The Lotus Evora S is now available with an automatic transmission - but does it ruin the broth?
With ambitious global sale goals in mind, Lotus needs cars like the new Lotus Evora S IPS. The optional $5000 Intelligent Precision Shift six-speed automatic gearbox broadens the appeal of the Evora and allows Lotus to enter markets that would otherwise not consider a traditional manual car.
The Evora’s exterior design is a bi-product of the need for a larger Lotus and extra buyer reach for markets like the United States. The stylish exterior offers presence on the road, without detracting from the traditional sporty look associated with a Lotus.
Unfortunately, much like the six-speed manual gearbox, the IPS six-speed automatic gearbox is jerky and nowhere near as slick as it should be. The 3.5-litre supercharged V6 delivers the goods, but is let down by a lack of decent gearbox option.
Producing 258kW of power and 400Nm of torque, the Evora S sprints from 0-100km/h in just 5.0-seconds with the IPS gearbox and 4.8-seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox. The supercharger strapped to the 3.5-litre Toyota sourced V6 is built in Australia.
At low speeds, the automatic gearbox gets along nicely. But, as speed increases, the gearbox slows down with painful upshifts and forgetful downshifts. If you hit the Sport button, the IPS gearbox improves its manners, but is best self-managed by steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Be prepared for frustration though, as the IPS reverts back to full automatic mode within seconds of shifting gears with the paddle shifters – making it neither intelligent nor precise.
It’s a real shame, because the 1491kg Evora S is otherwise a well mannered and superb handling vehicle, with changes made to the 2012 Evora S bringing it back into competitor contention. Precise steering feel and excellent communication through the chassis hark back to the Exige and are thankfully still present in the bigger Evora.
The relatively light weight makes the Evora S fuel efficient. The Evora S manual consumes just 9.1L/100km, while the IPS uses 9.7L/100km. The non-supercharged six-speed manual Evora uses even less at 8.5L/100km, with the IPS using 8.8L/100km.
Inside the cabin, the Evora is smarter than ever with a number of Tech and Premium packs available that bring with them a large seven inch LCD screen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and parking sensors.
Steering and seat adjustments are fairly restrictive and in combination with hard to read dials make the interior pretty disappointing. The Evora is available in a +2 specification, as tested, but as you could imagine the rear seats are useful as luggage holders only. Boot volume is 160 litres, which is pretty small and only large enough to store a couple of travel bags.
Drive the Evora S in a sedate manner and it feels like a grown-up GT car. The ride on coarse roads is great and there’s not much in the way of wind or road noise. The engine and exhaust sound absolutely sensational, so it’s a battering to the Lotus brand that this package is let down by such a confused automatic gearbox.
It will certainly appeal for the markets it is intended for, but the IPS takes away control and feel that would otherwise be afforded with a manual gearbox.
Priced from $123,990 for the Evora, the Evora S starts at $145,990. That kind of money will buy you the top-spec BMW Z4 sDrive35is, Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG or Porsche Cayman – very hard options to pass when the Evora gearbox is such a weak link.