DRIVEN: 2012 M/Y LOTUS EVORA
Now with added engine noise, and a satisfying thunk...
Yes, news sometimes travels slowly through the fens, which is why I find myself writing about a 2012 model-year Lotus Evora distinguished - in part at least - by doors modified to 'close with a satisfying thunk'. It's also distinguished by a much improved gearshift action, significantly upgraded interior trim, and (wait for it...) some properly sporty engine noise. Amongst all that good news, it would seem churlish to point out that some of the minor controls still don't 'fall readily to hand', but give it time!
They've not only listened, they've acted. And the result is (I think) an entirely credible package of upgrades that bring the Evora much more closely into line with competitors it aspires to rival. (You know, the ones who've had whole departments working on door 'thunk' since 1975.)
It's the new door action you'll appreciate first, unless you're very good. In which case you might spot the new seamless (and much tidier) door-seals through the window glass on your approach. Open the door, and the new weightier, 'quality' sound and feel is immediately obvious, achieved by renewing the entire 1960s-style latch mechanism with an up-to-date system.
OK, it's not yet up to the standard of Porsche or Mercedes ergonomically, and some of the details still grate. But the key difference is that those details are now relatively minor ones - the electric window switches and interior door releases could be nice aluminium instead of cheap plastic, for instance - but the Lotus guys promise they'll get around to those too in due course. Meanwhile, they've swapped in a new steering wheel that's anatomically designed to move your hands from ten-to-two to a 'racier' quarter-to-three, and changed the gear knob from an aluminium barrel to something that looks 'designed'.
The Norfolk roads were the slipperiest they've been since Noah and the Flood when I went for the briefest of spins in the 2012 Evora IPS auto and S, alongside a 2011 S earlier this week. But while the drive was a little on the tentative side, the new car still felt rewardingly sporty in ways the old one didn't - and a new exhaust set-up gets the credit for that.
All in all, it's a great start to an evolution programme that now looks like being carried on until at least 2014 as part of a strategy that - with the help of new model derivatives like the GTE and others in the pipeline - should help bridge the gap until that famous 'Lotus 5 year plan' is fulfilled.
And at the very least, the 2012 changes definitely make the Evora worth another look, especially as although the modifications have added something like 3 percent to the Bill of Materials, Lotus has very decently decided to 'split the difference'. So expect to pay an average of 1.5 percent on top of 2011 model-year prices, if you're newly tempted.