During my conversation with him, Simoes mentioned that he has a Lotus Evora S GP Edition in stock, and asked if I would like to have a go in it? It would have been rude to say no.
I have reviewed the Lotus Evora in the past, and liked it a lot, although wished it had more power. With the introduction of the Evora S model, the power issue was resolved, but what does the GP Edition bring to the table?
Most obvious is the color scheme. Modeled after their current Formula-One racer, the Evora S GP Edition wears the same black and gold colors, with red accents and gold wheels. On most cars, such a color scheme would look tacky, but it works really well with the lines of the Evora.
Open the door and you are greeted with lovely sports seats with the classic Lotus GP logo embroidered into the headrest. Most all of the interior surfaces are either covered in leather or a material Lotus calls SuedeTex.
The interior design is quite pleasing, although not as practical as Lotus might want you to think it is. It might be classified as a 2+2, but trying to put anyone in its tiny back seats should be considered a new form of torture.
Ergonomics is not among its strong points either. Some of the switches like the power mirror adjustment is in the most awkward position imaginable, the pedals are all offset to the right thanks to the front wheel-arch intruding into the cockpit, the rear window is almost useless, and getting in and out with its wide sill and low ceiling requires you to contort like a yoga instructor.
Once seated, you’ll find the seats to be excellent; they might look thin, but support you in all the right areas.
Being the GP Edition, this Evora S came with the Technology Package as standard, which means you get parking sensors, cruise control, and the same awful, Pioneer touch screen navigation/infotainment system that you’ll find in a Subaru BRZ.
However, if you’re looking for in-car entertainment in a Lotus, turn the stereo off and start driving.
On smooth, long stretches of tarmac, the Evora S comes alive. This GP Edition has the same motor and gearbox found in any other Evora S, which means a Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter, V6 engine with a supercharger. Max output is 345-hp at 7000-rpm and 295-lb/ft of torque. While you might be thinking that there are lots of cars on the market these days that have similar if not higher power outputs, what most other new cars can’t match the Lotus on is in the weight department. At just 1,440-kg, the Evora S is quite a bit lighter than most modern sports cars. Given the power to weight ratio, as you can imagine, this car is quite quick. 0-100 km/h is dealt with in just 4.6 seconds (feels a lot quicker than that), while its top speed is quoted at 286 km/h. This is a properly quick car.
While nowadays you can order the Evora S with a six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters (IPS), my tester had the proper six-speed manual gearbox. This is not the slickest manual gearbox in the business. It is not a heavy gearbox, but requires some proper guiding into the gate. This gearbox is by no means as refined or easy to use as an Audi manual, but seemed to be an improvement over the last one I tested (or maybe I have just gotten used to it now).
The pedal box is tight, so if you are wearing big shoes, you always have to be a bit more careful as to which pedal you’ll be pressing, and there is no space for your left foot to rest on. However, in racing shoes, making heel and toe downshifts are quite easy, and enjoyable.
To really enjoy the Evora S, you have to press the Sport button on the dashboard. This sharpens up the throttle response, plus also opens its butterfly valves in the exhaust, and then this car starts to sound as good as it looks.
The centrally mounted sport exhaust makes beautiful music, and eggs you on to keep pushing it higher and higher. The engine is smooth and revs up quite quickly (it certainly doesn’t feel like it is related to the engine found in a Toyota Camry). At high speeds, the car stays planted, with its rear diffuser providing much needed aerodynamic downforce. Couple the speed with its stability and you soon realize that this is an ideal car to cover distances in quickly.
It is also most ideal on the back roads. Show it twists and turns and it is at its happiest. Thanks to its light weight and sophisticated fully independent suspension layout, along with a light and precise steering, it is simply a joy to drive.
Like the Acura NSX before it, the Evora S utilizes different wheel sizes in the front versus the rear. You get 19-inch in the front, and 20-inch wheels at the back. My tester wore 235/35/ZR19’s at the front and 275/30/ZR20’s at the rear. Pirelli P-Zeros is the tire of choice for this car, which is certainly amongst the best performance tire on the market. The car feels so sharp and agile and responds to your inputs so accurately, that driving a normal car after this one just feels dull and sloppy. For a low-slung, mid-engined sportscar, the ride is remarkably good, even on broken city streets. While you can hear going over cracks, tar strips and pot holes, you don’t feel them in your bottom. So this is a comfortable mid-engined car that can be used every day.
However, you don’t need to find yourself an Evora S GP Edition to get these thrills, but what Lotus had done was to equip this limited edition model (of which only 15-examples came to North America, with possibly only 3 in Canada) with the Sport Package as standard. That means you got the titanium exhaust, sport diffuser, a switchable sport mode that sharpens the throttle response, while also increasing the rev-limit, plus sets the traction and stability control in a Dynamic Performance Management (DPM) setting, which will ensure you will appear to be a better track driver than you probably are.
What the GP Edition adds that you can’t get in any other Evora is the color scheme. Painted to look like Kimi Raikonen’s F1 racer (which won the opening round of the 2013 Formula-One season in Australia) and the Evora GT4 racer, not only does the car look great, but the reaction you get from the public suggests that they like what they are seeing and give you the approving nod.
However, getting your hands on one might not be easy. As mentioned before, only 15 examples made it to North America, and they were all 2012 models. However, browsing through the internet, you can find the GP Edition for sale, for example at Gentry Lane. Price for a brand new Evora S GP Edition in Canada was about $105,000. A brand new Evora starts at $76,900 – while the Evora S models starts from $89,200.
Lotus hasn’t announced any special edition versions of the Evora for North America for the 2013MY, but I hope that they will offer one, and I hope it will be every bit as exciting as the GP Edition.