Lotus Evora S - Good, Bad and Ugly

Why the first supercharged Lotus Evora might not be as reliable as you think.

28w ago
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The Good

Firstly the good. What you get with an Evora is really stunning mini supercar looks. Its more than a grown up Elise. Its clever use of curves hides a mid-mounted engine, 2+2 layout and even a boot. What you also get is some of the quirks synonymous with supercars too. They can actually be part of its appeal, for example being the first iteration it is tricky to get in and out thanks to its high door sill.

However it does have a mid-engine and you feel that when you’re driving as it pushes you along. You sit very low down with the engine behind you. Its visible through the glass rear hatch. Well the optional plastic engine cover is. That's even more supercar stuff. You also have a thin rear letterbox screened at the back. It probably has less visibility car than a lot of more expensive modern supercars but that just adds to the appeal. It's almost in Countach territory for inconvenience and how is that not cool?

The Evora is in no way a supercar but it’s the closest thing you can get to being in a mini supercar and that makes it cool. Very cool.

The Evora original rear is far cleaner than the later 400 models

The Evora original rear is far cleaner than the later 400 models

The Bad

However, having driven this car for only 5,000 miles in nearly 3 years of ownership you would imagine it to be have been pretty reliable. Not so. Every time something broke I got it fixed but then almost immediately after that something else would break. This soured the ownership experience quite a bit.

O ne of the great things about Evora is its engine. One of the worse things about the Evora is its engine. It’s from a Toyota. Like most engines Lotus uses, it comes from another manufacturer. Sure Lotus tuned it to within an inch of its life but at its heart lies a Toyota unit. So what you get is more spirited V6 derived from a Camry. All Evora aficionados know this. Those that know though, know. As a result some of the less desirable comments directed toward the car focused on that Japanese lump out the back. "Nice Toyota mate!" cried one hoody clad anti-British car warrior on entry to BMW HQs carpark in Farnborough for a Pistonheads meet. Jeez, thanks buddy.

But surely it’s reliable though? Not necessarily. You see dropping another manufacturers engine into a hastily engineered Lotus doesn't always work out as you would expect . So what’s gone wrong with it?

The headlight units on the original Evora are emblazoned with a Lotus logo, later ones do not

The headlight units on the original Evora are emblazoned with a Lotus logo, later ones do not

The Ugly

Well, a common problem is the wheel arch liner brackets. These rusted through requiring replacement with some re-engineered aka improved after market ones. No biggy you might think but this was only the tip of the ice-berg.

The gear knob leather wore through required a new somewhat clunkier metal only knob to be fitted . It looked better but the shift became even more clunky.

Aftermarket later 400 style gear knob looks great but the fit made the shift even more notchy

Aftermarket later 400 style gear knob looks great but the fit made the shift even more notchy

The air-con leaked and needed a re-gas with the leak mysteriously fixing itself . A self healing Lotus. I could get used to this.

The cream of the crop though was when one of the catalytic converters disintegrated and deposited itself around Goodwood motor circuit. This car quite literally pooed its pants. Sorry marshals. Driving the car hard warms the cats up to unheard of temperatures not commonly experienced when driving on the road. Doing this repeatedly means the cats basically crumble. Replacing the cats with direct OEM parts will require you to sell a child. A new exhaust headers with a modified sports cat further away from the engine will fix it permanently but then you’ll need to sell all your children and maybe the wife.

Like passing a gallstone the Evora spewed this out of its exhaust. Thankfully without the engine ingesting it.

Like passing a gallstone the Evora spewed this out of its exhaust. Thankfully without the engine ingesting it.

Opting for neither of these, I took the cheaper if slightly riskier option. I fitted a used set of cats. I actually managed after some wrangling and knuckle scraping to fit one myself. Getting the other on via the engine access hatch behind the rear seats proved a step too far. There was simply no way to get purchase on the bolts. Thankfully Lakeside Engineering came to the rescue on that one. Wallet was lighter but not a light as it would have been going with the other two options.

Trying to remove a header from within such a tight space is akin to the child's game Operation only less fun.

Trying to remove a header from within such a tight space is akin to the child's game Operation only less fun.

Replacing the manifolds involved a bit of exhaust jiggling about to get them on. This led to the central downpipe being shifted about a lot. A central downpipe with some flexi pipe on it. Sure enough this started to blow. No problem you’d think, how much can a bit of flexi exhaust pipe be? Well from Lotus the answer is a lot. If you want your car to remain OEM which for any warranty you would then prepare to open the wallet again. Thanks again to Lakeside Engineering for fitting it, by this point I’d had enough of crawling underneath the newest most low mileage car I'd ever owned. It was also the first British car I had ever owned.

Finally a respite some actual driving lay ahead but fate would strike again. The starter motor expired right afternoon a trip to Lincolnshire to tackle Cadwell Park. Stock Evora's are not fans of track days. Surely being a Toyota engine they can’t be that much can it? Well no, they are. Attempt at refurbishment, buying reconditioned units or Toyota equivalent proved fruitless. More astronomical wallet lightening and some more severely grazed knuckles later and we were back on the road. Yes, time to get some miles in!

The Evora loved Cadwell Park. The starter motor did not.

The Evora loved Cadwell Park. The starter motor did not.

My joy was short lived. A new noise appeared. Some kind of gentle rattle. Surely a cheap fix this time? Well, I did not wait to find out as by now I could guess how the story would end. Time to call it quits and part with the only British car I’ve ever owned. Sorry Lotus but its Sauerkraut and Sushi for me from now on. You can take you Stewkey Blues and throw them back into the sea. For now at least. I’m done. At least until Lotus can pop an engine into a chassis without compromising all its ancillaries.

Sorry to say that in June of this year the Evora S and I parted company. It was probably one of the cheapest Evora S date. Don't ask me how much I sold it for.

Sorry to say that in June of this year the Evora S and I parted company. It was probably one of the cheapest Evora S date. Don't ask me how much I sold it for.

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