Car Reviews First Tests

2017 Lotus Evora 400 First Test: Upshift

From Glorified Kit Car to Cut-Rate McLaren

From Glorified Kit Car to Cut-Rate McLaren

The last U.S.-legal Lotuses sold were 2014s, and apparently the gnomes in Hethel have not wasted the intervening years. The 2017 Evora 400 looks like a minor freshening, but two-thirds of its parts are spanking new. The old car was a slowish, fragile, ergonomic disaster with Jeckyl/Hyde corner-entry oversteer and corner-exit push that earned it a last-place finish in our 2011 Best Driver’s Car contest. The new one is speedier and better assembled and has more neutral handling, and you drive it with your feet in front of you.

The speed comes from a new Edelbrock supercharger that ups boost from 2.9 to 8.7 psi and adds an intercooler, bumping output by 55 hp and 7 lb-ft to 400 and 302. A low-inertia flywheel improves responsiveness, too. The redesigned aluminum tub lowers and slims the castle-rampart door sills by 2.2 and 1.7 inches and widens the pedal box by 3.3 inches to fix the pedal-offset problem. Chassis tweaks include doubling the negative front camber, increasing toe in the front and reducing it in the rear, halving the bump-steer, stiffening the rear Eibach springs (by 16 percent), stiffening the powertrain mounts, and significantly upgrading the tires, from Pirelli P Zeros to Michelin Pilot Super Sports (which also get 10mm wider in the rear).

2017 Lotus Evora 400 rear three quarter in motion 07

How’s it all work? Acceleration times drop by 0.3-0.5 second throughout the quarter-mile run. Lateral grip matched our last Evora S at 0.97 g, and braking (from enlarged two-piece AP Racing discs) trailed by a couple feet at 104 from 60 mph. But based on a vehicle tested in Michigan and California, grip on our Michigan surface appears to be 7 percent lower, so we expect 1.0-plus g and a solid sub-100-foot stop on our usual surfaces. A 25-minute lapping session of Gingerman Raceway revealed fear-free dynamic handling with strong turn-in bite, gentle and controllable corner-entry rotation, and sure-footed corner exits.

Starting at $93,785 USD, the Evora 400 roughly competes on price and performance with an optioned Cayman GT4 or GTS. Our test car’s build quality even approaches Porsche’s. Where Lotus wins is on exclusivity—with only 400 Evora 400s bound for North America, it may eclipse mid-engine Brit rival McLaren on that score.

2017 Lotus Evora 400
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD
ENGINE TYPE Supercharged 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 210.9 cu in/3,456 cc
COMPRESSION RATIO 10.8:1
POWER (SAE NET) 400 hp @ 7,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 302 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
REDLINE 7,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 8.0 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.78 (1-4), 3.24 (5,6,R):1/2.79:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 16.0:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.9
BRAKES, F; R 14.6-in vented, drilled disc; 13.8-in vented, drilled disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R 8.0 x 19 in; 10.0 x 20 in forged aluminum
TIRES, F;R 235/35ZR19 91Y; 285/30ZR20 99Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE 110.4 in
TRACK, F/R 61.6/62.0 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 172.6 x 72.6 x 48.4 in
GROUND CLEARANCE 5.5 in
TURNING CIRCLE 33.3 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3,200 lb
WEIGHT DIST, F/R 39/61%
SEATING CAPACITY 4
HEADROOM, F/R 36.5/29.0 in (est)
LEGROOM, F/R 43.0/25.9 in (est)
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 49.2/46.5 in (est)
CARGO VOLUME 5.7 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 1.4 sec
0-40 2.0
0-50 3.2
0-60 4.2
0-70 5.2
0-80 6.9
0-90 8.4
0-100 10.0
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.1
QUARTER MILE 12.6 sec @ 111.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 104 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.97 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2,180 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
BASE PRICE $93,785
PRICE AS TESTED $104,085
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side/head
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE none
FUEL CAPACITY 15.9 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 16/24/19 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 211/140 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.03 lb/mile
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium