Not too long ago, the thought of a Lotus with an automatic transmission would have been as unthinkable as a Ferrari or Lamborghini that shifted itself. Times change, and last year Lotus introduced a performance-focused automatic transmission for the 2011 Evora to stay with them.

Called IPS, for “Intelligent Precision Shift,” the six-speed automatic gearbox lets the driver retain a significant amount of control. While it can be operated in a fully automatic mode (ideal for those commutes to and from the office), it can also be shifted manually, with the transmission holding the selected gear to redline.

In between these extremes is a “Sport” mode, which executes faster shifts and automatically matches revs on the downshift. It also quickens throttle response, opens a valve in the exhaust  and tones down the electronic stability control to allow for more tail-out driving fun.

If you want to get a feel for how well the IPS works in the Evora S, this video (starring Matt Becker, Lotus’ Chief Engineer for Vehicle Dynamics) gives you a good idea. In Sport mode, upshifts are quick, while the rev-matched downshifts, determined by the car’s rate of deceleration, are flawlessly executed.

While most of us are traditionalists who prefer a good six speed manual to the latest electro-wizardry gearbox, we understand that there’s a time and a place for everything. By offering up the IPS transmission, Lotus hopes to broaden its appeal and sell more Evora coupes. In our eyes, that’s a good thing.