A trip to explore the winding lanes around Scotland's Loch Lomond with a new Lotus sounded idyllic enough. We were so not complaining. But was it just us, or did the press introduction for Lotus's new two-plus-two, the Evora, seem a wee bit obvious? You know, curvaceous Scottish roads, new Lotus, end of story we've heard before. Add single malt, repeat.
It hardly sounded fair. How could any Lotus - much less the latest one, a machine meant to distill all sixty-one years of the company's roadholding smarts and legendary handling acumen - fail to shine when asked to tame bendy ribbons of billiard-table-smooth Scottish tarmac? A no-brainer, we thought, like sending Kiefer Sutherland in as a ringer to handle a leg for your team in the body-shot competition at the International Jägermeister Bakeoffs. Lotus was playing to its strength.
What really would have been a test would have been to drop an Evora into an Atlanta traffic jam during a rush hour in July, perhaps while headed to visit Lotus's North American headquarters in not-too-distant Duluth, Georgia, ideally during a deathly humid heat wave turned flash flood and electrical storm. With the Lotus marque's historic propensity for sketchy reliability, you really can't test the new ones hard enough.
We don't get out much lately, I'm thinking, because we had one important fact about Scotland all wrong. Turns out the narrow lanes chosen for our introductory drive are lovely, but they aren't smooth anymore, if they ever were. In fact, it appears the relevant Scottish authorities share a philosophy of road maintenance with the beleaguered civil servants responsible for New York City's Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Many stretches of our recommended route reminded me of nothing so much as the BQE following a nasty winter, being about as smooth on average as an Afghan goat trail after an F-18 strike. Muddy, floody, pocked, potholed, grooved, greased, creased, half-paved, and undergoing repairs, the local roads meant we'd be running a gauntlet designed to bring out the worst in a mid-engine sports car. And, just in case, it never stopped raining. This was going to be a real test, after all.
Rough roads and inclement Scottish weather likely explained the two accidents we came upon after setting out from our hotel, one a solo exercise in which an econo-minivan had done some variation of an end-over-endo to pile-drive its butt end into a ditch, nose pointed skyward. Extensive rubbernecking, our own included, slowed us down, but this was only after another larger accident had already left us stranded for forty minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. That was when we got wise and turned around to run the suggested driving loop backward.