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2012 Lotus Evora IPS: An Automatic Lotus, Say It Ain't So!

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On: Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 1:01PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Lotus Evora IPS:  An Automatic Lotus, Say It Ain't So!

Taking a quick look at the latest Evora coming off the Lotus production line, it looks a lot like the 2011 version—visceral, unique, and gorgeous. No complaints there, right? Right. But then go in a little closer and you might be in for a bit of a bump on the head. Once you come to and lift yourself off the pavement, you'll realize that what you saw was, in fact, reality: controls for an automatic transmission inside a Lotus. Yup, that's right, thanks to you, America (and some of Asia) Lotus has decided to put an automatic transmission in their little hot rod.

Already powered by the Toyota Camry's DOHC 3.5-liter V6 producing 276-horsepower and 258-lb-ft of torque, Lotus has chosen the matching transmission from the Toyota parts bin. Now, while a Camry-style six-speed automatic may sound like heresy to some in a $68,000 canyon carver, it should be noted that Lotus did, in fact, tweak the tranny before bolting it up to their sports car. A torque converter that locks up at 20 mph and above to make shifts quicker and more firm than your garden-variety Camry. Lotus promises quick shifts, especially if you hit the Sport button which will make the transmission stay in gear longer, speedier shifts, and faster downshifts to get you through the twisties just a bit faster.

Thankfully, the slush box adds only a bit of heft to the svelte Lotus to the tune of 150 pounds, putting the total weight of the Evora IPS at just about 3200 pounds even. That weight combined with arguably less performance ability than a traditional stick shift equates to an acceleration demerit for the IPS. Sure, the auto-Evora (or Evora-auto?) trails the manual by only the slimmest of margins (5.2 vs. 4.9 seconds), but then that lag could cost you a pink slip in some circles. The biggest kicker, however, is that aside from the weight and performance knocks, opting for the auto will also cost you an additional $2950 out of pocket. The cost of convenience, perhaps?

For good and ill, Lotus has announced that the automatic will eventually be available on the more potent supercharged Evora S sometime in the near future. Good, because the additional revenue will hopefully help fund better and faster Lotus models in the future. Ill, because, well, at least one writer seems to think that having not had an automatic in a Lotus for the past twenty-plus years has been a very good thing. It seems that someone who likes a Lotus, but doesn't like the fact that it comes with a manual transmission, actually doesn't like a Lotus. That's like saying you like watching football, except you don't like when teams pass the ball—that means you actually like rugby, but just haven't been exposed to it yet. For the people that actually say they want an auto-Lotus, perhaps they should look into a Porsche 911, Chevy Corvette, or even a Hyundai Genesis coupe. Anything that already has a substantial number of automatic buyers seems like a better option than strong-arming Lotus into watering down one of its purebreds.

But then, this economy is about survival and if you don't adapt, then you are severely limiting your chances for success. With that in mind, can we fault Lotus for selling out a bit here? No, not really. Can we fault drivers for being a bit lazy and whining until they got what they wanted? Absolutely. So, although we are never bummed to see a new Lotus debut on the scene, the Evora IPS has left us a bit more conflicted than usual. We're really not crazy about the auto, but we will be willing to let the IPS have its moment in the sun, as well as its potential drivers because it we start whining about people that whined, well that would make us whiners too—automatically.

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