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2020 Lotus Evora GT First Drive: More Cars Like This, Please

Superb handling, cute yet aggressive design, and stellar performance, all in a sporty English package that can put even the best of cars to shame. Yes, we are talking about the brainchild of Colin Chapman, Lotus Cars. And the car in question, the all-new 2020 Lotus Evora GT.


Overview:

The 2020 Lotus Evora GT is currently the British automaker's lone American-market model, and it sells in tiny numbers. But this lightweight sports car has exotic engineering elements and delivers fantastic handling. The former is evident by its mid-engine layout and Lotus pedigree. The latter is results from its light weight and telepathic steering. The Evora shares an engine with some Toyota models, but adds a supercharger that sings at high engine speeds and helps it accelerate with alacrity. Lotus left out active-safety features and luxuries common in competitors in an attempt to maximize driver engagement. Although there are more-acclaimed and more-affordable sports-car alternatives, few can equal the Evora GT's driving purity. None can match its exclusivity.

What's New for 2020:

The GT nameplate replaces the previous 400 moniker for 2020, but the mid-engine Lotus is only mildly updated. Lotus increased the Evora's horsepower from 400 to 416, lowered its curb weight, doubled its aerodynamic downforce, and tweaked its exterior styling.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance:

Every Evora GT features a mid-mounted, supercharged 3.5-liter V-6 that makes 416 horsepower and either 317 or 332 lb-ft of twist; cars with the six-speed automatic transmission get the additional torque. Power is funneled to the rear wheels, with the manual gearbox adding a limited-slip differential for improved traction. The Evora GT we tested wore dazzling Cyan Blue paint and was equipped with the manual gearbox. It launched from zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds flat and completed the quarter mile in 12.4 seconds at 111 mph. Its Toyota-sourced V-6 is smooth and torquey, and its supercharger emits a thrilling howl once the tach needle swings past 4500 rpm. While we appreciated the shifter's scintillating mechanical feel, the clutch-pedal effort felt heavier than we'd like. Our GT tipped the scales at just 3112 pounds, which is 100 pounds less than the last Evora we tested. The expensive Extended Carbon pack not only reduced its weight with several carbon fiber body panels, it also added aerodynamic downforce for improved high-speed cornering grip. We loved how chatty its steering feedback is, and how effortlessly the car knifed around corners. The Evora GT rides on 19-inch wheels up front and 20s out back that are wrapped with a set of super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. This setup helped our tester generate at 1.04 g on the skidpad and stop from 70 mph in just 148 feet.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG:

The EPA lists two different city and highway ratings for the Evora GT. With the automatic transmission, it's expected to earn 17 mpg city and 24 highway. Models with the manual gearbox are associated with the same city rating but a higher highway estimate of 26 mpg. Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to test the Lotus on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which would help us evaluate its real-world highway fuel efficiency.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo:

The Evora GT can hold either two or four occupants, depending on whether you choose to equip it with the optional rear seat. But don't be misled: adults will find squeezing into the Evora's rear compartment as impossible as jamming themselves into a child seat. At least the cabin is covered in faux suede and features aggressive Sparco carbon-fiber front seats standard. The dashboard design isn't cutting-edge, but it mixes physical switchgear with a cool-looking instrument cluster. While the cockpit prioritizes the driver—as every true sports car should—the Evora's innards can be customized via Lotus's Exclusive program. This allows owners to select non-standard paint colors and special leather upholstery. Unfortunately, the Evora's cramped cabin and thinly padded front seats are not comfortable for long periods of time. The build quality inside is also questionable, with squeaky trim pieces and flimsy doors. True to its all-about-the-driving nature there's only a little cargo area underneath the rear hatch, no front trunk, and a dearth of interior cubby storage.

Infotainment and Connectivity:

While every model comes standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as built-in navigation, the Alpine audio unit looks like it was pulled off the shelf at an electronics store. Not only is it out of place in the racy interior, it lacks intuitive volume or tuning knobs. Instead, the user must rely on tiny buttons that span the bottom of the bezel to adjust the volume and change stations. Those who want to upgrade the stereo can opt for an amplifier and a subwoofer, though.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features:

The 2020 Evora GT hasn't been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Those who care about having all the latest driver-assistance technology will be disappointed, because apart from rear parking sensors, the Lotus saves weight and reduces complexity by leaving out all of those safety nannies.

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage:

Lotus falls short of other sports cars when it comes to warranty coverage. Not only are its limited and powertrain warranties below average, but the Evora GT doesn't come with any complimentary maintenance.

Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
No complimentary scheduled maintenance

Pros:
  •  Best-in-class handling
  •  Superb power-to-weight ratio
  •  More power and torque
  •  Brit ingenuity in full display
  •  Usable trunk space
  •  Comfortable Seating
  •  Lighter than the previous Evora 400
  •  More aerodynamic downforce
Cons:
  •  Dated design
  •  Minimal driver tech inside
  •  No adaptive suspensions
  •  Sound damping is inferior
  •  Side visibility has blindspots
  •  Rear seats are not usable  
Features and price of the Lotus Evora GT 2020:
  • MSRP (Manual) $96,950
  • MSRP (Automatic) $99,650
  • Key Features Alpine Music System with 2 speakers and 2 tweeters
  • 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite navigation and reversing camera
  • AP Racing four-piston brake calipers
  • 3 Driver selectable modes- Touring/Sports/Race
  • Single outlet sports exhaust with Active exhaust valve control
  • Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Bi-xenon headlights with high-pressure cleaning and LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Sparco sports seats with Alcantara and leather upholstery
  • Leather and Alcantara trimmed Steering wheel with cruise control settings
  • Eibach ultra-light, low-sideload springs, front and rear, fitted to Bilstein sports dampers
  • Lotus designed, ultra-lightweight, fully machined, forged aluminum wheels
  • Extensive use of Carbon Fiber in bodywork and chassis
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