A month ago I met a man who, next spring, will become one of the first owners of the new Lotus Evora. He was a textbook illustration of the reason why driver's cars like this sell so well in Britain.
He was old and wise enough to have matured beyond such excitements, yet still buzzing with furtive enthusiasm about his purchase; very well informed about what he was getting, and still eager to find out as much more as he could. He was all too aware about the trials and tribulations that ownership of a British sports car can bring, but confident that things would be different this time around. Which meant that he was a joy to talk to.
There must be thousands like him up and down the country, many of whom will have already ordered an Evora, and many more of whom will go on to. So it's great to be able to report that – having become the first journalist in the world to have ridden in the car last week – they will be taking delivery of what I can only describe as a very promising package.
I should couch what I'm about to say with the caveat that I only sampled the car from the passenger seat. I have no idea, therefore, about what the steering feels like, or whether the pedal positioning, brake feel or throttle response is quite up to scratch. So don't consider this any kind of a verdict; that will come in March, when we drive the car.
Driven by development engineer Matt Becker, the Evora flew around Hethel's handling circuit with what looked like accuracy, 'chuckability' and an almost unbelievable resistance to understeer. Neither did it oversteer excessively. Except on the occasion when it was provoked by its driver in order to demonstrate that, thanks to some roomier wheelarches than you'll find on an Elise or Exige, there's enough steering angle on an Evora to drift it without fear of a spin.
Out on the road the car gripped hard, rode comfortably and with composure, overtook slower traffic with the authority of a much more powerful car, and put Cheshire cat smiles on the faces of both its driver and passenger.
It's got an aura of real polish and completeness, this car. You'll find it much easier to get in and out of than smaller Hethel models – not quite foolproof, but then it is a Lotus. And yes, those rear seats are usable; just as usable as the ones you'll find in a Porsche 911.
If you're less than five feet eight inches tall, and sitting behind someone who doesn't require all the legroom available to him, you could happily travel back there for an hour or so. Is it a proper four-seater? Hell no. But then it was never supposed to be.
So if I was lucky enough to be among the few with £45,000 to spend on the first new Lotus in 12 years, I'd be feeling rather impressed about the job Lotus has done on my little May arrival.
As it is, all I can hope is that the editor picks me to write the Lotus Evora vs Porsche Cayman S vs Artega GT triple test come the spring. I suspect it'll be a very tough one to judge.
And if I don't get that particular job, I'm now in the perfect position to run a book on the outcome. Feel free to press the comment button below if you fancy a flutter. The odds won't be great, though, if you want to bet on a home win.
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