If it’s a British B-road basher you’re after, a secondhand Evora will do the business. Here’s what to look for
Got £30k to blow on a brilliant secondhand sports car? Lucky you. A Lotus Evora is a left-field choice, but it’s also a brilliant one. Powered by a bulletproof Toyota V6 engine, this shapely Norfolk-built coupé will deliver a 0-62mph time of either 5.5 seconds or 4.6 seconds, track-honed handling, pin-sharp steering, a remarkably plush ride and pleasingly low running costs. On top of which it has two more seats than a Porsche Cayman.
The Evora has been on sale for eight years now, but no major reliability issues have popped up in that time. The engine, either normally aspirated or in Eaton-supercharged S guise, has a strong reputation. It’s a mid-mounted Toyota 3.5-litre V6 producing 276bhp and 258lb/ft, or 345bhp and 295lb/ft in the supercharged S, driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.
Some early Evoras had loose gearbox cables and flappy door handles, but both those problems will have been sorted under warranty on used cars. Hard-used examples may show a little tattiness in the cabins, and you may hear a degree of knocking from the front anti-roll bar bushes, but other than that there isn’t much bad stuff to report.
The three-piece composite body has easily replaceable plastic bumpers. Although Evoras are nominally in 2+2 configuration, the ‘+2’ ideally being children, some cars were ordered with an extended parcel shelf in place of the back seats and a boot that would hold a set of golf clubs.
Why play golf, though, when you can play with an Evora blessed by double-wishbone suspension, Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers, AP Racing brakes and Pirelli P Zeros (18-inch up front, 19-inch at the rear)?
Early Evoras had a Launch Pack made up of three sub-packs: Tech (sat-nav, parking aids, cruise control), Sport (cross-drilled discs, deeper spoiler, uprated exhaust) and Premium elements (more leather, heated seats, reversing camera). You could order all the bits – including a close-ratio Sport gearbox – piecemeal too. The S model had a standard Sport Pack and Sport gearbox.
The Toyota-sourced six-speed IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) automatic transmission docks a little performance and efficiency, but is more reliable than the sometimes troublesome slack-cabled manual. A 2012 Evora refresh addressed this issue, adding a low-friction flywheel and gear selector cables. Lotus spruced up the cabin by making the Premium Pack standard, improving the door locks, and enhancing the sound insulation. There was also a new infotainment system. Regular Evoras inherited the thicker rear anti-roll bar and stiffer wishbone bushes of the S and gained a more engaging exhaust note.
For an expert view on the Evora, we spoke to Jamie Matthews of Bell & Colvill. He describes it as a car for those “looking for a performance car that’s a little bit different.”
“Buyers are enthusiasts who are shrewd and knowledgeable,” he says. “Some may be looking at a Cayman too, but the Evora out-rides and out-handles it while being that bit more practical. The Lotus is much rarer, too.
“When looking at a used one, check the clutch for any slip and a heavy pedal, and listen for a louder-than-usual chattering sound at idle. A new clutch can cost you £3,000 but they can last up to 40,000 miles.”
Worn tyre edges could indicate crash history. Interrogate the ECU for any record of over-revving and check the exhaust mounts for soundness. Aftermarket exhausts from firms like 2bular are popular at prices starting from £818.
An aircon condenser with a red dot on it means that it’s a warranty replacement. The aircon isn’t brilliant even when it’s working. Make sure that there are no leaks into the cabin.
Which Evora would Jamie go for, given a choice? “A 2011-model-year S for around £35,000.”
£29,000-£33,495: early 2009-2010 VVT-i with full history and under 30k miles
£33,500-£38,495: 2011-2013 VVT-i cars, the odd early S
£39,000-£43,500: VVT-i cars after 2012, more S cars