With the GT-R's brake rotors still pinging and radiating heat, we decide to lose 750 pounds and climb into the Evora. Our test car is brand-new and literally just off the boat from Hethel, England, but anyone who has spent time in the Lotus Elise will instantly feel at home. Not only does it share the roadster's basic aluminum structure and mid-engine configuration, it also demonstrates the same unyielding devotion to the Lotus brand's lightweight religion. That means some compromises, even in what Lotus considers its grand tourer. The Toyota 3.5-liter V-6 nearly blocks the rearward view (thankfully, there's an optional backup camera), and the doorsills, although easier to climb over than in the Elise or the Exige, are still not for the clumsy.
This singular focus pays off at the track, where, even though it's the slowest due to having the poorest power-to-weight ratio, it's also the most consistent and most rewarding. "The teensy steering wheel and quick steering make the Lotus feel half a ton lighter than the other cars here, and the amount of feedback that reaches your hands is staggering," Cammisa says. The V-6, familiar to any Camry owner, is also a joy despite its lack of stat-sheet prowess, providing consistent, smooth thrust throughout its range. The only fly in the punch bowl is the six-speed "sports ratio" manual gearbox, which can be a bit clunky and notchy, especially when worked hard on a racetrack. Overall, the Evora is a tribute to the English ideals of simplicity and balance, and it is a car just about anyone can enjoy at its limits.
Not so for our next ride, which should probably come with a bumper sticker that reads "not to be taken lightly." There are some purists who claim that refinement and modernization, including the switch from air- to water-cooling and the development of sophisticated chassis electronics, have watered down the Porsche 911. To this we can only reply, "Just look at it." Some sixty years after postwar Porsches first emerged from the primordial ooze that is the Volkswagen Beetle, the 911 remains a beast that rewards the skilled and feasts on the foolhardy. The weight distribution of this heavily equipped, PDK-transmission Carrera S reads the same as that of the Lotus - 38/62 percent front to rear - but the feel is entirely different. Shut off all the safety nannies and lift mid-turn, and you'll find yourself with a full head of vertigo as that 3.8-liter engine hanging off the rear axle swings about. But, as Cammisa contends, "If you've read and comprehended the 911's very lengthy rule book, you'll find it will do anything you want." The rear-engine configuration keeps the back wheels planted under throttle almost as well as the all-wheel-drive GT-R, and with skillful applications of liftoff oversteer, the Porsche rounded the course about a second and a half faster than the Lotus.