For drivers who want to get the absolute best handling possible out of a car, it’s hard to do better than a Lotus. While they’re often not the fastest in a straight line, you can always count on a Lotus to be light and incredibly nimble on the track.
Sadly, despite the accolades piled onto the Elise, Exige, and Evora, sales worldwide have been incredibly slow. Even the newest model, the Evora, is starting to show its age, and while the Elise and Exige received a refresh recently, the Evora has remained essentially the same since it was first introduced in 2009. Until now.
Lotus has just announced the Evora 400, a major refresh that offers a revised look, an improved interior, better handling, and unsurprisingly, 400 horsepower.
From a distance, the Evora 400 looks essentially the same as it always has, but the front end has been changed to give it a more aggressive look and improve aerodynamics. The new front end will hopefully significantly increase downforce, because it gives the Evora a bit of a kit car look that isn’t particularly attractive.
The refreshed rear end, on the other hand, is a completely different story. It’s been reworked to be more aggressive but in a way that is much more attractive and fitting for a Lotus. Overall, the look of the new Evora 400 is still an improvement over the previous model, as it’s sadly always had a bit of a forgettable appearance.
Inside, the cabin has been entirely redone to improve the quality of the materials while also making it easier to get in and out of the car. Part of that was done by reworking the chassis to allow for a more human-friendly opening, while the doors, center console, and back seat have all been tweaked to make it feel more spacious inside.
Unlike the other cars in the Lotus lineup, the Evora isn’t intended to be a stripped-out sports car. It comes with the option for an Alcantara or Scottish leather interior, as well as the promise of a modern infotainment system. Lotus also claims that both the front and back seats are lighter than before, while still being more comfortable and supportive.
The real selling point of the Evora 400, though is the engine. It’s a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V6 that makes 400 horsepower, mostly thanks to a new supercharger. With 55 horsepower more than the Evora S, Lotus claims that the Evora 400 can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.1 seconds, which makes it not only the most powerful factory Lotus ever, but the quickest, as well.
Paired with the more powerful engine is a new dual-mode sports exhaust that can be activated with the flip of a switch if you decide you want a little more sound out of the tailpipes.
The Evora 400 isn’t just about extra power, though. The suspension has been reworked, the brakes have been beefed up, and a limited-slip differential is now standard on the manual transmission version. That means better handling and better track times.
According to Lotus, the Evora 400 lapped its private track six seconds faster than the previous model. That’s a serious improvement, and you can bet it’s a ton of fun to drive.
Sadly, Lotus doesn’t have much of a presence in the U.S., and while the Evora 400 will probably be an excellent track-ready daily driver, uncertainty about the company’s future is going to make it a hard sell. What will make it an even harder sell is the fact that Porsche Cayman GT4 is coming. Even if the Evora 400 is faster, Porsche is a much more established brand, and its future is much more certain.
You can buy the Cayman GT4 and be almost certain that Porsche will still be selling and servicing cars in the U.S. in 10 years. With Lotus, leadership changes, a stagnant lineup, and low sales make it much more difficult to buy an Evora with confidence.
That’s a shame, because the Evora S is already an excellent car, and the Evora 400 should be even better. When it goes on sale in the U.S. this fall, you’ll get more power, better handling, a nicer interior, and a look that’s less forgettable. Really, it isn’t hard to argue that those qualities are the qualities that you want in a refreshed model.
Personally, I’m pulling for Lotus. I want this to be a success, and not just because Zachary Levi drove an Evora in “Chuck.” Lotuses are built for people who really love cars, and the Evora offers almost all of the performance of the Exige but with enough creature comforts to make it a viable daily driver.
Cars like the Lotus Exige and even the Alfa Romeo 4C are amazing for track days, but do you really want to try to parallel park a car with no power steering? If you choose to do so, I highly commend you, but I personally wouldn’t want to do it.
It’ll be a little while before we find out how well the Evora 400 sells, but if it does well, Lotus will possibly be able to make the case for another generation of Elise and Exige. Fingers are crossed that Lotus will have the money to add another model or two to its lineup, and hopefully Lotus will have many years left to continue building light, nimble sports cars that enthusiasts love. If not, it’ll be quite a loss.
Check out Autos Cheat Sheet on Facebook