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2008 Cayman S vs. 2011 Lotus Evora

I recently had an opportunity to drive my friend’s 2011 base Evora with 4,100 miles and compare it to my 2008 Cayman S with 33,000. His car has had some modifications including a cold air intake and oil catch cans. My car is stock with PASM and Sport settings, standard exhaust, and no performance mods. Both cars are manuals. We switched cars and did a lead follow on the back roads of NC for about 30 minutes in each car on some relatively curvy roads. I had a chance to drive in a “spirited” manner, but not being my own car, did not want to approach any limits (in both cases the cars limits are far beyond mine which shouldn’t be explored on the street anyways.)

Before I start, let me say that I really have loved my Cayman. It has been a fabulous car and I have no regrets purchasing it. It is my first "sport's car", but I've had the opportunity to drive a few other high end sports cars and exotics.

Styling
Styling is obviously a subjective quality. I think both cars look good in their own right. The Evora is a little more angular and the Cayman has smoother lines. My mother in law and wife both like the Cayman styling more, however neither like the more aggressive styling feature of cars like Lamborghini.

The Evora definitely gets more looks (fyi my Cayman is meteor gray, his Evora is white). With the cars following each other closely, we drove past several groups of kids and they were clearly pointing at the Evora. Interestingly, my friend also has a Ferrari 308 and says that the Evora gets more looks than the Ferrari. This may or may not be desirable depending on the individual.

Build Quality
I have had no issues with the Cayman in the year and half I have owned it. My friend has had his Lotus for a little over 4 months. One morning he literally pulled off his door handle. His dash is also starting to separate. Obviously, this is a small sample size, but Lotus has never been renowned for durability. It should be said that with the Evora, they have supposedly taken great strides in improving it, however I still think they have some more ground to make up.

Interior
Both cars interiors are nice. My car has a standard trim w/o the additional leather package. I find them about the same space wise and cabin feel. Entry and exit are comparable with a nod to the Cayman. The Evora is light years ahead of trying to get into and out of the various Elises and Exiges I have been in. The Lotus has a 2 + 2 configuration, but the backseats are impractical for anything more than storage, even more so than a 911. Ingress and egress would be a nightmare and there is no leg room. The leather dash in the Evora was nice, but could be a Cayman option.

I have standard seats versus bucket seats in the Lotus. I find both seats comfortable (6’2”, 188 lbs). The buckets were more supportive in turns as expected. In both cars, I have a few inches of head room clearance.

The dashboard layout of the Evora seemed a little more modern to me compared to the Porsche. I don't know how this will compare to the new 981.

The Cayman is a little louder inside than the Evora. I was actually quite surprised how quiet the Evora was. I personally would actually appreciate a little more sound from the engine, but it was easy to carry on a conversation with my passenger even at full throttle. The loudest noise was from the cold air intakes which reminded me of wastegates on a turbo.

For what it’s worth, the Cayman has more trunk space if that is important to you. I can take it the grocery store without any problems. My friend uses his Evora for his daily driver, but he has several additional cars at his disposal if he needs more room.

Handling/Steering
Both cars have excellent and precise steering. It is easy with both cars to pick a point on the road and hit it without any difficulty. It seems that you think it and the cars do it in a telepathic like manner. The Cayman steering is a little bit heavier than the Lotus. I found the Evora steering to be heavier than my other friend's Exige 260 that I recently drove which felt very light, but also very communicative. I feel like both the Cayman and the Lotus transmit a ton of information through the steering wheel. I’m used to the Cayman steering, so the lotus steering felt a little light to me, but had very good communication of the road surface, actually probably just a little bit better than the Cayman to be truthful. Steering is something that Lotus has always been well known for. You can’t go wrong with either car in this department though as both are really excellent imo.

Both cars have little body roll. The Cayman has more understeer dialed in than the Evora. The backend is easier to get out in the Evora. I felt more confident pushing my Cayman more than I did his Evora, but this is probably in part due to my familiarity with the car rather than the car itself. In a lead follow scenario, they seem evenly matched.

My friend had the Evora at VIR during a Ferrari track weekend and it/he performed very well with him passing a number of cars that would be considered "superior" esp. from a power standpoint including some newer ferrari's, 911's, and a gallardo, some of which could be driver dependant. (He does has experience in the spec ariel atom race series and numerous trackdays)

Ride quality in both cars seemed good to me. I don’t really complain about stiff suspension (minus the McLaren SLR) and don’t feel as if either car is overly stiff or light for that matter. My friend commented that he thought that the Porsche rode better and he thought that he would rather take a long trip in it versus the Evora. He did not have PASM engaged as I later learned (I have 19” tires).

I like the shifter in the Cayman more. It has more positive engagement . In the Lotus, I felt like I was shifting and hoping I was in the right gear and had actually fully engaged the gear compared to the more assuring shift in the Cayman.

Brakes
The Lotus brakes are better. My friend made the same comment when we were done driving. Initial bite occurs earlier with the lotus. The brakes are easy to modulate with less pedal travel. In all fairness, I am getting to the point of needing new pads (I currently have factory pads on the car). This is not to say that the brakes on the Cayman are bad (they are quite good and I have to constantly reset my framework in my daily driver lest I rear end someone), but the Lotus brakes have more feel and stop better. During a more aggressive stop, my friend commented that the tail lights in the Lotus were approaching faster than he felt comfortable when he was driving the following Cayman. I’m not sure how that corresponds to published stopping distances, but subjectively, the Lotus felt better. No very hard or panic stops were done.

Power
The Cayman feels like it has slightly more power to me, although they are very close. Factory numbers with the Cayman are 295 HP, 251 TQ and the Evora 276 HP, 258 TQ. (not sure with the cold air intake, neither car has been dyno’d). Subjectively, I feel like the Cayman gives me a little more push in the back full throttle esp. in third. My father in law made the same comment. People have always criticized the Cayman for its lack of power for the price range especially considering other cars like mustangs and corvettes develop significantly more HP for the price. That being said both the Evora and the Cayman can get you into go to jail speeds at a pretty good clip. I think that handling finesse is really where both shine versus brute force.

Overall
When we got done driving, I got out and told my friend that I thought the Lotus was a pretty awesome car and that I really liked it. He said that he was just getting ready to tell me the exact same thing. He even made a comment that it made him want to look into Porsche products in the future. In the end, both cars really are great and seem to serve the purpose of a sports car very well. I honestly don’t know which one I would pick if it came down to performance and styling, but I think given the Porsche reliability I’d still make the same choice. I think that if one is in the market for a sports car that Lotus has developed a fabulous vehicle that is definitely worth looking at and trying out. Great to see both manufactures develop wonderful cars. Hope this is helpful.
 

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I was making the same choice. Im a huge Lotus and Porsche fan. Prior to the CS, i had a 996 C4S. I choose the CS over the Evora due to build quality and reliability. I had 71k miles on my 996 C4S when i sold it and it was the most reliable car i've ever owned.

I tried to love the Evora but the shifter was horrible (why can't they make a good shifter in any of their cars) and the interior just seemed low rent. The dsh separating is a common problem. Dealer network is horrible too. Where would i get my Evora serviced.

I would love to own an Elise or EXige S (my favorite car i've ever driven) but too impractical to put enough miles on it. I dont want a garage queen.

Seems like Lotus has stepped up their game for 2012. Sat in a new Evora S at the auto show and the option full leather interior ws really nice.

I do see an Evora S in my future but i will wait until the build quality improves.

Im glad i choose the CS
 

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Thank you for the great writeup. Great comparison.
 

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Sounds like a fun wayt o spend an afternoon. I'm in NC too. Hit me up for a cruise some time. I'm always down to take a drive.
 

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Thanks for the writeup. Being the owner of a 2008 Cayman S that is basically your twin (color, PASM, chrono, etc) made for an especially interesting comparison.

I had a short test drive of the Evora when they first appear about 3 years ago and remember the shifter being a bit vague. I had to be very deliberate in locating the gears. I haven't see any of them on the road here in the NY metro area since then.
 

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Thank you for a great and unbiased evaluation. With all the positive press about the Evora's handling, I've had a hankering to drive one. This is as close as I can get, as the nearest dealers are not close. That, plus the question of build quality, color any decision to buy one.
 

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Sounds like a fun wayt o spend an afternoon. I'm in NC too. Hit me up for a cruise some time. I'm always down to take a drive.
Where in NC are you guys? I am near Cashiers - some great mountain roads around here. Love to make a run with one (or both) of you when my 981 comes in.

Cheers,

mike
 

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Great review, only reason I went for the CS was the warranty and reliability. Lotus has never been known for there reliability and more for pushing the edge to the next best thing. Thanks for the info.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad to hear that some others had some of the same impression about the Evora as me.

Good thing about having a rarer car....not many other people have them, so they are unique and interesting.

Bad things about having a rarer car....limited dealer network.

My friend is currently strongly contemplating selling his car as he is moving to Richmond at the end of the week. Richmond's lotus dealer closed down. Now there is nowhere close to service the car should something happen and he doesn't want to have to ship it several hours to a dealer should somthing go wrong esp. giving it is his daily driver. He's also nervous about warranty issues.

The larger Porsche network is a definite plus.

For those in NC, I live in Winston Salem and would love to get together for a drive sometime.
 

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In terms of real world use, there is NO comparison between these cars.

1) Build quality-Porsche wins hands down

2) Quality of layout/control-Porsche wins hands down again

3) Storage-the trunk in the Evora is a joke

4) Ease of ingress/egress-Porsche wins again

5) Reliability- its a Lotus, need I say more???

6) Dealer network- very sparse for Lotus

If you strictly purchase your car for handling/performance and NOTHING else, then the cars are comparable. If you use your car in the real world for every day matters, the Cayman would put a smile on your face and the Lotus would constantly frustrate you.
 
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