Hot Handlers: BMW M3 vs Lotus Evora S vs Nissan GT-R vs Porsche Cayman R

John Wycherley

What about efficiency, you ask? At the fuel pump, the Nissan has improved slightly to an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway, a measure that has been known to be cut in half as soon as you give it heavy doses of throttle. The M3 does considerably worse at 14/20 mpg, but the Lotus (17/26 mpg) and the nicely frugal Cayman R (20/29 mpg) generally practice moderation.

Of course, all cars are heavy drinkers when asked to perform, but the GT-R knocks down two or three glasses more than the others. On the credit side, it still could be said to offer good value for the money, even at $90,950. The rather naked M3 and the extremely basic Cayman R -- Porsche has stripped out the radio and air-conditioning -- start at $58,775 and $67,250, respectively, but can easily cost more than the alpha coupe from Japan when well equipped. Pricing for the Evora S hasn't yet been announced, but it should start at about $75,000, with a similar caveat regarding expensive extras.

There are three different engineering layouts among this quartet of sports cars. The Nissan represents the overkill approach, boasting four-wheel drive, a dual-clutch automatic, and a twin-turbo V-6. The M3 is old-school BMW: engine in the front, rear-wheel drive, and a choice of a manual or the DCT. Both the Lotus and the Porsche are mid-engined, but the Cayman is a two-seater while the Evora can be spec'd as a two-plus-two.

The new powers at Lotus don't exactly love the Evora, but they need it to bridge the gap until its next-generation cars are ready to roll off the line sometime in 2013. The Evora S uses a supercharged version of the Toyota-sourced 3.5-liter V-6. It develops 345 hp, up 69 hp from the regular Evora. While the BMW, the Nissan, and the Porsche love high speeds, the Lotus is best on second- and third-gear twisties; on challenging surfaces with camber changes, dips, and crests; and in corners with room to move so it can unleash its 295 lb-ft of torque.

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Lotus Evora

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