Lotus Eletre – Lotus joins the Electric SUV Club

It was inevitable that Lotus would follow in the footsteps of the industry and create a car that is not only fast but can fit the whole family too. But don’t think this is a re-badged Volvo, the new Eletre is aiming to be the most exciting SUV to date. A Hyper-SUV in fact!

Just yesterday Lotus rolled out their latest all-new model at the former BBC Television Centre in London and we were there to witness the launch. Lotus put on quite a show and even staged a live history lesson going through the key stages of the Lotus journey. This is something we haven’t been used to from Lotus but it makes sense. This new car is aimed at a global audience, many of whom will have no idea about the trials and tribulations that the Norfolk car-maker has gone through. But what makes the Lotus Eletre different from all the other fast SUVs that have popped up in the market over the last decade or so?

Firstly, they have completely shunned fossil fuels in favour of electric propulsion. The Eletre will feature two powerful motors and put out around 600hp in its most basic form. Couple that with a slippery design and Lotus’ new fetish for advanced aerodynamics and you should end up with one of the fastest SUVs to date. Expect 0-60mph in under 3 seconds and a top speed in excess of 160mph. All whilst offering the more luxury and tech than any Lotus before it. This makes a Tesla Model X look basic.

The design a new departure for Lotus and is the first Lotus not to be designed at their HQ in Hethel for quite some time. Going forward Lotus in Hethel will continue to work on the sports and super cars whilst Lotus Technology in Coventry will work on the more practical models. This is the first fruits of Geely’s efforts to restructure and revitalise Lotus. Despite not coming from the same team that brought us the Emira and Evija, the Eletre still has all the family cues.

Everywhere you look there are vents and holes to guide the air. Lotus calls this ‘Porosity’ and it uses it to keep the design clean and free from fuss whilst still offering maximum aero efficiency. Of course we’ll have to wait and see if makes any real impact on the performance of the car but it certainly makes it stand out against things like the Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus.

“The Eletre is a progressive all-electric performance vehicle embodying emotion, intelligence and prestige and, as the first of the brand’s lifestyle cars, it sets the standard for what will follow. We have taken the iconic design language of the Lotus sports car and successfully evolved it into an elegant and exotic Hyper-SUV.”

Ben Payne – Lotus Technology

The design shrinks the size of the car. It’s similar in footprint to a full-size Range Rover and up close it’s far from small but the low roofline and tapering rear end give it a much smaller overall look. It’s not a supercar but it looks fast and Lotus want people to know it’s not a shrinking violet. The wheels are huge to help hide the mass but also house large carbon ceramic brakes. There’s also carbon fibre everywhere. Lotus’ are meant to be lightweight and this will buck that trend. Despite this, Lotus say it’ll be the lightest in its class. It’s only real rivals at the moment are the BMW iX, Tesla Model X and Audi E Tron S and they are all around the two and a half tonne mark.

Inside it where it gets most exciting. The design is unlike anything we’ve seen before from Lotus and quite like anything else on the road. There’s a big central screen like a Tesla but there are also proper buttons for the basics like heating and volume. Behind the steering wheel is a super slim display that only shows the essentials. Rather than overload your view with meaningless info, it simply displays stuff like the speed, range and the current song playing. The passenger has one too. It’s a simple and effective solution.

The rest of the cabin oozes modern luxury. It’s certainly not a Bentley but the materials and finishes make a Porsche look dull. A Range Rover still offers the best cabin in the business but this might be a close second for us. Assuming Lotus build it as well as it looks. The show car had two large individual seats in the rear with a decent size screen in the middle to stave off boredom. We’re unsure if they’ll offer a five-seat bench option as well. Expect all the toys you could want as well as great sound from KEF sound system.

Overall this is a bold and ballsy move from Lotus but one that has to work. Porsche showed the world that an SUV in the line-up helps you build better sports cars because the bigger cars make more money. Lotus need a bit of this if they are to move up from small sports car maker to serious world player. Only time will decide if the Eletre is exciting enough to tempt buyers aware from Lotus’ new rivals.