The six-figure sports car market is more crowded now than ever before. Affluent buyers can choose from countless brands and models that generally offer a similar experience, a big engine up front or in the middle, a quick-shifting automatic transmission, and a host of numerous electronic systems designed to tame the driving experience and keep unskilled on the road.
However, in this shuffle for greater performance, many of today’s sports cars have lost a crucial element vital to a fun time, driver engagement. This week’s tester, the 2021 Lotus Evora GT, provides a stark reminder that an enjoyable sports car doesn’t need a million horsepower or over-the-top stability systems. With a screaming supercharged engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and a lightweight shell, the Evora GT delivers a driving experience that few cars can match.
A passing glance at the 2021 Lotus Evora GT design leaves a good chunk of people somewhat confused as to what they’ve just seen. Is it a supercar or a sports car? In fact, during my week with the Evora, more than one person congratulated me on my “good-looking blue Ferrari.” This is because, despite its small size, the Evora stands out. Granted, the bright Riviera Blue paint on my tester certainly helped. However, the Evora’s low stance, sloping roofline, and aggressive aerodynamic elements make a good poster car, even to the untrained eye.
While the GT is without a doubt the most focused version of the Evora the U.S. market will ever see, it just so happens also to be the best looking. My tester came equipped with an optional $10,000 Carbon Pack, which not only helps reduce the car’s overall weight by almost 50 lb but significantly contributes to its aggressive aesthetic. Throw in some contrasting pieces finished in gloss black, and you’ve got a recipe for visual success.
On paper, the 2021 Lotus Evora GT doesn’t immediately make much sense. With an as-tested price of $116,000, there are other vehicles on sale for similar money that offer more power, greater refinement, and more tech features. However, almost none of those competitors can touch the Evora when the going gets twisty.
As mentioned earlier, the Evora GT is powered by a supercharged engine placed right behind the driver’s seat. With the six-speed manual transmission, the 2021 Evora GT’s engine, a 3.5-liter V6, with Toyota origins develops 416 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. Opt for the automatic, and the torque figure grows to 332 lb-ft. In total, the Evora GT weighs around 3,175-lb and can reach 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds.
All of that power goes to the rear wheels exclusively, where a Torsen limited-slip differential puts it to the ground. Additionally, my tester had sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that work excellently when you get some heat into them, even in the rain. To top things off, the Evora GT gets AP Racing brakes with ventilated rotors as standard to ensure excellent stopping power.
From the moment I hit the mountains in the Evora GT, it was clear what this car was designed to do. It provides immediate driver engagement and fun over pretty much everything else. Put your foot down, and you’ll get consistent power and supercharger noise to the GT’s redline. Since this engine is happiest above 4,000 rpm, you can hold lower gears and let it scream as you make your way through a fun road.
The manual transmission’s shifter is short and easy to operate, meaning you don’t have to worry about miss-shifts, even while carrying a quick pace. Additionally, the Evora GT remains tremendously balanced and controllable, allowing for a driving experience that is engaging without being challenging. I’d argue that the Evora GT’s competence on the road means that even unskilled drivers can still go out and have a great time.
Couple a balanced chassis with a hydraulic power steering and the responsive AP racing brakes, and you’ve got a driving experience that is refreshingly simple but outrageously fun. The Evora GT is not a vehicle that wins on its specs; it’s all about how it makes you feel on the road.
Since the 2021 Lotus Evora GT is still a car, chances are you’d like to drive it around town and on highways to commute. To this end, the Evora GT can struggle at times. Unlike many new sports cars, the Evora GT doesn’t offer adjustable suspension. On a twisty road, it’s sublime. On a normal road, it’s a bit of a different story. However, given this car’s ultimate purpose, a bouncy on-highway ride is a worthwhile trade-off.
The same goes for sound insulation. While you’ll be happy to hear its supercharged engine rev to the moon, it comes at the cost of wind and tire noise on the highway. Thankfully, the manual transmission remains easy to operate, even in Atlanta’s miserable traffic jams.
Despite the 2021 Lotus Evora GT’s price of $116,000, its interior has some cuts in noticeable corners. The main offender is the infotainment system, which is a touch-screen system by Alpine. While it does offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, it’s far from what you’d expect, given the price point.
Infotainment aside, I was pleasantly surprised with the rest of the 2021 Evora GT interior quality and finishing. The leather and suede bucket seats offered contrasting stitching in red and a comfortable fit. The same goes for the dashboard, adding more contrast stitching, perforated leather, and suede throughout. All things considered, it’s clear that the Evora GT prioritizes its excellent driving experience above all else.
Is The Evora GT Worth $116,000?
As mentioned earlier, the 2021 Lotus Evora GT doesn’t shine on paper. To truly appreciate this car, you need access to fun roads where it can let loose. While its on-road experience can be somewhat compromised daily, it all comes together to create a driving experience that is quite hard to come by in a brand-new car. Even with its six-figure price tag, the Evora GT is a no-brainer for me, easily surpassing the driving experience of vehicles costing twice as much.
As good as the Evora GT is, it is worth mentioning that Lotus is about to launch its next flagship model for the U.S. market, the Emira. With an improved interior and a stunning aesthetic, the Emira builds on Evora’s accomplishments while tackling its predecessor’s drawbacks. As a result, it’s worthwhile to keep a close eye on what Lotus is working on at the moment and beyond.