September 2, 2014

Lotus Evora Long Term Test – Intelligent Precision Shift

After 3 months of supercharged goodness the next quarter year will be spent in an automatic Evora. Yes, an automatic. I know, I thought the same too as I’ve never been much of a fan of automatic gearboxes and the Evora IPS uses a torque converter, often referred to as a slush box as the clutch is replaced by a hydrodynamic fluid coupling attached to a planetary gearbox. If you want to know how a torque converter works, check out this website. The alternative, as is seen on the upcoming Elise SPS is a automated manual gearbox, these are now available in single and double clutch flavours and are what you would expect from the name, a manual which changes gear without you needing to move a stick or operate the clutch pedal, double clutch ones being able to pre-select the next gear for you for a quicker change with one clutch dealing with even numbered gears and the other on the odd numbered gears.

What’s clever about the IPS? The software Lotus use on the Evora checks a number of parameters constantly and analyses what you’re trying to achieve with the car so it can select the best gear, the best shift point/speed and indeed if it’s a bad time to change. It checks lateral acceleration (the car won’t change gear if you’re pulling more than 0.6g laterally!) throttle position, steering angle and adjusts the shifting points and even the shifting speed depending on what you’re up to. Clever stuff. What this means in real terms is that if you’re pressing on, the car is with you and keeps you in the power delivery area of the RPM range and blips up nicely through the gears even when not in ‘Sport’ mode or if you’re hardly on the throttle and minimal steering inputs, eg cruising along munching miles, it’ll shift early and keep the RPM below 2k when it can. This has shown up both in terms of the excitement driving the car and also in the MPG which is vastly improved over the supercharged seeing 35 MPG on a run and around 20 MPG with town driving, almost 50% more mileage than the ‘S’!

What you really want to be doing though is warming the car up then turning on ‘Sport’ mode. As per the manual Evora, Sport relaxes the DPM system to give you more flexibility over the control of the car but on the IPS it moves the shift points of the gears, allows for more aggressive auto-downshifting and also introduces a lovely, and I mean lovely auto-blip on the downshift into 3rd and 2nd, making you feel like a heel-toe master every time you slow down! The car pulls incredibly well in Sport and feels very fast to the driver, gear-shifts are accompanied by what is almost a pop from the stage II exhaust this car is fitted with, reminiscent of proper motorsport gear changes. The up-shifts are blisteringly quick too, almost seamless in fact and change at just below peak RPM with the shift lights on the rev counter making an appearance.

Taking the control of the car a step further it’s also fitted with paddles fixed behind the wheel, + on the right and – on the left. You can use these with your hands anywhere from 9-3 to 10-2 and they move with the wheel making mid corner shifting possible. Pull them both for 10 seconds to select neutral although I’m not sure why you’d need this? Having never driven a paddle shift before I enjoy the keeping of your hands on the wheel, this is novel and I can see where it would be useful on track driving although it does takes some acclimatisation to learn when to pull the lever as it’s not an instant response, you need to be pulling the level about the same time you’d be dipping the clutch on a manual by my reckoning. It’s worth noting that when in Sport, the car will only automatically select a gear when you come to a stop, it will put you in 1st but when not in Sport, the car will take over control of the ‘box if you don’t pull a paddle in 30 seconds, reverting to fully automatic again.

I can now see the appeal of the auto box, I can see the appeal of paddles too and Lotus have done a decent job with the IPS. The 2012 S IPS is again leaps forward on this car with obviously more power and a higher red line but the software for each is being constantly revised by the factory and updated are flashed onto the gearbox ECU at service time. The improved MPG comes from lower ratio 5th & 6th gears and this also makes the car an eminent GT, able to cruise on the motorway with very little effort with 70mph being just over 2k on the rev counter. This means that this car is being used for almost every journey we need to make, it’s fun and economical enough to justify full time use even for short journeys.

The grey suits the car well, this being the most sombre coloured Evora I’ve had to test to date, classically classy but the Paprika interior is showing some wear on the drivers seat. This is a press car so it’s been used by many people in it’s short life so far, lots of jumping in & out so this may be premature wear but all the same I understand it’s not the first time these Recaro seats have suffered this way. Also, on a particularly cold and wet morning heading up to Autosport International the car selected 3rd while accelerating and didn’t want to change, resulting in a MIL light. I stopped on the side of the road and restarted the car which cleared the problem and put itself back into 1st and the MIL light stopped illuminating by the end of the day (I believe it takes 10 cycles of the ignition to clear if the fault is no longer present). Other than that, and trying to grab the non-existent gear stick for the first 2 weeks it’s been fun so far, I’m looking forward to putting more miles on the IPS.

Configuration Evora IPS 2+2 £51,100
IPS Gearbox £1,800
Wheels Gloss Anthracite Forged (18/19) £1,900
Exterior Equipment Bi-Xenon Headlights £620
Power fold mirrors £340
Lifestyle paint £1,100
Body coloured door handles £340
Entertainment Alpine Sat Nav £520
Packs Tech Pack £2,700
Premium Pack (inc heated seats) £1,800
Sport Pack (IPS) £2,570

TOTAL £63,330
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Comments

  1. Which grey is that?

  2. Thanks – wondered if it might be the Amethyst grey.   


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