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Driven: Lotus Evora S IPS

Two-pedal Evora S expands auto options ... for those that way inclined

By GraemeLambert / Thursday, February 2, 2012

OK, first things first, if it was our own cash putting an Evora on the driveway, it would be a manual model.

Like an Evora S, just less involving ... er

Like an Evora S, just less involving ... er

That doesn't mean this latest model, the Evora S IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift), is any less relevant, and nor indeed should it be viewed as Lotus losing its way or straying from its roots. Dubious celebrity-obsessed marketing decisions aside, as ever with a Lotus it's the car that matters. We've already sampled both

engine and

in isolation, but they can now be had in combination.

A necessary evil
Launched to appease the Middle to Far East, and to a lesser extent the American market, this car occupies a narrow but hopefully profitable gap in the company's portfolio. And with recent events concerning parent firm Proton leaving a question mark over the firm's future, anything that can help stabilise its survival should be welcomed.

Two pedals bad, three pedals good

Two pedals bad, three pedals good

Right from the outset it's clear this particular set up is something of a mixed bag. Yes the core values - agility, communication and a surprisingly supple ride - of the Evora continue to shine through, but the experience is dulled by the six-speed automatic gearbox. Left to its own devices it shifts quickly through the ratios, maximising mpg and minimising CO2 emissions along the way. And with consistent and light throttle openings it's relatively smooth, but that's where it ends.

Old school auto
Drive this car as intended and the gearbox soon reveals its low-tech torque-converter origins though. While the throttle pedal promises instant response, the gearbox is reluctant to react, suddenly followed by some furious cog-swapping in a desperate attempt to select the correct ratio.

Slow-witted auto at odds with the rest

Slow-witted auto at odds with the rest

A flick of the paddles, mounted behind the feedback-full steering wheel, gives manual control, though if you leave them un-fingered for ten seconds the unit defaults back to Drive. Select Sport mode and the time limit is no more while throttle response is sharpened and the rev limit raised to 7,200rpm.

Up the creek with a paddle
If the Harrop supercharger is allowed to clear its throat and aim for the high notes the Evora S IPS demonstrates cracking pace. All is well, until, with throttle opened fully, you reach for the next ratio and after a noticeable lull in acceleration the gear engages with a thump through the drivetrain. There's less than snappy responses on the downshift cycle as well; too often the gearbox enthusiastically blips the revs but then leaves you waiting for the gear to fully engage - normally just as you pass the apex you were once aiming for.

Yes you can drive round these problems. A reduction of right foot angle as each change begins smoothens things out for instance and recalibration of the driver's brain sorts the timing on the road. But whatever you do this remains a frustrating package, not only because of that gearbox, but because all of the incredible bits of the Evora continue to shine through.

3,456cc V6, supercharged
Power (hp): 350@7,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@4,500rpm
0-62mph: 4.7 sec
Top speed: 172mph
Weight: 1,442kg
MPG: 29.3mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 224g/km
Price: £73,950 (as tested)

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