Electric Car

TG’s electric car we’re most curious to drive: the Lotus Eletre

Electric Awards 2022

It’s happened: a fully electric Lotus… SUV. Here’s why it’s one of our EVs to watch

What is it?

The Lotus Eletre, but you knew that because you don’t live on another planet and are thus acquainted with a new vehicle that basically trashes everything Britain’s most principled sports car maker stands for.

At least, that’s the perception some folk will have. The Eletre certainly looks very striking, but it also looks as though it has eaten an Elise for lunch, with an Emira for afters. Consequently it weighs 2.2 tonnes, but absolutely none of that matters because this is about establishing a hi-tech bridge-head in a new automotive world order. Lotus has made a circa £100k pure-electric SUV. Get used to it.

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Give me some details about the Lotus Eletre.

It’s big. Lamborghini Urus sized, in fact: 5.1m long, 1.6m tall and a resounding 2.2m wide. This isn’t a Lotus designed for your favourite B-road or that gives a fig for steering feel; this one is aimed at Asia’s heavy hitters and needs to make a serious impact in North America.

It’s underpinned by an all-new, Lotus-developed platform called Electric Premium Architecture, one of those ‘skateboard’-style arrangements whose flexibility means it can underpin different sorts of cars, and accommodate different size battery packs and electric motors. EPA uses a mixture of aluminium and high tensile steel. Clearly, Lotus’s paymasters at Geely think that a lavishly specified, high technology, high performance SUV is the one to get the ball rolling. There’s more to come.

There will be a sizeable options list and different flavours of Eletre, but they’ll all have a battery capacity in excess of 100kWh for the equivalent of 592bhp or so, a maximum range of 373 miles, and the ability to recharge from a 350kW charger in 18 minutes. Also standard is air suspension and a clever active aerodynamics set-up. Options include an active rear axle, torque vectoring via an e-diff, and a 48v anti-roll system.

Why should I care about the Lotus Eletre?

You will if you want Lotus to have a future.

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It obviously takes some time to get your head around the damn thing – forget the electrification and the SUV body, this is the first Lotus to have four doors – but the team at the company’s advanced design studio in Coventry have done a fine job, don’t you think? It looks great in profile, the blade nose is complex but gets away with it and, like the Evija, the Eletre’s body has chunks deliberately carved out of it, mainly for aero reasons but also because it looks cool. Check out the ‘floating’ rear spoiler, the camera mirrors, and the Lidar sensors. This Lotus actively wants to drive itself. Guess we’ve got to get used to that, too. And its spectacular interior.

Why did you give the Lotus Eletre an award?

Lotus’s PR people are keen to press home something they call ‘born British, raised globally’. Whatever that means. The Eletre’s multi-nationality is useful, though. China is a world leader in battery tech, Germany for the hard- and software, Sweden in safety, while the UK oversees the sexy stuff like the chassis tuning and design. Lotus can tap freely into this global brains trust. And, as with Porsche, commercial success in a high-margin sector like the high-end SUV one should mean more bunce to invest in the areas Lotus has traditionally been good in.

Of course, we need to drive it. But I doubt they’ve cocked this one up.

For the full story pick up the Electric Awards issue of Top Gear magazine

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