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Evora 400 Test Drive... Thoughts


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Not my pictures, but as I now have a (tentative) collection date and everything seems solid, I'd like to introduce to you all the conclusion to my search. Some changes have been made to the car s

I come from Jap rally replica background (JDM scoob & evos). I change cars every 18 months, but have owned a '06 Impreza Spec C Type RA for 10 years, which is an absolute keeper for weekend thrash

Car is still on temporary reg, should be changing over next week

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Most probably would be too small for a cart bag. If it's under roughly 45" long it will fit on the rear seat though:

d36b68e98f.jpg

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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Okay, the M4. As it happens, I was not interested in an M4 at all to begin with - having read the many reviews critiquing the less than friendly handling, and turbo'd engine. I saw this advert on eBay:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BMW-M4-AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-510bhp-PETROL-SEMIAUTOMATIC-2014-64-/252171412860?hash=item3ab696657c:g:YYYAAOSwoydWpmTu

Initially I ignored it, thinking it was a modded/chavved up example, but I then saw it was a proper Schnitzer car - and read a few reviews which praised it over the standard car. I also thought 510bhp sounded like fun. So I test drove it, then decided it was worth having for longer so the people at Rossiters were very kind and loaned me the car for the day.

Before I start my review proper, I cannot stress enough how great the guys at Rossiters were. Regardless of my opinion of the car, the guys were friendly, helpful, enthusiastic and easy to deal with. One of the best dealers I've ever dealt with. I feel very bad I won't be buying a car from them!

So, to begin with - looks. They are subjective, and to many this car won't appeal, but I was almost ready to open my wallet just from the first look. It looks mean. It's a great colour, which really sparkles in the sunlight, and with the carbon fibre addenda it looks so aggressive. It's lowered on huge wheels and really does look menacing. It would have huge passing rights on the Autobahn!

The main bits of the AC Schnitzer kit are a piggyback ECU upping power to 510 and torque to around 480lb-ft. From the standard 420-ish bhp and 400-ish torque. The extra power is only there if you want it. Interestingly, the AC Schnitzer mods do not void the car's warranty. More important than the extra power, the car has a passive damper setup replacing the regular electronically controlled items. I haven't driven the regular car, but this one handled brilliantly. Corners extremely flat, and clearly has massive grip. As a "fast road" setup, it was damn near perfect. Got a little unsettled on some really bumpy roads - but these were roads that were jarring in my van with 15" wheels and jelly for suspension.

Unfortunately, from there it's downhill. The car sounds really aggressive and angry at idle, which is good, and the "wow" factor of the car remains even though they've been out a while - a lot of heads were turned. The noise just doesn't improve though - right to the redline it sounds a bit like Gran Turismo. Just slightly faster noise. Compared to the ///M cars of old, the thing is massively disappointing on the sonic front. I know some BMWs can be quite tame with their stock exhaust (E92 M3 especially), but this thing had a loud aftermarket pipe and it didn't really do much. The odd pop and bang was nice- but other than that it was dull to listen to. The turbos are clearly robbing the engine of any nice noise. A massive down-tick.

The visibility out is not great. I've criticised the Lotus' seating position for feeling high, this one you sit nice and low but the car is so massive you can't see the ground around you - making the car extremely difficult to place. This doesn't feel like a replacement for my M3, it feels like a replacement for my six series.

If I had to pick a car to drive down to Germany or Spain with, it would be perfect - fast, comfortable and well equipped. But I don't need that, I want a sports car to enjoy my local lanes in.

The view I could adjust to, but unfortunately there was still one huge fly in the ointment.

The engine. It kills this car. I know everyone is going turbo and on paper, this engine is a mighty achievement. A lot of people have said the factory 425bhp is conservative, and I can believe them. This thing wanted to spin its wheels at 80, and I didn't have the piggyback ECU in play. It also wants to kick sideways when you shift up, because you get dropped back into the meat of the torque.

So you've got a car that revs to 7,500rpm (high for a turbo) and has a brilliant DCT box (not quite PDK, but much better than Merc's unit) - but it would probably be better in a four-speed manual. It's got so much torque you shift up early, but when conditions are sub-optimal, it just overloads the rears. The traction control light was on all the time. It was a great TC system - you could feel it letting the diff do some work before cutting in, but the fact was the car could have had 800bhp, it just couldn't handle the power it already had.

And the power delivery is not smooth. There's big turbo lag, and the power comes in one lump. On country roads it frustrates because you put your foot down and get nothing, then suddenly you get twice what you wanted. There's no in-between. One of the real great things about older M cars was you always knew exactly what you'd get when you put your foot down. Not so here.

Overall, I was really disappointed. I wanted to love the car, because it just looks epic. But I can't forgive the lack of sonic pleasure, and the unhinged engine. If this car had the old V8 in it, I'd have bought it there and then. As it is, it's a flawed thing. Which is a shame.

I can see myself owning one, one day - there's definitely a place for them - but the tight twisty lanes of suffolk it isn't. If I had a four car garage, it would be there, but I don't.

I still see it as a "successful failure" though, because the AC Schnitzer stuff worked really well. I don't always like the look of their stuff but it suited the M4 brilliantly. The car rode much better than anything on 20" wheels should. The Rossiters team were ace too, faultless. If ever they do an E92 conversion, I would give it a look in.

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James Martin (JayEmm)
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Great write-up!

It's always painful to not follow up great service with a purchase; even if that service would have continued throughout ownership, it is your car at the end of the day and you need to be 100% happy with it. Just like buying shoes, if they don't feel perfectly right during the test fit, don't count on them magically becoming more comfortable over time.

I've been in a huge dilemma. The Evora 400 is a great car and if I was new to Lotus, I'd probably buy one over an AMG GT-S. However I already own an Evora S and the 400 is a very incremental step, which is why I'm seriously contemplating spending double the changeover to get the GT-S instead. Hard decision because my Lotus dealer is a race team who organises private Lotus-only trackdays and plays pitcrew (tyres, fuel etc) for us. On top of that the Evora is just a great track car, you can lap endlessly all day and not worry about brake fade, overheating, bits rattling loose etc.

With the GT-S I would probably get zero dealer support after the purchase, the car will probably have brake fade if I don't cool down every 3rd lap, and the risk (and cost) of an off is far higher. However I am only on track 1% of the year, and for the other 99% I think I would rather put my bum in the Merc.

The Lotus dealer is giving me a generous discount if I commit to a 400 upgrade by the end of today (monthly quota etc) but I'm not one to get rushed into such a big decision.

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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Merc doesn't need your new car purchase, Lotus on the other hand does! :thumbsup:

I can totally see though where going for the GT-S is more of a 'new car' experience then getting a newer Evora since you are coming out of one.  1st world problems my friend...

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18 minutes ago, 99Problems said:

Merc doesn't need your new car purchase, Lotus on the other hand does! :thumbsup:

I can totally see though where going for the GT-S is more of a 'new car' experience then getting a newer Evora since you are coming out of one.  1st world problems my friend...

I sensed that in my conversations with both dealers; the Merc dealer never felt like he was rushing me, whereas the Lotus dealer sounded a bit more desperate. Money spent on the Lotus goes to the dealer and to Lotus-only trackdays etc, money spent on the Merc goes...??

8 minutes ago, Ccd said:

The Merc is about 500 lbs heavier than the Lotus and is only available with an auto.  That's 2 strikes against it in my book.

The GTS feels very light and nimble, no heavier than the Evora albeit only on my short test drive.

The 400's IPS box is amazing both on track and on street. I've had the pleasure of being driven around a race track in a 400 IPS by an ex-F1 driver, the gearbox is near perfection. I'd rate it as good as the McLaren gearboxes. On street, it's smoother than my BMW 4-series' ZF 8-speed!

That said, if your criteria is for a light manual car, then that's what you have to choose for yourself :)

3 minutes ago, BWex said:

And it's a Merc. Strike three. 

I currently own a Lotus because I decided to ignore brand stereotypes... so I took the same approach with the GTS. It was the first Mercedes I'd ever driven, and it was bloody fantastic.

Edited by chylld

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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My TT RS is 3300 lbs and a manual.  Anything that replaces it will be a manual and lighter than my car.    The GT S need not apply

Edited by Ccd
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I used to do work with an automotive supplier. They sold the same part to ford and mercedes and charged 3x more for the mercedes part.  

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48 minutes ago, Ccd said:

My TT RS is 3300 lbs and a manual.  Anything that replaces it will be a manual and lighter than my car.    The GT S need not apply

Cayman GT4? 3120 lbs, manual. If they're a bit hard to find, wait a bit until the PDK version comes out and some manual owners might swap over.

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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I've been looking at other cars that on paper should utterly trounce the Evora - R8 V10, for example, but I find myself coming up against a dilemma. The Lotus is the car I want - my only real concern is the depreciation I'm going to suffer. I shouldn't buy a new car, every instinct in me tells me not to, but Lotus is about the only company I feel like making an exception for - like they genuinely appreciate my business. I'll know very soon what I am doing, I'm waiting on funds to clear which is being a painful process - until then I can only keep mulling over my decision.

My experience with Lotus dealers here has been mixed - some have been superb, others middling and some quite frustrating.

James Martin (JayEmm)
Director of Photography & Car Enthusiast

Follow my Lotus adventure online! www.jayemm.com

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Oh, I don't know if the GT-S shares the same gearbox as the Merc A45 (I doubt it does) but the 45's twin clutch box is the worst twin clutch I have ever driven. Pretty useless in manual mode.

James Martin (JayEmm)
Director of Photography & Car Enthusiast

Follow my Lotus adventure online! www.jayemm.com

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6 minutes ago, JayEmm said:

I've been looking at other cars that on paper should utterly trounce the Evora - R8 V10, for example, but I find myself coming up against a dilemma. The Lotus is the car I want - my only real concern is the depreciation I'm going to suffer. I shouldn't buy a new car, every instinct in me tells me not to, but Lotus is about the only company I feel like making an exception for - like they genuinely appreciate my business.

Also a factor in my decision. Depreciation on new cars can be pretty harsh for non-limited models, but it's best to just calculate it out (for say the first 3 years of ownership) for all options you're considering. You should be able to find used car price guides that will give you historical info that you can reduce to an average % initial hit and % depreciation per year. This makes it easier to compare new cars vs cheap cars.

In the case of the Evora 400 and R8 V10 (and 12C, to provide a used example), I gleaned the following numbers:

New Evora 400 initial hit: 25%, per year: 7.55%
New Audi R8 V10 initial hit: 24%, per year: 11.68%
Used McLaren 12C initial hit: 0%, per year: 10.76%

Therefore the 3yr hit (in Aussie dollars) for the 3 cars were:

Evora 400: $86k
Audi R8 V10: $174k
McLaren 12C: $87k

Then all that's left is to use this as the "cost base" against which the merits of each car would be weighted. I know this is basic maths that might sound trivial to you, but reducing the largest cost (depreciation) to a single number helped me focus better on which car I actually liked driving the most, as well as ruling out those (e.g. new R8) that simply cost way too much to own at this point in time.

For laughs, here's my main car shopping worksheet at 25%

e0f4dce433.png

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2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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I forgot to mention that I committed to a new Evora 400 today :) The AMG GT-S was extremely tempting as the initial depreciation is less harsh thanks to demand exceeding supply at the moment. As soon as this corrects, however, the numbers naturally fall back in favour of the Lotus. In terms of the driving experience, it was tit-for-tat

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2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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:thumbsup:

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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Top marks for showing your workings!

The R8s I have been looking at compared to the Evora are all older ones. Several reasons - 1. I can only afford a used one, 2. I want a manual, 3. I don't think the new ones look different enough!

So my only wonder is I could have an R8 for a bit,  have fun with it, and sell on with only a minor hit - while the brand new 400s take their most vicious hit of depreciation (the first year's) and then level out. I imagine like some Astons they'll just plateau. The V8 Vantage here, for example, seems almost unable to dip under £30K, but they get there fast.

Congrats on going with the Evora.

James Martin (JayEmm)
Director of Photography & Car Enthusiast

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Good observation with the Astons, I noticed the same thing here too in Australia.

Test drive everything you can afford and don't ignore your gut feel. A spreadsheet will get you in the ballpark, but it will not make the decision for you!

Incidentally my 400 order is the first in Australia. I wasn't aiming for that, I just happened to be shopping for an upgrade around the time the 400 came out. In fact I distinctly remember attending the local Evora 400 launch event (along with 50+ other people) and thinking "hah, I haven't driven it but I'm shopping for an upgrade, not an update" but it just so happened that after I put my bum in the seat of almost every car this side of a 650S, it was the best. (with my Evora SR being a distant 9th)

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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My budget doesn't stretch quite into McLaren territory, but I have to say the SOUND of a supercar (or sports car) is very important to me, one reason I've not bought the M4 I drove recently. The McLarens do sound quite nice in the flesh, but I think the Evora 400 is one of the best sounding cars on sale today. It's properly rude.

I'd love to test drive a McLaren some time. After driving the M4 and concluding it couldn't get 400lb-ft onto the road easily, I wonder how a McLaren gets on with a whole heap more.

James Martin (JayEmm)
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James, if you are overly concerned about depreciation then this type of purchase should suit.

 Maybe not the actual car but shows that a 2k mile example can be had for £67k (or perhaps less with a bit of haggling)

http://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/lotus/evora/lotus-evora-evora-400/5468446?v=b

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I wouldn't class myself as being "overly" concerned, simply "aware". As it happens I'm in touch with JCT already, among others :)

That being said, what could offset depreciation is if something were to go wrong with, for example, an R8, it would be a bugger to fix. I'm quite interested in Astons but as far as I can tell they're less reliable than Lotus, by some margin!

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James Martin (JayEmm)
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Loving the spreadsheet maths !   

I've got a spreadsheet for everything, although i'll be honest when it came to buying the evora the "want one" was so massive i didn't really care what the spreadhsset said. :D

I get the depreciation concerns JayEmm but as others hvae said, when you compare new with new the evora should fair quite well.    If it were me i'd be looking at an SR or a brand new 400........the nearly new 400 doesn't offer a significant enough saving to warrant not being able to spec every element of the car.   Move to a year / two year old car and that's less of an issue due to the savings.  Just a personal thing though.  

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1 hour ago, JayEmm said:

My experience with Lotus dealers here has been mixed - some have been superb, others middling and some quite frustrating.

I'd imagine they've all read this thread and in the nicest possible way, think you're wasting their time. You'd do well to pick one dealer and go through the process with that one. They all talk, so they'll know you're doing the rounds and treat you accordingly. Remember they are in the business of selling cars, so want to sell you one, not offer you a pre-sales experience which you've clearly had elsewhere and the 400 is selling well so they'll concentrate their time and efforts on people willing to fill out an order form. 

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88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

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44 minutes ago, JayEmm said:

I'd love to test drive a McLaren some time. After driving the M4 and concluding it couldn't get 400lb-ft onto the road easily, I wonder how a McLaren gets on with a whole heap more.

Do whatever you need to do to get a test drive in a McLaren. It will give you... ummm, "perspective"

The first time I went full throttle in a McLaren (650S) my vision blurred warp speed style, I yelled some expletives and my very next thought was "I hope the brakes work really well" followed by "all I can see in the rear veiw mirror is my own airbrake!"

Forget the M4, proper supercars will give you a sensation so unforgettable that you'll quickly discard any doubts about transferring power to the road 

Edited by chylld

2016 Evora 400 | Signature Silver on Red Alcantara

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