Daydreams continue after being out of the seat of the 2021 Lotus Evora GT for a few months now. The feel, the sounds, and the presence of this car have fired up a cacophony of synapses that no other car has ever given me.
I slid down into the carbon Sparco bucket seats, caressed the smooth leather-wrapped steering wheel, left foot depressed the heavy clutch, right hand smoothly clicked the shifter into first gear, right foot slid down the skinny pedal as the left smoothly let out the clutch, and I was off with a satisfying auditory grumble from the engine just behind my head. This car is a delight for all the senses!
I was able to spend an all too short 15+ hours behind the wheel of the Evora GT, covering 461 miles, in the greater LA/Palm Springs/Malibu area over a 3 day period in November. Let’s dive right in and unearth why this car whispered all the right things in my ears while I gave it a proper workout on some of the best driving roads in the country.
Evora GT Likes:
- Precise gear shifts with perfect metal weighted shifter
- Makes great exhaust and supercharger sounds
- Super linear power delivery
- Turns heads everywhere it goes
- Amazing tires (Michelin PS Cup 2)
- Fits bigger, taller, and larger footed people than other Lotus cars
Evora GT Dislikes:
- Horrible glare & low screen brightness on the touchscreen
- Has a massive blindspot
- One tiny useless cupholder at the back of the center console
- Cheap vinyl model branding on car, vs a nice raised badge of some kind
- Clutch is a bit overly heavy
- Not roof rack compatible
Lotus Evora GT Reveiw
I love the British quirkiness of the Lotus Evora, and the lightweight and handling first ethos, above and beyond raw power. I also love the sharp aggressive styling, mid-engine layout, and that it looks like a car worth much more than it costs. It turned heads everywhere I went, by people of all ages, socio-economic standings, and ethnicities.
The first quirk I found with the Evora GT is getting it started. You have to insert the key on the right of the steering wheel, hit the starter button on the left, and the car has to have been unlocked in a short period of time before you initiate that sequence. If not, it won’t start, so you have to hit the unlock button on the key, and do it all over again.
The Evora GT feels super crisp and precise in all ways, and that is a rare thing in a modern car where you normally feel so disconnected from everything outside. This car is also focused on the driver experience, not about comfort, convenience, practicality, the latest tech, or anything else. There is no frunk for your shopping or luggage, although there is a tiny trunk and a back seat that is great for things and much less so for humans.
I’m weird and like to have fun while driving out to do outdoor adventures, like whitewater kayaking and mtn biking. Sadly, the roof on the Evora is lightweight and not really designed to handle any sort of roof rack, meaning I can’t really use this car to get out kayaking, biking, etc…
Room to Drive
The Evora is the only Lotus I really fit in (6’3″ tall with size 13 shoes), especially with a helmet for track days. The pedals are small and close together, but fine for my size 13s, especially with narrow driving shoes. Left foot braking is a challenge with my big feet and the position of the clutch pedal. I’m not sure there is a more performance-focused pedal box on a street car today, however.
The front seats are pretty comfortable and supportive for sports buckets and have plenty of adjustment. I wish the bottom cushion angle was easier to adjust, however, as it requires removing the seat from the car and adjusting a few bolts. There is also no lumbar support in the carbon buckets, which is rough for someone like me with chronic back issues.
I’m in Love With a Camry Motor?!?
Yes, the 3.5L V6 in the middle of the Evora GT is sourced from a Toyota Camry. No, you won’t care. It is tuned by Lotus and has an Eaton supercharger mounted to the top of it. Not only does it provide plenty of super linear power -416 hp (at 7,000 RPM) and 332 lb.-ft. of torque- it also sounds absolutely amazing. Exhaust tuning at its finest, as a Camry will never sound this good. An active exhaust lets you dial back the engine’s beautiful sounds a bit, at the touch of a button, for around-town driving, but that supercharger whine doesn’t go anywhere.
While you get plenty of grunt from the get-go, this engine really wakes up between 5,500-7,000 RPM. From a standstill, you can get this car to 60 mph in under 4 seconds (3.8 to be exact). It will also just keep climbing to an impressive 188 mph. I wasn’t able to verify either of those numbers in my testing, but assure you they seem reasonable and zero people will say that this car is slow.
If you drive at a normal pace, which is incredibly hard to do, then the Evora GT will give you 17/20/26 MPG fuel economy.
A Driver’s Car
The Evora GT is impractical in mostly the right ways. Even the turn signal and windshield wiper stalks on the steering column are too far from the wheel, while annoying for everyday driving, it’s a great feature when performance driving so you don’t bump either accidentally. The infotainment system not only looks like an aftermarket add-on, it also is nearly impossible to read during the day, especially with polarized sunglasses, and way too bright at night, as it doesn’t dim.
The 6-speed manual transmission is sublime and the rack and pinion steering is the most communicative and precise I’ve felt in any road car. With a Torsen type limited-slip differential and AP Racing 4-piston calipers finding traction and bringing this lightweight -3,175 lbs wet- car to a stop isn’t an issue. The brakes are really good, but they are actually one of the weaker performing performance parts on the car.
The suspension, aluminum bonded chassis, and amazing wheel and tire setup -19×8 front and 20×9 rear wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 XL tires (245/35/19 front and 295/30/30 rear)- make for a planted, controlled ride that gives you all the feedback you could ever ask for. You hear and feel every stone and bump in the road. Yes, this can be fatiguing on long trips, but it’s sublime when pushing the car to the limits.
Modern Car, But…
While this is a 2021 car, you might not think it when you look at the near dot-matrix driver’s displays and lack of modern safety and driver assistance tech. It doesn’t have things like lane keep assist, adaptive cruise, and blindspot warning (something it could use). I for one am all good with that, as it means fewer things to break and in the end much less weight and things distracting you from the amazing driving engagement this car provides.
The Sparco carbon seats are heated but only offer an on or off setting. There is no nose lift feature, but at the stock ride height, you rarely need such a feature. The stereo is pretty solid, but you’ll probably just want to listen to the sweet tunes from the exhaust. The Evora GT quickly outruns its headlights, and automatic high beams would be a welcome feature on this car.
Buying a Lotus Evora
I want one, full stop. With that said, I’ve had to pump my brakes a bit on pulling the trigger. Lotus reliability, build quality, and resale value just doesn’t hold up to its competitors. I don’t like to wrench and am not in a financial position to lose much money on fun cars, so this has caused a major battle between my brain and heart.
Only Evora 400 and newer, meaning 2017 or newer in North America, have a dead pedal for your left foot. I recently test drove a 2011 Evora S, which had no dead pedal and way less room in the footbox than the newer Evora models, but was much cheaper ($55,000). For me, with size 13 feet and long legs, I have to get one of the newer cars. The bodywork on the Evora 400 and GT, especially the GT, is also optimized for aerodynamics and looks more aggressive and appealing to me, than the older Evora cars. Not to mention the cool carbon bits that come standard.
Pricing seems to be pretty steady lately on modern Evora models. I haven’t found a good condition Evora 400 on the US market for less than about $70,000, with a quality used Evora GT being upwards of $90,000.
The 2021 Lotus Evora GT base price is $96,950 (+$2,200 destination charge). The press loaner that I drove had a final sticker price of $107,000, and didn’t include the carbon package ($10,000) or titanium exhaust option ($8,000) both of which are crazy expensive but add some flare to this already cool car, and shed even more weight. The Military Grey paint added $5,900 to the base price of this car, along with Yellow Brake Calipers ($450), Yellow Double Stitching ($1,000), and an upgraded sub and amp ($500).
You also have to factor into your buying decision that the new Lotus Emira will be on the market in just a few months, starting at $77,100, and the Evora GT is already out of production. That means the Evora GT and Emira are essentially the same price.
I just sold my Porsche 996 Turbo for a solid profit in this crazy current market, so am now on the hunt for a new to me on-road fun car. As impractical as the Lotus Evora GT is, it is still at the very top of my list of things to buy. It’s such a fun car that I continually daydream about driving more.
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PS: You can get this car with an automatic gearbox, but if you do you’re probably buying the wrong car. This car is meant to be driven with three pedals, in my opinion.