Adventuring in the Punchy 2020 Lotus Evora GT

This dynamic, fast car is a joy to drive—quirks and all

Imagine for a moment a true sports car—one that was under $100k and didn’t need to be optioned over that in order to be enjoyed. Having spent several days behind the wheel of the 2020 Evora GT, a variant of their long-standing model, it’s clear it follows the Lotus ethos. From sublime handling to punchy power-delivery, the latest from the rejuvenated brand has plenty in common spiritually with the supercars made by their fellow countrymen at McClaren in Woking, England. Even a brief stint behind the wheel of the Evora GT imparts a great deal about why Lotus is held in such high regard (especially for driving dynamics) and how, with just a bit more attention paid to fit and finish, the Evora GT could be one of the most important cars in this segment.

This svelte car (with a 3,112-pound body) has been based on a principle of minimalism, one that Lotus has long maintained on the racetrack and on the street. Though not an exotic sports car the Evora GT sits at that end of the spectrum due to its neck-snapping looks, mid-engine layout and almost telepathic steering. The supercharged 3.5-liter, V-6 engine (sourced from Toyota) makes it very quick but not quite blisteringly fast. True exotic cars are the latter, but outright speed isn’t the sole purpose of the Evora GT. Rather this car makes the absolute most of what’s available.

As sports cars have improved across the board, we’ve come to believe that the speed at which a car builds up a driver’s confidence is a reasonable way to separate the good from the great. The Evora GT is the automotive equivalent of a heartfelt halftime locker room speech. In this vehicle, drivers are rewarded with an experience akin to that of cars which pre-date the digital invasion, or super cars that are astronomically expensive.

Wonderful as it is, the Evora GT is still a true British sports car and that means it is not without its quirks. The most frustrating issue we encounter is the unpredictable process of blipping the throttle for heel/toe downshifts. This technique is usually one of the most enjoyable aspects of driving a manual transmission sports car, but not in the Evora GT. Still, when this method succeeds, the downshifts were crisp and made for some of the most satisfying moments in our driving adventure. We also imagine this issue will be resolved when the 2021 Evora GT arrives. We’re not in love with the Alpine stereo unit that sticks out, and found moments of clunkiness through the interior—but that’s a matter of personal taste.

The Evora GT is the most powerful Lotus ever sold in the USA and when we are hustling through tight canyons overlooking the Pacific ocean and exploring inland mountain roads (ahead of a number of competitors both old and new) this is evident. The Evora GT comes standard with the joyful handling Lotus has made their name on and certainly rivals that of McLaren. The Ohlins dampers are so incredibly well-tuned and the suspension so well-suited to the car that we wonder momentarily if all these adaptive suspension set-ups offered by the rest of the industry are just lazy. That one set-up can be so dialed in and so well-suited to a variety of situations is somewhat baffling and very, very impressive.

Clearly the majority of the effort that went into making the Evora GT was focused toward the driving dynamics. A little more attention on a few more superficial details would push the Evora GT from a niche product to a mainstream homage to the analog sports cars of the past. We enjoy cars like this: ones that require attention and a little bit of labor to understand and enjoy.

Images by Andrew Maness