Although it seems to run counter to founder Colin Chapman’s philosophy of simplifying and adding lightness, Lotus’ latest model is the highly anticipated Eletre, an all-electric crossover that seems like one hell of a package. As well as being the brand’s first SUV, the Eletre is also Lotus’ first four-door production vehicle and is sure to become its most profitable and bulky model.
The Eletre SUV rides on Lotus’ new Electric Premium Architecture platform, which will underpin a host of other “lifestyle” cars. It uses a 100 kilowatt-hour battery with an electric motor at each axle, and there will be three different versions, with the least powerful still having 600 horsepower. Lotus says the car has a maximum range of 373 miles on the European WLTP cycle, 248 miles of range in 20 minutes on a 350kW fast charger and a 0-62mph time of under 3 seconds. Air suspension with adaptive dampers is standard and the Eletre is available with performance features such as active anti-roll bars, active ride height, carbon-ceramic brakes with 10-piston front calipers, vectoring torque and rear wheel steering. There are also 23-inch wheels as an option, and every Eletre has four riding modes, including an off-road mode.
At 200.9 inches long, the Eletre is about half a foot longer than a. While its 118-inch wheelbase matches the BMW, the Lotus still has a fairly long rear overhang but a short hood. Overall, the surface is clean and crisp with the black roof and siding reducing visual mass, and the rear glass has a pretty intense rake. The menacing front end has L-shaped LED running lights at the front of the bonnet above, with the main lights wrapped in the Eletre’s smiling grille, and the de rigueur thin taillight strip flashing in green when the car is charging. It looks like some sort of angry dinosaur at best, and while it doesn’t look very Lotus at first glance, it fits in with the brand’s other recent models, like and is certainly distinctive.
Many performance crossovers have aggressive designs with vents and scoops that are usually fake, but the Eletre is another story. Like on, the vents in the hood, lower grille, front fenders, D-pillar and outer edges of the Eletre’s taillights are all true through-air channels for better aerodynamics – it’s cooler on the outside. rear, where you can look through the car to see the rear wheels. Lotus calls this ‘porosity’, referring to the way air circulates through the car to increase efficiency and range. It also has an active spoiler at the base of the tailgate glass and interesting fins at the top. But the real aero party trick of the Eletre is its , composed of dozens of triangular panels that form a set of hexagons. Each opens as needed to direct cooling air to the battery, motors and brakes, the movement of the panels giving the effect of breathing.
The Eletre also has the world’s first deployable lidar system in a production car. The sensors protrude from the top of the front wheel arches, the top of the windshield and the rear of the roof between the fins. Lotus has partially installed the lidar system as a future test for driver assistance systems not yet released, as the car can accept over-the-air updates, but available active safety features include cruise control adaptive with lane change assist, front and rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist and automated emergency braking. In markets that allow Eletre to use cameras instead of side mirrors, the small pods each house three cameras: one for the mirror replacement display, one for the top-down surround view, and one for the technology driving assistance.
The Eletre has by far the most luxurious interior we’ve ever seen in a Lotus, and it’s offered with a traditional rear bench seat with three or two individual seats. The dashboard is dominated by an LED strip that runs across the dashboard and changes color to notify occupants of phone calls, temperature changes, or other things. Instead of a cluster of gauges, there’s a thin display just an inch high for important information, which is paired with a standard augmented reality heads-up display. The Eletre’s center touchscreen is a 15.1-inch OLED display running a new infotainment system that folds flat into the dash when not in use, and passengers get a screen like the gauge cluster to control navigation, music or other functions. If you specify the four-seat configuration, the rear gets a fixed center console with its own 9-inch touchscreen.
Although the interior is so tech-focused, the Eletre has some fantastic tactile design elements. Microfibers and wool blends from Kvadrat are used throughout, along with aluminum and recycled carbon fiber. Most of the trim pieces and analog controls are finished in gold, and the triangular pattern of the active grille is found on the center consoles and door panels. No figures were given, but it looks like the Eletre will have plenty of room for rear passengers and generous cargo space.
The Eletre will go into production later this year at a new factory in China. No exact price or on-sale schedule for the US has been announced, but expect the Eletre to go on sale by mid-2023 with a starting price of at least $100,000. The continuation of the Eletre will bea four-door coupe and a which will all be electric.