Lotus Evora IPS driven

* New automatic gearbox for the Evora * Lotus's first automatic for 20 years * An £1800 option...

Lotus Evora IPS driven

What is it?

It's Lotus's first automatic car in more than 20 years.

The Intelligent Shift Pattern (IPS) gearbox is an £1800 option on the standard Evora it's not available on the S model and Lotus reckons around one in five UK buyers will choose it.

While many modern sports cars have super-fast twin-clutch gearboxes, the Evora has a more conventional torque-converter 'box pinched from a Lexus RX.

That might not sound like the perfect match for a high-performance car such as the Evora, but the gearbox has been thoroughly reworked by the wizards at Lotus to give it much sportier characteristics.

What's it like to drive?

There's no gearlever, instead you engage 'drive' by pressing a button on the centre console. In normal mode the gearbox has one eye on fuel economy, so it changes up early unless you're using the lower reaches of the accelerator pedal.

Tug one of the paddles behind the steering wheel and the 'box switches to manual mode, which gives you a certain level of control over shifts.

However, the car still changes up automatically if you allow the revs to rise too high, and if you don't use the paddles to change gear for 10 seconds. the 'box reverts to fully automatic mode.

Press the 'sport' button on the centre console and things get a bit more interesting. The gearbox takes all focus off fuel economy and concentrates solely on performance, holding each gear longer before changing up. The engine becomes more responsive, too.

If you change gear manually in 'sport' mode by using the wheel-mounted paddles, and the difference now is that you can take the revs all the way to the limiter. The gearbox won't revert back to fully automatic mode unless you go 30 seconds without using the paddles, which Lotus says won't happen during spirited driving.

Stand on the throttle and the pickup is surprisingly rapid. The upshifts aren't at all slushy, which is often a feature of torque-converter gearboxes in more run-of-the-mill cars. In fact they're surprisingly quick even though the 0-62mph time is officially 0.4 seconds slower than the manual car's at 5.3 seconds.

Downchanges aren't so impressive. Brake for a corner and the Evora's throttle blips automatically to match the revs of the gear below, but then there's often a lengthy pause before the lower gear engages.

This can be very frustrating, because you naturally compensate for the lack of engine braking by stomping harder on the brake pedal. So, when the 'box does finally engage the lower gear, you sometimes find yourself braking too hard.

That's assuming you aren't already through the corner waiting for a gear to get you going again.

Should you buy one?

It's hard to make a case for the automatic Evora. The Lotus's biggest appeal is the way it drives, and the IPS gearbox simply isn't a match for the car's phenomenal steering, superb grip and wonderfully balanced chassis.

While it's true that the Evora's manual box has always been one of the car's biggest weaknesses, it does at least give you complete control over gearchanges. The IPS box doesn't.

Fuel consumption is also slightly worse than the manual car's at 32.1mpg, and worse CO2 emissions mean the Evora IPS creeps into a higher tax band.

So, although we're huge Evora fans, we reckon the Porsche Cayman S PDK is a better bet if you want an automatic sports car.

What Car? says