setup does a wonderful job of transmitting the road surface to the palms of your hands, and it's easy to line up the tires right where you want them. Cornering is generally neutral, with just a hint of understeer at the limit. It's totally predictable, and you can coax a bit of oversteer if you back off the gas just a hair to tuck the nose in.

Get back on the gas out of a corner and the Lotus squats down over the tires as the weight shifts rearward. The suspension does a wonderful job of keeping the car flat, but it's compliant enough to shrug off midcorner bumps and other road imperfections. Stiffer is not always better.

Performance

  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
  • Quarter mile: 12.6 seconds @ 110.7 mph
  • 60-0 mph braking: 101 feet
  • Skidpad: 1.08 g

Edmunds says

The Evora GT isn't the fastest or most powerful sports car on sale today, and it's compromised in terms of tech and utility compared to its rivals. But there's no other new car that looks and feels quite like this British coupe. It's not hyperbole to say they don't build them like this anymore.



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