The Evora, as the newcomer to this segment, had the most to prove. Like the best British sports cars, it establishes its brilliance not on paper (although its performance numbers would be impressive among any other company) but rather through the way it makes a driver feel behind the wheel. Compared with the rest of this group, it stands out for its refreshing simplicity and purity. Of course, British sports cars also tend to be demanding, and the Evora is no different. Lotus casts it as a more practical proposition than the hard-core Elise and Exige, and that's certainly true, but the second-place Evora still demands enough sacrifices that it won't be for everyone.
That leaves the Porsche 911. Germans are supposed to be logical, practical, and unsentimental. The 911 certainly conforms with the first two - it is the most well-rounded performer here, possessing the most refined interior along with great brakes and steering feel from the gods. But it's certainly not lacking in sentiment. The fact that it's still around, and so very good, speaks to the unrelenting devotion of Porsche's engineers. The 911 should be obsolete, and yet, it's the best of a brilliant group, and our winner.
With regulations toughening and automakers squeezing their global operations for every last synergy, it's likely that the homogenization of the automobile will only accelerate. But these four cars, which are all amazingly quick and, by the way, all manage to avoid a gas-guzzler tax, prove there's still more than one way to skin a cat. Thanks to the wonderfully dissimilar products of Bowling Green, Kentucky; Zuffenhausen, Germany; Hethel, England; and Tochigi, Japan, finding a favorite sports car remains a particularly personal and exceptionally fun proposition.