Lotus Evora 400 Review
The Evora 400 is the latest and greatest from Lotus Cars, a small British automaker founded in the early 1950s by engineer Colin Chapman. Chapman was obsessed with shedding weight from his cars, famously stating his philosophy as "Simplify, then add lightness." The original mid-engine Evora, introduced in 2010 and reviewed separately, may have been the first Lotus to eschew this philosophy since it was designed to be more comfortable and luxurious than Lotus' previous designs and, therefore, carried quite a bit more weight. Even so, compared to other automakers' offerings, it felt small, light and ridiculously quick on a twisty road.
After a two-year hiatus, the Evora has evolved into the Evora 400, with a more aerodynamic shape and even more power. The Evora's 400-horsepower supercharged and intercooled engine is based on a Toyota V6, which means it's robust and reliable and has a plentiful supply of parts. Though the Evora 400 may feel spartan compared to cars from Germany, it's a darn sight more comfortable than earlier Lotus vehicles such as the Elise and Exige, which adhered to the founder's minimalist philosophy with a fervor that bordered on masochism. Competing cars may get down the road just as quickly — and with more sophisticated hardware than little Lotus can afford to develop or license — but for enthusiasts who value exclusivity and a pure driving experience, there's nothing quite like the Lotus Evora 400.
Current Lotus Evora 400
Lotus offers the Evora 400 in a single trim level, and there are few choices for the buyer to make beyond paint color and interior trim. Standard equipment levels are modest, with heated, leather-upholstered seats and a four-speaker stereo with navigation. Forget about sophisticated driving aids — even cruise control is an option — though most of the other extras are geared toward saving weight. Buyers can get rid of the air conditioner, power seat adjustment, and the entire back seat and specify a lightweight titanium exhaust or lithium-ion battery. An expensive Carbon Pack saves 11 pounds by swapping interior trim pieces with carbon fiber, though it would be cheaper (and healthier) to join Weight Watchers and simply shed the 11 pounds yourself.
The sole powertrain for the rear-wheel-drive Lotus Evora 400 is a mid-mounted 3.5-liter V6 that uses a supercharger and a water-to-air intercooler to boost output to 400 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the standard-fit transmission. Lotus offers a six-speed automatic — an old-fashioned torque-converter unit, not a dual-clutch transmission favored by Porsche, BMW and other competitors. Opting for this transmission means you lose the Torsen limited-slip differential and the respect of other Lotus owners.
Though the cabin is lavish by Lotus standards, with supportive front seats and leather, leather everywhere, it's still rather minimalist compared to those of other European sports cars. The control layout is fairly simple, but the quality of components and assembly are reminders that Lotus simply doesn't have the operating budget of other automakers. Entry and exit are fairly easy, though the footwells are relatively small, with the clutch pedal crowded farther to the right than it ought to be. The back seats are so small as to be practically imaginary, and the trunk isn't much better, though it is shaped to make good use of what little space there is. Rearward visibility is also a problem.
Out on the open road, however, the Lotus Evora 400 is pure magic. The supercharged V6 provides more low-end pull than the powertrain in the old Evora S, and the handling is a delight, with outstanding levels of grip, telepathic steering feel, and brakes that feel as if they could stop time. Colin Chapman might roll over in his grave if he heard about the Evora 400's curb weight: At 3,153 pounds, it's about 165 pounds heavier than a Porsche 718 Cayman. But it still feels incredibly agile and eager to change direction. The Evora 400 may not be able to get through the curves any faster than less expensive rivals such as the Porsche 718 Cayman or the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, but it provides an organic, connected-to-the-driver experience that many of its better-funded competitors simply can't match. The Lotus Evora 400 feels as if it was designed by people rather than computers, and that makes it putting up with its foibles well worth it.
Used Lotus Evora 400 Models
The Lotus Evora 400 was introduced as a new model for 2017, though it was essentially a reworked version of the Evora (reviewed separately), which went on hiatus in the U.S. after the 2014 model year.
Read the most recent 2017 Lotus Evora 400 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lotus Evora 400 page.
For more on past Lotus Evora 400 models, view our Lotus Evora 400 history page.