Lotus Evora S IPS Review

Lotus is back in the UAE, and we’re one of the first to drive the official cars

By Shahzad Sheikh

[UPDATE – 6 March 2014. We test the Evora S on track at the Dubai Autodrome. Click here to read our verdict]

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Driving in a straight line on a clear road I take my hands off the steering wheel of the Lotus Evora S and the helm vibrates subtly but quite visibly and constantly. Now there are vibrations such as those you get from misalignment, poor wheel balancing, tyres issues and just generally bad set-up, and then there are good vibrations. These are the latter kind.

Each of those miniscule movements is a message – as it writhes and wriggles in your hands, this steering is telegraphing back a torrent stream of feedback so eloquent and explicit that it’s as if you’re running the tip of your fingers along the tarmac below your wheels.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Considering how close your bottom actually is to the road that might be a somewhat uncomfortable analogy to contemplate. Worry not though because your butt-cheeks are well protected, ensconced as they are in this lightweight modular aluminium chassis, clothed in composite panels.

But I’ve gotten way ahead of myself here, fast-forwarded to my favourite memory of my all-too-brief fling with this car – relishing and revelling in the total intimacy of the act of driving this Lotus – something so rare and almost archaic in today’s insipid cars.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

What is the Evora?

So let me first introduce this car to you. It’s not entirely new of course – the Lotus Evora was launched in July 2008 at the now defunct British International Motor Show. However, after a long-absence from the UAE market, Lotus is returning with a regional head office in Abu Dhabi and Al Futtaim as its UAE dealer (although Lotus cars have been sold in some GCC markets such as Oman, KSA and Bahrain for a while now).

The Evora was produced on a separate platform to the then mainstay Elise, a car that also sired the ever-exciting Exige (soon to join the Evora on our shores) and the thankfully short-lived Europa (a sort of dress rehearsal for the Evora in fact).

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Why a rehearsal? Why was it so necessary to get the Evora right? Well because Lotus is trying to stake its claim as the only contemporary makers of true driver’s cars, and taking the fight directly to Porsche. Have they succeeded, have they even got the Evora ‘right’ for that matter – well stay with me, we’ll come back to that.

What flavours and how much?

The car you see before you is the Evora S IPS – those last three letters just denote ‘Intelligent Precision Shift’ or plain old ‘automatic’ to you and me. And it, along with the rest of the Evora range goes on sale today at Al Futtaim in the UAE.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

There’s essentially two models available, this and the regular flavour, both available in six-speed manual or automatic guises (the latter with paddleshifts). The engines in each are a 3.5-litre V6, which is essentially the same unit that you’ll find in a Toyota Avalon, the Asin-supplied torque converter automatic too is a Camry unit, though Lotus has substantially reprogrammed it of course.

The Evora, priced from AED337,400 ($91,900) puts out 276bhp and 258lb ft of torque, giving it a 0-100kph time of 5.2 seconds (5.0 for the manual) and a top speed of 256kph (262kph).

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

An Australian-made Harrop Supercharger ups power for the Evora S to 345bhp and torque to 295lb ft. Acceleration to 100kph is half a second quicker at 4.7seconds (4.6 for the manual) and top speed rises to 269kph (286kph). Prices start at AED386,400 ($105k).

All UAE cars come as standard with metallic paint, power-fold mirrors, reversing camera (useful because visibility aft is not great), leather trim, uprated stereo and Alpine in-car system with 7-inch touchscreen including Bluetooth phone connection, cruise control, tyre pressure monitors and USB connectivity.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

The S is also fitted with the Sports pack as standard which comes with Sports Mode giving it sharper throttle response, keener settings for the Dynamic Performance Management system (which looks after the ABS, EBD, traction control and electronic differential lock), a sports diffuser, stainless steel exhaust and cross-drilled brake discs.

This ‘full-fat- edition weighs in at 1442kg (the base Evora manual is 60kg lighter) and it’s small. Despite being a 2+2 mid-engine sports car (although that plus-two rear bench is frankly unrealistic even for small kids – you might as well just consider the back seats as extra storage space) it’s only 4361mm long, 19mm shorter than a strictly two-seater Porsche Cayman. It’s lower than the Porsche too, but over 20cm wider.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Looks, styling, road presence

To behold in person, it is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly proportioned – low, squat, distinctive. Viewed in profile it has a very wedge-shaped profile harking back to cars like the Esprit, but regard it from a three-quarter angle and it’s all curves and contours.

A thrusting front end tapers into a beautifully pinched side, the clever use of the kinked-lines above and below the doors tightening things up and sweeping back to highlight the ample alluring haunches, suggesting potency and purpose.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

It brilliantly combines the past, present and future, serving up classic curvature, efficient styling, and an almost unsettling space-pod street presence that gets the heads turning and camera phones clicking when it’s out and about in town. People stop to ask about this car. It has a friendly and approachable persona, which reflects well on its driver too – somewhat different to more haughty exoticas.

Getting in, getting comfortable

As you’d expect, it’s not the easiest thing to get in and out of. You have to get right down and slide your backside across the wide sill into those thin-looking but inviting bucket sports seats and then fold your legs (with a bit of a helping hand in the case of my lanky limbs and large feet) to squeeze yourself in. If you’ve got a passenger, it’s rather cosy too.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

The pedals are off-set towards the centre of the car, so your legs are at a slight angle, and be advised to wear tight-fitting driving shoes as big feet with boots on might as well stay at home.

Having said that, once you’re in, the driving position is laid-back and remarkably comfortable, I literally spent all day in this car, and had no complaints when it came to comfort and space – makes sense though, the long-serving previous boss of Lotus, Mike Kimberely was a big chap at 6’5” and all cars had to fit him.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Look around you and the fit and finish is surprisingly impressive – for a Lotus, keeping in mind long-held perceptions by some of this being a ‘cottage industry’ car manufacturer often derided as a maker of kit cars. That’s a disservice of course to this fabled brand, which boasts an illustrious racing heritage and an enigmatic founder on par with Ferrari itself.

Admittedly Lotus is always about the drive and engineering, rather than the touchy feely bits, but having said that, whilst the ICE unit looks a bit forced, the rest of the dashboard and console works well with an appropriate efficiency of purpose, even if clarity of use is somewhat absent – do be sure to let the sales rep explain all the controls and buttons to you, they’re not always intuitive and the placement is somewhat erratic.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

This car is not crafted or finished anywhere near as well as a Porsche, but the essentials are all spot-on, the instrumentation, the steering wheel and the anodised aluminium paddles behind the wheel.

Start it up, let’s go

Fire it up and there’s quite a bit of clatter and chatter from behind you with various pumps and motors awakening, and later you’ll find that every time you come to a halt do not expect any quiet conversation, as an intrusive cooling system engages loudly behind your right ear.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

It works though, as the temperate gauge remained consistently on the half-way mark, except when hard-charging uphill when it sneaked a tad over, but the air conditioning, you’ll be please to hear, remained strong and kept the cabin cool the whole time – and it was a hot day when I tested this car.

In all the audible accompaniment from the rear, the supercharger whine is probably the least evident, and despite what the numbers suggest, this isn’t immediately the most punchiest of performers.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

The acceleration is impressive, not startling, though this is a little deceptive, because so well composed is the Evora that you have to look down at the instrument panel to realise you’re probably going about 20kph faster than you thought – especially through the corners.

Don’t get me wrong though, it’s quick enough, and there’s a delicious roarty howl under full-throttle to stir the soul, the exhaust note having been tuned just so.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

You can’t believe that the powertrain is Toyota-sourced, so urgent and eager is it, and so snappy are the gear changes –especially considering this is not a double-clutch system, and was designed to economically saunter around town in taxis all day long. It’s hard to comprehend how Lotus has rendered it so sharp and so adept at handling the torque.

The paddles can over-ride the full-auto mode for 10 seconds, but in Sports you go manual only and it won’t change up even on the redline, though it does shift down on slowing for lights and junctions. What’s even more clever is that at high cornering speeds (when the car is pulling over 0.6g of lateral force) the transmission will avoid changing gear so as not to upset the balance.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

How it handles – divine and sublime

Ah yes, the balance! Admittedly you have a very low centre of gravity here and hence the agility and faithful interpretation of your steering inputs beggars belief, but this is the stuff Lotus knows better than anyone in the business – in fact these are the guys other manufacturers call when they need to sort out handling issues with their cars!

Find yourself a nice road with some twisty bits and the Evora S displays incredibly stability, a superbly neutral attitude, subtle changes on the throttle mid-bend, precise turn-in, grip like its riding on Velcro tyres, and body control that is perfectly judged, keeping things nicely level but giving plenty of awareness about which of the laws of physics you’re in open defiance of.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

This is a driving experience in which you must fully immerse yourself. Whereas most modern cars are either nannying you with electronics and drivers aids that are making up for your lack of skills, or are lulling you into a false sense of security leaving you unaware of how close to danger you are surfing, thanks to their over-damped and too-muted interfaces, the Evora is an energetic, but honest, co-conspirator.

It’s like an excitable co-pilot that is screaming information at you whilst encouraging you on. You feel everything, you hear everything, you know everything. The slightest shifts in mass, the merest kink in its mostly invincible road-holding and the exact nature of the surface is being transmitted to your fingertips through the steering as well as the seat of your pants.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

This car is an absolute joy to drive hard and fast on challenging roads – there is simply nothing else available in our market to touch the visceral ecstasy of piloting an Evora. But the most pleasing part is that you don’t have to be at eight or nine-tenths to enjoy this car all the time.

We drove it in town, in traffic, on motorways, at night and of course our favourite test roads up in the Hajar mountains, and it was a delightful and faithfully subservient companion in each of those environments. If you can put up with the less-that-elegant egress and ingress, this car is a genuine daily driver – and the smiles per miles can’t be beaten.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

Even the ride is a revelation – considering that you could take the Evora S straight out onto a track and keep up with the big boys, whilst having more fun them any of them anyway, it’s amazing how well composed the damping and rebound is. This car will leave you with a grin, but not sore in anyway – apart from when you have to give it back (in my case at least)!

And give it back I must as that price is way too rich for me. In fact the retail tag might prove a bit of a problem for Lotus in the UAE. We posed the question earlier on this page as to whether Lotus has got the Evora right and whether it’s actually a Porsche-beater; well there’s two ways to look at it.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

To drive, yes. The limpet-like grip, the precise steering brimming with feel, the impossibly quick direction changes, the superbly supple suspension, the depth of performance, and most importantly, how quickly and easily this car inspires confidence in the driver, is something that even leaves Porsche scratching its head, as brilliant as its cars undoubtedly are.

The verdict

However as a prospective purchase, the argument is far, far harder to win. A brand new Porsche Cayman S, which offers similar power and performance, but in a more opulent and user-friendly package, is priced from AED227,300 in Dubai. Even a Porsche 911 Carrera 4 starts at less money than an Evora S, and for many that would be a no-brainer. And let’s not even mention cars like the new new Jaguar F-Type and forthcoming Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – likely to be the same money or slightly less.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

There’s the dilemma, the price is what binds me from wholeheartedly recommending you all go out and buy an Evora at once, now that you finally can.

Having said that, if you are someone for whom the actual drive is paramount, and you want to be sure that you are buying the keenest steer this side of a full-on race car, and one that you can tootle around in everyday, then you could probably justify this cost with ease.

Lotus Evora S IPS in Dubai, UAE

And you know what? You’d be right. I’ve fallen utterly in love with this thing, and if you’ve read this far, it’s quite possible you will too once you’re behind that amazing steering wheel.

2013 Lotus Evora
Evora AED AED337,400 ($92k)
Evora S AED AED386,400 ($105k)
Evora 3.5-litre V6, 276bhp @ 6400rpm, 258lb ft @ 4600rpm
Evora S 3.5-litre V6 Supercharged, 345bhp @ 7000rpm, 295lb ft @ 4500rpm
Evora IPS 0-100kph 5.2s, top speed 256kph, 9.0L/100km
Evora S IPS 0-100kph 4.7s, top speed 269kph, 9.7L/100km
Transmission: Six-speed auto, mid-engined, rear-wheel drive
Evora IPS 1436kg
Evora S IPS 1442kg

Would you buy the Lotus Evora? Tell us below

Simon Wood explains what upgrades were done to the Evora for our market, including replacing the external plastics with exotic carbon fibre!

2 responses to “Lotus Evora S IPS Review”

  1. Permadi says:

    Another crazy price from UAE dealer.
    Reminds me of 370Z pricing

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Good point – initial 370Z pricing was hilariously out of touch with the kinds of people who actually buy Zs. They’ve come back down to Earth now, but the damage has been done.

Leave a Reply to admin Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.