It rode and handled in a way that put nearly everything else in its shade, and it's yours from £20k

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The Lotus Evora arrived in 2011 as an answer to the practical problems created by the admirable, but much smaller Lotus Elise.

The Evora's younger brother might have had pure and animal-like intercommunication between car and driver, but it wasn't much cop if you wanted to travel further than the local pub or if you had to take your children to school.

Enter, stage left, the Evora – a 2+2 coupé with all the swagger and a three-section composite body (with easily replaceable plastic bumpers) but with a token nod towards comfort and touring.

Launched in 2009, it seemed to be the answer to either numerous prayers or the question no one posed. Naturally, it is not a Mercedes S-Class rival.

Peak behind the welcoming front seats and you will see an extra pair of rather teeny rear seats, such as only the very young, impressively flexible and eternally optimistic would want to explore. (Which is why some Evoras were also sold without +2 seating.) 

The whole thing is powered by an eager, all-alloy and transversely mounted 3456cc V6, admittedly also found in a Toyota Camry and a Lexus RX 350 once upon a time, but here with a bespoke Lotus electronic throttle map, making it good for 276bhp at 6400rpm.

That’s enough to give the 1382kg Lotus performance in the order of a 162mph top speed and 0-60mph in just 5.4sec.

The first cars got the Launch Pack, comprising Tech (sat-nav, parking aids, cruise control), Sport (cross-drilled discs, a deeper spoiler and uprated exhaust) and Premium (extra leather, heated seats, reversing camera).

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Faster versions followed, including the S, the 400, the Sport 410, a GT410 Sport and a GT430, the last with a top speed just shy of the 200mph mark.

When it was refreshed in 2012, the cabin gained the Premium Pack as standard, improved door locks, better sound deadening and a new infotainment system.

Standard Evoras also gained the S’s thicker rear anti-roll bar, stiffer wishbone bushes and a more compelling exhaust note.

But, look, a Lotus – any Lotus – is about more than just comfort, straight-line speed and sound. It’s about handling finesse, and here the Evora excelled.

It’s one of those rare and wonderful cars that is happy to corner in whichever way its driver wants it to. 

Double-wishbone suspension, Eibach springs and Bilstein dampers, brake parts by AP Racing and standard-fit Pirelli P Zeros (18in items at the front, 19s at the rear) make sure of that.

The steering has a lovely linear feel with perfect weighting, not an ounce too heavy and not too light. Without excess provocation, the Evora will grip soundly until its front wheels start to slip.

It can be provoked into a predictable, wonderfully forgiving slide. (There’s an electronic lock for the open differential.)

Switching out the traction control’s intervention completely is the point from where the Evora’s chassis really shows its mettle. In our eyes, no other production car of the time handled as well as an Evora once beyond its limits.

It rode well too, at least in its original form. In faster driving, the Evora maintains a supple ride across crests and bumps, with high levels of body control.

Only the loose, vague gearshift of the early cars lets it down, but no serious reliability issues have raised their head. The engines are still doing a shift, as is the Eaton supercharger on S models.

The Toyota-derived six-speed IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) automatic transmission arrived in 2010. Although it exacts slight penalties on performance and efficiency, it is more reliable than the trouble-prone manual, with its slack cables.

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Lotus fitted tighter ones and then the 2012-model-year refresh brought low-friction gear selection cables and a low-inertia flywheel.

The loose gearbox cables that blighted some early cars have been tweaked, and the floppy door handles have since been rectified. 

Lotus Evora 2011-2015 common problems

Engine: The chain-driven Toyota V6 is reliable but check the ECU for any record of over-revving. There have been some reported problems with the Edelbrock supercharger, albeit mostly in US cars.

Check the engine has been serviced every year or 9000 miles and the exhaust mounts are sound (a warranty issue on early cars). Expect around 23mpg from the original Evora and the S in everyday use. 

Gearbox: On early cars, manual gearchange cables can stretch, become noisy and make changes difficult. Adjustment or replacement requires interior trim removal.

Later cars solved the issue with better cables. The clutch can fail as early as 25,000 miles. Check that the IPS gearbox changes smoothly.

Suspension and brakes: The Evora should steer, brake and ride like you would expect a Lotus to. Watch out for signs of track abuse. Uneven tyre wear could indicate misaligned tracking caused by a past crash. A knocking at the front is likely to be worn anti-roll bar bushes.

Body: Check the panel gaps because any out-of-shape parts of the composite bodywork will be expensive to set right. Rust won’t be a problem, though. Tailgate panels can get dented by over-enthusiastic use. Bootlids and petrol filler caps can give trouble. 

Interior: Early cars were criticised for poor interior quality but this improved in later examples. Sat-nav has been criticised for its level of efficiency and response.

Check for worn driver’s seat side bolsters, door speakers, lower fascia and fragile leather facings on sills.


If you abide by the maintenance schedule and find yourself a tidy example that doesn't look tastelessly modified, this could this be most usable second-hand Lotus out there.

This fact is obviously recognised by its owners because, at the time of writing, there are just over 30 up for sale, and prices are only going one way.

But look on the bright side, the cheapest example comes in at around £20,000 and you can bag yourself a tidy one for only £5000 more than that.

So, you could either grab a brand new, boggo Audi A3 or a spacious, refined, and potentially reliable Lotus that handles brilliantly, still goes like stink and retains value like lipstick clinging to a guilty man’s collar. Manna from Hethel.

An expert’s view

Jamie Matthews, Bell and Colvill: “The Evora is for someone looking for a performance car that’s a little bit different. Buyers are enthusiasts who are shrewd and knowledgeable. Some may be looking at a Cayman, too, but the Evora out-rides and out-handles it while being that bit more practical. The Lotus is much rarer, too.

“When looking at a used one, check the clutch for any slip and a heavy pedal, and listen for a louder-thanusual chattering sound at idle. A new clutch can cost you £3000 but they can last up to 40,000 miles. “My pick? A 2011-model-year S for around £35,000.”

Lotus Evora S 2011-2015 First drives