Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces
Lotus is synonimous with lightweight, innovative racing cars, with an engineering might that brought Colin Chapman’s outfit seven F1 Constructors’ Championships, six driver’s titles and victories in British saloon championships and the legendary Indianapolis 500.
After Chapman’s death the company stuttered through a few years before the birth of the era-defining Elise in 1995. The Evora joined the lineup in 2008 and was followed by the Evora S and then this, the supercharged Evora 400.
The base Evora is handsome, but the 400 has clicked the aggression up a notch or two. In comes a new front bumper featuring a three-part air intake and new day running lights. At the back the Evora sprouts a small spoiler and beefier shoulders.
The Evora is based around a modular aluminium chassis and that, coupled with hydraulically assisted (not electric) power steering should be a guarantee that the 400 edition is not going to be short on driver engagement. Larger brakes sit inside stunning black 10-spoke rims, each clothed in Michelin Pilot Supersport rubber.
Inside, the 400 is a more grown up place to be than the stripped down racers that make up the rest of the fleet. Swathed in leather and alcantara, everything is designed to showcase the fact that this is a car for the road first, and trackdays second.
The main change is the lowering, and reduction in width, of the door sills, instantly making this the easiest Lotus to get in and out of and signalling the more grown-up nature of the Evora 400. This car wants to be a Porsche, not a Caterham.
Fear not, the grown up interior and 2+2 layout haven’t changed the performance philosophy. The Evora 400 has been blessed with a superb chassis, pin-perfect steering and supple ride. On the track it feels light and nimble, with the new traction control settings learning your driving style to help you slice wedges from your lap time with each pass.
It’s all mated to a 3.5-litre V6, now with a supercharger, which develops 400bhp along with a beguiling, throaty roar from its twin exhausts. This allows it to race to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 186mph – making it the fastest road-going Lotus ever made.
On the limit the 400 is playful and easy to hold but its home is on the road, not the track. That is where this car really stamps its authority. Country B-roads are hoovered up in no time, with only the very biggest potholes able to throw it off its steady game.
Leather and alcantara may not be what every purist expects to find in a Lotus, but fear not. This car has lost nothing of Lotus’s incredible super-fast know how, while gaining a huge chunk of real-life usability.
This is a Lotus you could spend time in outside of those rare track days. One you could, from time to time, think about going shopping in. And definitely a car you would be more than happy to take on a long-haul cruise across Europe. Well put together and a pleasure to be in, yet still losing nothing of that Lotus glee, this is a real player in the GT market. Something Hethel has been missing from its arsenal for far too long.
Price tag of our car – £73,000
Photography by Tom Shaxson