Lotus Eletre opens a new front in electric SUVs

Ladies and gentlemen, this begins Lotus’ new era as an EV maker, the Eletre. It takes elements we’ve seen on the Evija battery-electric hypercar and Emira ICE sports car, packs them into a bigger package, boosts them and adds a lot of new technology for the brand and the market.

Let’s start with the size, which is the easiest. The Eletre is 201 inches long on a 118.9-inch wheelbase, approximately 79 inches wide and 64 inches high. Each of those dimensions puts the Lotus within a few inches of the Aston Martin DBX: The EV is slightly longer, with a slightly shorter wheelbase, a bit wider and a roof a few inches lower.

For us, the side view best matches the shape we envisioned based on recent spyshots. The front is intense, the yellow of the hero car is the greatest contrast to the polygonal void below. The lights above the leading edge are DRLs and turn signals, the high beams are recessed into that void and hug the top edge. The rear, with its Lotus lettering and full-width light bar merging into triangular inlets along the sides, is clearly a sports car cue. It can glow in four colors, depending on what it needs to communicate, and connects to the light bar over the instrument panel. However, the SUV proportions and black roof still play tricks on our eyes; we can’t help but feel the Eletre carrying its mass upwards.

The wheels are an optional set of 23-inchers that hide optional 10-piston (ten!) calipers that engage ceramic composite rotors. Lotus is not ready to disclose specific battery capacity and engine outputs between those wheels. All we were told is that the package is over 100 kWh and the power starts at 600 hp. Each Eletre is four-wheel drive, with a motor on each axle.

The 800-volt electrical architecture can handle fast charging up to 350 kW, 20 minutes at a station at that charging rate, restoring 248 WLTP miles from the Eletre’s estimated range in WLTP testing. EPA numbers will come eventually. Lotus says the conveyor will go to 62 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 261 mph.

The housings of the electronic side mirrors each house three cameras, one for rear view, one to create a 360-degree top view and one to enable self-driving. The charging port is on the left front fender, but keen eyes may notice more latches on the front wheel arches. Those are for retracting lidar sensors that work with two more lidar sensors in the roof, one in the front, another in the back. These could give the Eletre the kind of autonomous capability not yet seen on a production car.

The interior comes in four- and five-seat configurations. A slim instrument panel and a head-up display provide the driver with relevant information, while the front passengers receive a similar slim display that can display infotainment options. In between is a 15.1-inch infotainment touchscreen that lies flat when not in use. Connecting them together creates a full-width light bar “changes color to communicate with the residents.” Cabin materials include a wool blend for the seats, microfiber for soft touches and recycled carbon fiber. And on top of being Lotus’ first SUV, here’s a sentence Lotus has never had to write before: “There’s a wealth of practical storage space in the Eletre’s cab,” from storage bins and cup holders to liter bottle holders in the doors.

There will also be melodies. British audio conglomerate KEF is supplying the standard and optional units, with the former being a 1380-watt, 15-speaker surround sound affair. Upgrade from KEF Premium to KEF Reference and get 2,160 watts through 23 speakers.

We can’t imagine Lotus having lost its way with driving dynamics; we wouldn’t be surprised if the Eletre sets a new bar in the small but growing segment. The SUV offers standard air suspension and active damping; active ride height, active rear axle steering, an active anti-roll bar and torque vectoring via brakes will be available. The four driving modes are Range, Tour, Sport and Off-Road, the elements of which can be combined in an Individual mode. In addition to the usual changes to things like steering and dampers, certain modes change the angle of the three-stage rear wing.

The Eletre is now on sale at a price we don’t know at the time of writing. It will be built at the carmaker’s new factory in China, with deliveries starting next year. You know who to call if you are interested.