Lotus Evora S tested on track

We take the Evora S out for a few laps at the Dubai Autodrome

By Shahzad Sheikh

Lotus Evora S at the Dubai Autodrome on track

We were one of the first ones to review the new GCC spec Lotus Evora S on UAE roads back in October last year. Go and read the full review here.

You’re back? Read it? Yeah right, of course you did.

Okay. In a nutshell, I loved it. It was the most visceral and raw experience I had had in a road-going sports car for a long time. The feedback, the feel, the sensations, the racecar-like responses and the articulate driving experience – not to mention it’s a pretty little thing – left me utterly in love with the Evora S.

It has two seats in the back – sort of – and whilst I would not recommend you inflict them on any humans you actually like, it’s a sop to the implied everyday practicality, which it is easy to be sceptical about. But having driven it around all day, in traffic, on mountains roads and along motorways, I concluded that it was a remarkably capable everyday car. And once I’d mastered ingress and egress with a modicum of dignity, I reckon I could live with it as my daily driver.

Lotus Evora S at the Dubai Autodrome on track

However it would not be worthy enough to wear the initials of Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman in the yellow and green badge on its nose it if it wasn’t able to embrace track-day duties. And it’s not always a given that just because a car is good to drive on the road it will be good on the track – and vice versa. Very few get both right.

So when the call came in from Al Futtaim and Lotus UAE asking if I’d like to join them for their first customer track day, I was out the door and charging to the Dubai Autodrome before they’d finished asking the question.

What’s it like then? Well the guys at Lotus are continuing to do Chapman proud. Any performance deficit you may feel on the road, dissipates when it’s just you, the Evora and the track. Everything seems to happen incredibly rapidly because you are so low to the ground and every bit of the road surface is being telexed directly to your bottom. Yes on the long start-finish straight, you do run out of acceleration two-thirds of the way down, but you’ll still come in pretty hot towards the first corner if you’re not careful.

Lotus Evora S at the Dubai Autodrome on track

The steering is exquisite, with just about perfect weighting, responsiveness, and feedback. The confidence levels barely take a lap to surge up your self-delusional ability scale. Turn-in is eager, but not too sharp, the assistance is dialled back, you know you’re doing the work here. If there are electronics helping you out, they’re being very discreet about it.

The poise is spot-on – there is barely any understeer, but there is oversteer in small, carefully deployed doses designed not to catch out even the dopiest of drivers. I get a bit sideways into the left hand sweeper after the esses and a dab of opposite lock correction gathers it all up and we keep up the momentum into the right-hander. The action was almost reflexive and utterly natural.

Having said that there is great grip and even riding the rumble strips caused merely a slight shifting of position but no drama. Fortunately the brakes were strong too and free of fade despite the repeated abuse they were taking on the day.

Lotus Evora S at the Dubai Autodrome on track

Can’t I find anything to criticise? Well yes okay. The gearbox. There are paddle shifts of course, but it’s a regular torque convertor automatic sourced from Toyota (as is the engine of course). The downshifts were okay, but the upshifts were slurred, imprecise and not quite as responsive to the fingertips as I would have liked. Several times I overran into the limiter. Plus there’s no sense of occasion – no clunk or thunk, no satisfying slamming-in of ratios.

I have to put a proviso on this though, because chatting to Lotus chaps later, I was told that the setup had been reconfigured for the white car I was driving as they were experimenting with the box. That might explain it, because I recall the yellow car I drove on the road to have far more snappier upchanges. Having said that, a car like this deserves a dual-clutch system.

Lotus Evora S at the Dubai Autodrome on track

Aside from that, the Evora proved itself entirely adept at track duties and at the end of the day, would happily don its civilian persona again and drive you home. Impressively and contrary to most people’s perceptions, both Evoras on the day seemed to be behaving themselves with no issues apart from obvious tyre wear – don’t forget this was a whole morning of customers pounding around the National Circuit configuration and professional drivers then doing high-speed passenger rides.

So in conclusion then, I want it even more than before now. Totally. Who’s got the devil’s number? I want to call him up and do a deal!

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