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Offline AshSimmonds

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Honda announced recently that itís to stop making the drophead, two-seater S2000. And since this has always been my favourite small sports car, I thought Iíd borrow one and go for one last, tearful drive.

God, it was horrible. There wasnít enough room for even small parts of me to get comfortable. The digital instruments looked like they had come straight from a Nik Kershaw video. The plastics would have looked shoddy on an Ethiopianís wheelie bin. It was as sparsely equipped as an Amish barn. And the noise. It was hip-hop horrendous. Conversation was impossible. Thought was impossible. It was the kind of relentless drone that, after a while, can drive a man mad.

So how come I used to love this car so much? Itís not like Iím talking here about meeting up with an old girlfriend. The Honda has not become fat and frumpy. It isnít pushing a pram or wearing tweed instead of miniskirts. Itís not now married to a golfer called Colin. Itís exactly the same now as it was in 2005. And 2005 is not that long ago.

Except of course, in automotive terms, 2005 is somewhere between the big bang and the Norman conquests. And what was acceptable then ó heavy steering, no sat nav, religious persecution and dinosaurs ó is not acceptable any more.

Cars are not getting faster or more economical. But in terms of refinement and comfort, they are a country mile better than the cars you could buy as recently as a week ago last Tuesday. (Unless you have a Peugeot.)

This is great for us but itís a big problem for Britainís small car makers. Because in the olden days (1994), when all cars exploded every few minutes, you could have a Lotus or a TVR or a Morgan and it wasnít that much different.

Today, though, as the big car companies churn out cars that have no transmission whine and never break down ó Peugeot excepted ó the offerings from a small car company look as out of date as a ruff. This is because small car companies have no robots. There isnít the money for relentless testing of every component in every corner of the world. The car must be designed on an Amstrad and put together by a man in a brown store-coat. And saying a car is hand-built is just another way of saying the glove box lid wonít shut properly.

Take the Lotus Elise. It squeaks. It rattles. It drones. It vibrates. Itís hard to get into and impossible to get out of. Itís badly equipped and hard to operate. All of this might have been acceptable 13 years ago when the Elise first came out and it might be acceptable today if it were the last word in zip and vigour.

But it isnít. Compared with even a Golf, it feels old and slow and understeery. Itís a 20th-century car in a 21st-century world where last Friday is already last year. And the last new car Lotus made, the Europa, was even worse.

Thatís why I wasnít looking forward to driving the new Evora. I knew it would smell of glue, give me cramp and fall to pieces, because Lotus, up there in the turnips, simply doesnít have the sort of bang on, bang up to date production line that makes modern mass-produced cars such engineering marvels (except Peugeots, obviously).

I was in for a bit of a shock. No. I was in for a lot of a shock. I was in for so much of a shock, in fact, I had to have a little lie down.

First of all, the bad news. Because it was designed on an Amstrad in someoneís mumís bedroom, there are mistakes. All you can see in the windscreen is a reflection of the dashboard and all you can see on the ancillary dials is a reflection of whatever weather happens to be prevailing at the time.

Whatís more, the buttons are all carefully placed to ensure you can neither see nor find them. And even if you do, they have plainly been labelled by someone who was mad, or four.

Then you have the Alpine sat nav cum multimedia interface wotsit in the dash. Why didnít Lotus develop its own box of tricks instead of fitting one thatís designed for youths in CitroŽn Saxos? Simple. It didnít have the resources.

And so, you get a system that speaks. And what it says is: ďYou are breaking the speed limitĒ, every time you go near the throttle. This is very annoying, but happily there is a solution. Because it speaks only once, at the moment you stray over the limit, you should accelerate as quickly as possible to beyond the speed limit and then stay there all day.

The other solution is to turn it off. Which is impossible. Because Iím 49. And a man. So I wonít look things up in instruction books. Or listen to my wife, who said she knew how. Because I know best.

As you can see, then, the Evora features many things to cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth. So the car would have to be very good or very cheap to make those problems worth tolerating. And hereís the thing. Itís both. The 3.5-litre Toyota V6 is not the most powerful engine in the world but itís smooth ó and refined ó and the power it produces is delightfully seamless. Thereís no sudden savagery. No ďOh my God, Iím going to crash nowĒ. Itís brilliant.

Soís the packaging. Normally, a mid-engined four-seater car looks all wrong. The Ferrari Mondial springs to mind here. But the Evora is bang on. It really is a genuine surprise when youíve studied the nicely proportioned exterior to find there are two seats in the back. And a dribble of legroom, too, provided the driver isnít too tall.

And speaking of tall, the front is a revelation. I could get in easily. I could get out without crawling. Inside, I didnít even need to have the seat fully back. Anyone up to 6ft 7in is going to fit in an Evora and that alone makes it special.

Especially when I tell you the boot, which is at the back, where it should be, is big enough for two sets of golf clubs.

So, the driving. Sadly, I didnít have much chance to really push it ó the weather was horrendous and time was tight ó but I put in enough miles to know this car has great steering and handles well. Of course it does. Itís a Lotus. And because itís a Lotus, itíll crash and jar and lurch from pothole to speed bump.

Wrong. It simply glided over absolutely everything a torrential rainstorm and Britainís B roads could throw at it. There is no other mid-engined supercar that has ever been so compliant. Or refined. Or quiet. Itís amazing. It doesnít feel like it was made in a shed in Norfolk. It feels like it was made yesterday, by a machine.

The Evora, then, is not a car you buy because itís a Lotus and you have always fancied one. Itís a car you buy because you want a comfortable, practical, mid-engined supercar and no one else makes such a thing. Not Ferrari. Not Lamborghini. Not anyone.

As I wafted from corner to corner, gradually forgetting about the smell of the glue they used to hold the chassis together, and the reflections, and the silly sat nav, I started guessing how much this car might cost. I reckoned on somewhere around £60,000. I was wrong. Itís less than 50.

And thatís what makes this the most modern car of them all. Itís the first to come to the market with a deflationary price tag.

The Clarksometer

Lotus Evora 2+2

Engine 3456cc, six cylinders

Power 276bhp @ 6400rpm

Torque 252 lb ft @ 4700rpm

Transmission Six-speed manual

Fuel 32.5mpg (combined cycle)

CO2 205g/km

Acceleration 0-60mph: 4.9sec

Top speed 162mph

Price £49,875

Road tax band K (£215 a year)

On sale Now

Clarkson's verdict

***

A revelation - no really

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article6205379.ece



Offline flamestone

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  • Name: Shane
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Awesome.  Gotta get me some seat time sooner rather than later...



And bwah hah ha haaahh
Quote
Normally, a mid-engined four-seater car looks all wrong. The Ferrari Mondial springs to mind here



Offline mondi

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Offline futurism


  • Joined: Jan 2009

  • Drives: Regretfully sold my GT3
  • Location: Adelaide
  • Name: David
its ok, he bashed my car in the review as well

Quote
But it isnít. Compared with even a Golf, it feels old and slow and understeery. Itís a 20th-century car in a 21st-century world where last Friday is already last year. And the last new car Lotus made, the Europa, was even worse.

Europa disses aside, im not sure what elise hes driving that understeers more than a golf

of course taking a car review by mr clarkson seriously is stupid, truck drivers do kill prostitutes though



Offline dkabab

of course taking a car review by mr clarkson seriously is stupid

well being taller than me, and knowing how i fit in your car, i can imagine his knees would be touching the steering wheel in an elise... not being able to turn the wheel could justify understeer....



Offline flamestone

  • Geekographer

  • Joined: Jul 2007

  • Drives: to and from everywhere
  • Location: Central Coast
  • Name: Shane
  • www: Flamestone.com
im not sure what elise hes driving that understeers more than a golf

Don't you remember that TG episode where he gets shown how crap his driving is by the Lotus engineer?  The other guy got that car to do everything Clarkson said it could never do, so it's been a standing joke ever since.

Just perhaps not a very funny one.  But that's what he gets paid for. :thumbsup:



Offline futurism


  • Joined: Jan 2009

  • Drives: Regretfully sold my GT3
  • Location: Adelaide
  • Name: David
now that you mention it I do remember
and the lotus guy was, large, I wanted to see him get in and out



Offline AshSimmonds

  • Geekitecht

  • Joined: Feb 2006

  • Drives: GF's shitbox :(
  • Location: Adelayed
  • Name: Humble Narrator
  • www: AshSimmonds.com
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2010 Lotus Evora - First Drive Review
A larger Lotus, but no less fun.

BY DAVE VANDERWERP
May 2009


There are few greater automotive thrills than hurling a Lotus Elise down a bendy back roadóor around a racetrack. But itís almost not fair to compare the intense and delightful responses of the Elise or the related Exige to other street cars because, with curb weights that hover around 2000 pounds, there arenít really any other street cars like them.

Bigger, but No Less Special

As you likely already know, thatís where the Evora comes in. Itís massively larger than the Eliseó21.9 inches longer, with a 10.9-inch stretch in the wheelbaseówhich puts it on par with other sports cars such as the Porsche 911 and Cayman. The Evora is roughly five inches shorter than the 911 but still manages to squeeze in similarly sized (i.e. tiny) back seats that are designed to fit very small adults or children up to about 10 years old. It also has a narrower door sill and a 2.5-inch-higher seating position, making it far easier to get in and out, which is one of the Eliseís setbacks. Two six-foot-plus males can sit in comfort without their shoulders touching, which is inevitable in an Elise. In fact, this six-foot-five driver didnít even have to put the front seat back all the way to get comfortable.

Back seat or not, the Evora is still very much a Lotus in the driver-thrill department. As with the companyís other cars, the steering is absolutely brilliant. The Evora has hydraulic power assist as opposed to the unassisted racks of other Lotuses, but the magic still comes through. In fact, the Lotus guys are so fanatical about steering feel that the Evora has a magnesium steering wheel in order to reduce weightóand therefore inertiaóso that the driver is informed of every last road nuance. The weighting is perfect, and the constant subtle feedback that comes through the thin, flat-bottom wheel is superb without making the car feel nervous or twitchy.

More than Just Power

The Evora is planted and secure, yet picks apart corners with a light and playful feel that always makes mid-engine cars feel so specialóthink Ferrari F430, only with better steering. The Evoraís handling is so natural and fluid that you get the sense it actually enjoys being pushed. Braking is similarly spectacular, with immediate bite and extremely linear behavior. Despite weighing about 100 pounds less than a 911, the Evora wears 13.8-inch front brakes that are larger than the Porscheís. Lotus says theyíve been designed to easily shrug off track use.

While not necessarily a straight-line rocketóa Nissan 370Z will keep up in the quarter-mile dashóit isnít as though the Evora is wanting for a bunch of additional power, and thatís not what any Lotus is about, anyway. The Toyota-sourced V-6 is responsive and has a nice mid-range induction growlóLotus routes a tube from the intake to the cabin to enhance the noiseóand it sings a sophisticated but fairly subtle roar in the 5000Ė7000 rpm range. In fact, this is as loud as Lotus could make it in order to pass strict European noise regulations. U.S. cars get a slightly louder exhaust. A benefit of the, shall we say, responsible level of horsepower is impressive fuel economy numbers. Based on European ratings, the Evora could return as high as a 911-bettering 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway in EPA testing.

Start Saving Now

Initially the Evora will be offered only with a six-speed manual, but Toyotaís six-speed automatic transmission will be on the options list for 2011. Donít worryóas with the engine, the autobox will be completely reprogrammed by Lotus. The Evora goes on sale imminently in Europe, but wonít be available in the U.S. until early 2010, and the critical pricing decision has yet to be made. Current exchange rates would put the Evora at $75,000 or so, which is practically on top of the Porsche 911 and more than $10,000 higher than the price of a Cayman S. That may be a tough sell for some. But the sales volumes will be supercar-like, which means your neighboróor anyone else on your drive to workóis not likely to have one, and the level of driver feedback is unsurpassed in the ďreal-carĒ realm. Thatís enough for us.


Specifications
VEHICLE TYPE: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe

ESTIMATED BASE PRICE: $75,000

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 211 cu in, 3456cc
Power (SAE net): 276 bhp @ 6400 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 258 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 101.4 in Length: 170.9 in Width: 72.8 in Height: 48.1 in Curb weight: 3050 lb

PERFORMANCE (MFR'S EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 4.9 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 12.3 sec
Standing ľ-mile: 13.5 sec @ 105 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 162 mph

FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 19/28 mpg

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/hot_lists/high_performance/sports_car_central/2010_lotus_evora_first_drive_review



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