Lotus is not Ferrari. It’s not McLaren. And it’s not Porsche. What it has in common with those companies is that it manufactures cars. Barely. Despite the well-faded glory of seven Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championships, Lotus’s struggles with solvency today are real. In the last decade it has seen three CEOs, the creation and collapse of a plan for five redesigned models, and the full-year delay of the most promising car it offers to the biggest sports-car market on earth, the United States. But we’ve finally driven that car—the new-to-the-U.S. Evora 400 —and it was good.
Lotus is known for its minimalist cars, so the Evora—with room for two 6’5” adults, air conditioning, and even—gasp!—an optional automatic transmission—is a major break with tradition. If the concept of the Evora would make Colin Chapman roll over in his grave, so too would the first-generation car’s handling, but a new and greatly improved Evora is on its way to the U.S. for 2017.