How can you not love a British cottage carmaker that turns out some of the most entertaining examples of the four-wheel art ever devised. Lotus cars are always light, fast, and generally a tight fit. So, when Lotus announced it was expanding its lineup, starting with the world’s only four-seat mid-engine sports car, we felt both skeptical and intrigued. Now it’s time to see which feeling wins out.

Splitting the difference between a high-performance track weapon and an exotic daily driver, the 2010 Lotus Evora sports car promises to have a wider breadth of appeal than the near-competition tuned Elise roadster and Exige coupe. But while Elise and Exige share lineage, the Evora is all-new. It’s also the largest current Lotus car, coming in almost two feet longer and five inches wider. That extra size allows the Evora to become the brand’s only model with four seats for a two-plus-two configuration. 

The Evora’s sleek, low-roof design is very Ferrari-like compared to the cartoonish track-toy styling of its stablemates. Below its sharply drawn headlamps, a large-mouth opening inhales air, rams it through the radiator, and sends it back out through twin hood vents, over the windscreen, channeling through the scooped-out roof, and off the Evora’s rear wing.

A pinched waist, side sculpting, and fender top vents also further the Evora’s excellent aerodynamics as well as engine cooling. The Evora rides on cast or forged alloy wheels, 18s up front, 19s in the rear.

Evora power may seem odd, but visible through the rear hatch glass is Toyota’s Yeoman 3.5-liter V6.  But, with 276 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, it provides the 3,047-pound Evora plenty of go. There are two six-speed manual transmissions: a standard setup and a sport ratio gearbox.

With the latter, Lotus claims a 0-to-60 of only 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 162 miles per hour. That’s only a hair slower than the last Exige we tested, and it weighs a thousand pounds less than Evora. On the California roads we ventured onto, Evora throttle response was spot-on, especially when engaging the optional sport mode.  The V6 is not super torquey off the line, but it really wakes up over 4000 rpm. Most U.S. Evoras will be fitted with the sport ratio gearbox.  Throws are short and everything feels very precise and solid.

The double-wishbone suspension utilizes Lotus-tuned Bilstein gas dampers. Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control are standard, while an optional Sports Traction Control mode increases yaw and slip thresholds. We expect every Lotus to be a very sharp handling car, and the Evora is.  It scoots around corners effortlessly, as it hammered through a gauntlet of desert twisties. Turn-ins are immediate and the car stays dead flat. It’s rare that a driver feels so connected to both car and the road.

But what surprised us was how smooth and comfortable this car can be. Unlike the hard-bitten Elise and Exige, the Evora leans to the side of a daily driver.  It offers a taut, but un-jarring and quieter ride. The ABS braking system is also a Lotus design, with AP Racing four-piston calipers and optional cross-drilled rotors.  They inspire plenty of confidence.

Within, the Evora’s two-plus-two cabin is a fine mix of sport and hand-built craftsmanship.  And it’s downright cavernous compared to the Exige and Elise.

Awash in leather, this interior is headlined by a simple dash and business-like gauges and controls. Up front, the adjustable Recaro seats nicely cradle occupants, and the driver takes command with a leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel.

The optional navigation system features a removable portable unit that doubles as a handheld GPS to help you get where you’re going once you’ve parked.

Like a Porsche 911, the rear seat is designed for those five feet tall and under…way under.  But, you can opt for a rear package shelf with cargo net instead. In typical mid-engine fashion, the trunk is a deep well behind the engine, larger and more useful than Elise and Exige.

Evora Government Fuel Economy ratings are estimated to be 18 city/27 highway. Pricing for the Evora two-plus-two starts at $74,674. Doing away with the back seat saves $500.

Yes, we love-no, make that lust after-Lotus cars. But, with the Evora, a bit of maturity has set in. You can squeeze a couple more people into it, and drive it to work without losing a filling. Still, our skepticism is resolved. The Evora is another thrill-a-minute Lotus sports car. And that makes it quite an achievement.


  • Engine: 3.5-Liter V6
  • Horsepower: 276
  • Torque: 258 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 4.9 Seconds
  • EPA: 18 MPG City/ 27 MPG Highway