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Lotus Evora 400

7 August 2015
Princeton, NJ
I figured I would write some sort of review here in case anyone was interested in the car.

Three weeks ago I picked up a Lotus Evora 400 as a Covid purchase from a private dealer. I was previously driving a 2016 Lexus GSF and my wife said she wanted my car so I could have free reign to find the next car. There was a lot of thought that went into this, but ultimately I am very happy with the decision. I had daily'd the GSF about a year and I am very happy with the car, but as it fell short in a couple ways and with the spare cash we had from all the cancelled vacations I did some research and ultimately landed on a Lotus. I cross shopped the Lexus LC500 and also the BMW F80 M3.

Most of the reviews on youtube will say what you need to hear in terms of features, performance, numbers, etc so I won't go into too much detail. Ultimately, my wife convinced me to buy the car. Having the right partner makes all the difference in the world, so I feel very lucky to be married to the right person. She worked me through my reasoning even though she doesn't understand too much about cars, and when the time came she took the trip with me and was 100% supportive. She even was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it was and took lots of pictures for me.

Anyway, I will say that anyone considering such a car should go out and DRIVE them. I did a lot of research but my mind completely changed when I drove the cars. Between the dealership experience, the emotions you feel when flooring it, and the "wow" factor when you see the car- those are all things you can't do on just by researching on the internet. I also wanted to test drive the Honda Civic Type-R but the dealership experience was so bad I decided against it. Honda dealership kept me waiting and offered no test drives. This is also what turned me off to the M3. I loved how the M3 offered everything along with a manual transmission, but when driving it I remember thinking to myself "this doesn't feel fast." The throws were long and the exhaust was underwhelming. It fell short and then I realized why all the used BMWs I saw were modified. People just weren't happy with the car.

Compared to the NSX: I remember thinking to myself on the test drive of an automatic Evora 400 "this is the first car that I felt drove better than the NSX." My NSX isn't stock so it is hardly a fair comparison, but I do remember myself thinking three things: the steering was just as compliant, the suspension was very good in the corners, and the seats were very supportive and comfortable. The build quality in the NSX is better. Visibility is WAY better in the NSX. However, all the analog gauges and controls follow the "spirit" of the NSX. Even the way the door handles are positioned and the snugness of the cabin are the small things that carry over into the Evora, besides the mid-engine and manual transmission. I liked the layout of the buttons on the 400-they are simple and make sense, another thing you will only realize when you actually sit in the car. You can turn the exhaust into 'loud' mode in the Evora, although in my honest opinion the C30 engine still sounds better. I couldn't find too much on the web about shifter feel but the shifts are very smooth and confident in the Evora 400. I know the older than 2012 Evoras didn't have the same shifter, so that's important to note. Overall, if you are used to the driving experience of an NSX, I think you will find a Lotus Evora being very similar just with back seats and smaller windows.

Compared to my Lexus GSF: The GSF is a naturally aspirated 5.0L 8 cylinder engine powered sedan with a TVD and big brakes. After switching to the Evora, I do miss a few things. All the raving about "build quality" in Lexus is very true. The quality of the sound system, the paint job, and the transmission are all top notch in the Lexus. The Evora's sound system is trash. People bash the Evora's entertainment system as well but I think Lexus's in-house system is not much better. The Alpine system on the Evora actually responds quicker than the Lexus and it also has the added benefit of Android Auto. Because of that, there is no need for in-car navigation and I don't have to block one of my vents off with a stupid cell phone mount. Lexus's safety systems, as unnecessary as they are, are all things I miss. Radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert (to alert around you when you back out), lane keep assist, touch-to-lock doors: the Lexus has them and they have been welcome additions. The Evora has a backup camera + sensors, heated seats, and cruise control, that's it. It keeps you quick on your toes and alert. As to the driving experience, the Evora definitely feels faster and more agile than the Lexus. Although the Lexus puts out way more horsepower, it weights about 900 pounds more and doesn't have the kick of forced induction. I only ever felt fast in the Lexus at high revs in sport mode; if you weren't in sport mode, the throttle, shifts, and acceleration were all painfully sluggish. In the Evora, it always feels fast. In terms of the suspension, I find that both are suitable for daily + track driving. They are both firm but compliant enough to not be a bother on roads. Seats are also awesome in both. Although the Lexus seats are very well made and have 3 heated functions + cooling, the bottom line is that on long trips the Evora felt more comfortable. You just have to get used to the manual adjustment of the seats. The steering of both cars is good, though I would give the edge to the Lotus whereas the Lexus has a much higher quality steering wheel. I could go on but I think you get the gist. They are both very good drivers cars. The GSF does not have a manual, whereas the Lotus lacks the build quality. Take your pick.

Standing on its own: The Lotus Evora 400 is a very good car. It really is positioned against the Porsche 911 but here in NJ Porsches are so common no one will bat an eye if you drive one around. When you first get in the car and take that first corner, you should know whether the Lotus is for you. The throttle mechanism moving in the rear view, the simplicity of the dash, the comfort of the cabin- if you notice these subtle things and like them, then you have your answer. If you don't have a Lotus dealership near you, then it may be hard to perform certain services. However, I was told all basic services (besides clutch replacement) are DIY-possible. Finally, I will say what also tipped in Lotus's favor is the crowd. I browsed for months on bimmerforums and lotustalk and saw that the Lotus crowd is much more my type. They are smart, helpful, and friendly. You can even tell by the vendors and the products they offer. There is plenty of room for fun modding if you have money burning a hole in your pockets. Does the Lotus Evora 400 have its drawbacks? Yes, it does. But any true sportscar will have drawbacks, it's what defines them. It is up to you to decide if you appreciate those drawbacks for what they give you.

So here it is. Anyone who considers one should definitely try driving it.

That's a pretty good write up about the Lotus. Glad you are enjoying it.

BTW, I have a 2018 M3 Comp/6MT and it is probably the 2nd best car I've owned. My 1994 NSX being the best.

You really can't compare the M3 to any two door, mid engine car like the Lotus. Did you test drive a base or Comp M3? As for the shift knob and feel, yeah the standard one feels like crap. I put in a MPerformance shift knob and it changed the entire feel of shifting. For me I needed a four door car that had great performance, and can be had with three pedals. I wouldn't even consider a Civic Type-R as I'll never own another AHM product again. Plus, the materials and build quality of the BMW is so much better than any Honda/Acura. I also like how I can individually program the M to suit my driving needs for different driving styles. The engine pulls strong, and it's fast enough for where I live driving from stop light to stoplight.
Nice Lotus.....The owners I have met are like the nsx crowd.....I want to see some pics of real humans in those back seats....:biggrin:
Thank you for sharing it and congrats! I have always been fascinated by the Evora, and it's great to hear perspectives from another NSX owner.
Congratulations on your new purchase. Also, happy to hear that both your wife and you are happy!

Thank you for your detailed comparison. It reminds me of this article by R&T. https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/a20883139/2018-lotus-evora-400-1991-acura-nsx/

Sorry to hear about your Civic Type R experience. I know someone who also had a bad experience. In the end, he did buy the car, but without a test drive. He was only able to drive it after signing the papers.
I understand lots of people want to test drive the car, but a dealership should be able to distinguish a potential and serious buyer. I wonder how many customers they loose.
Nice write up! I'm always drooling over Caymans, but have heard good things about the Lotus Evora 400 and were I wanting to replace my NSX with a non-Porsche, I would look closely at this car. It seems to me to be much more of a logical successor to the NA1/NA2 cars than the NC1 was. I'll be watching for you to post an update, a "long-term" review of your car!:smile:
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I understand I was not the typical consumer, cross shopping an M3, Lotus, and a CTR. Those are all completely different cars. I'm also extremely biased- I didn't even consider the 911 even though it's a direct competitor to the Lotus.

I have not been to the Lotus dealership yet for service so we'll see how happy I am with them. At least it's only 5 minutes from my house. The Lexus dealership is very good near me. They let me double check things and all their recommendations have been textbook. I trust them and that is not easy to say about any dealership.

Speaking about ownership, the boot locked on me last week and my tennis equipment was stuck in their for a whole day! I guess I should've known- the Evora I test drove also had a broken boot. This is something you never have to worry about in a Lexus haha. My wife had to wiggle the spoiler while I pulled the emergency release in order to get it out. Imagine if I was in an emergency!

Soon I am going to get the car wrapped as having two black, supercharged, mid-engine rear wheel drive cars seems a bit redundant to me. Inozetek is coming out with their new colors soon and I am looking out for their new blues/purples. If I don't see anything good from them I may just go with the Metallic Midnight Purple which seems to be very popular right now.
Lets see a pic of an adult in the back seat:biggrin: