Lotus, the historically sports-focused car manufacturer, takes a radical turn towards electric SUVs with its new Eletre model. This electric “hyper-SUV”, the Eletre, represents a drastic reinvention for Lotus, moving away from its traditional back-to-basics sports car offerings.
Assembled in China under the ownership of the Chinese automotive conglomerate, Geely, the Eletre is a far cry from Lotus’ British roots. The Eletre is packed with tech, backed by Geely’s heavy investment in an aluminum-intensive EV platform, that will also form the base for future models.
Despite offering performance comparable to the Lamborghini Urus and Aston Martin DBX, the Eletre is priced closer to the Porsche Cayenne, marking an aggressive pricing strategy. All versions of the Eletre utilize a 112 kWh battery and twin electric motors, resulting in four-wheel drive and 603 horsepower for the base model.
The Eletre S, an upgraded model, comes with extra equipment, including 22-inch alloy wheels, soft-close doors, and a high-end 23-speaker KEF audio system. With a top speed of 165 mph and a 0-62 mph time of 2.95 seconds, the Eletre R, the top-tier model, boasts a formidable 905 horsepower.
Lotus has embedded the Eletre with innovative aerodynamic features such as petal-style vents in the front grille and an active rear spoiler, achieving a slippery drag coefficient of 0.26 for an SUV. The Eletre also employs LIDAR sensors for a comprehensive suite of 34 safety sensors and cameras, offering potential for Level 4 autonomy, once regulations permit.
The cabin features up to seven touchscreens, including a primary 15.1-inch OLED display that offers a navigation system linked to the EV drivetrain, anticipating energy use and prepping the battery before reaching a charger. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available in the Eletre via an over-the-air update before the model arrives in U.S. showrooms in 2024.
The interior of the Eletre showcases premium quality with abundant Alcantara and ambient lighting, including a dashboard “Blade of Light” that can communicate different statuses to the driver. Although the Eletre offers effortless acceleration and impressive refinement, Lotus decided to refrain from introducing any artificial noise.
The weight of the Eletre, starting at 5,490 pounds, is a point of criticism, as it impacts efficiency and contradicts Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s mantra of “Simplify, then add lightness”. Despite its substantial weight, the Eletre managed 2.71 miles per kWh after 120 miles of varied road driving, a figure that might disappoint efficiency-conscious drivers.
However, the Eletre does come with a 350 kW charging capacity, allowing for quick replenishing from 10% to 80% in just 20 minutes. The Eletre, though comfortable in city traffic, shows its true potential on winding country roads, where the electromechanical steering and the chassis respond with neutral balance and ample grip.
Despite Lotus‘ radical pivot with the Eletre, the vehicle stays true to the brand’s reputation for performance and innovation. While it doesn’t offer the traditional excitement of a Purosangue or Urus, the Eletre’s point-to-point pace can’t be denied.
The Eletre R, with its active anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering, demonstrates excellent control even in poor weather conditions. The Eletre’s rear sports seats do not fold down, making the vehicle slightly less practical for users requiring larger cargo space.
The pop-out LIDAR sensors are an eye-catching feature, highlighting Lotus’s dedication to state-of-the-art technology and future-proofing. The Eletre’s launch-control starts, particularly in the high-power Eletre R, offer a stomach-churning thrill akin to that found in supercars.
Lotus is targeting an ambitious annual sales goal of 100,000 cars by 2028, a feat that took the company 70 years to achieve previously. The Eletre offers a combination of luxury and performance, which could potentially attract many customers unfamiliar with the Lotus brand.
Given the significant changes in direction, it will be interesting to see the market’s reaction to Lotus’s new line-up. The Eletre sets a strong precedent for Lotus’s reinvention as a significant player in the electric vehicle industry.
Despite concerns over weight and efficiency, the Eletre promises a balance of power, luxury, and innovative tech features. The future of Lotus seems optimistic, with the hope that the success of the Eletre will fund the development of a new generation of electric sports cars.