1. It’s a Lotus like no other
Lotus makes small, lightweight sports cars, shifting a handful of units a year and bumping along on the brink of financial oblivion, right? Wrong. That was Old Lotus, a company that until just a couple of years ago was still scraping a living from updated versions of its game-changing Elise (launched in 1996…).
New Lotus is owned by Chinese giant Geely (it also owns Volvo, which has been transformed over the last decade) and it is deadly serious about turning Lotus into a rival for the European elite, namely Ferrari and Porsche. First, we saw the electric Evija hypercar, then the Cayman rival, the Emira. And now we have the Eletre, a car that represents so many firsts for Lotus you lose count: first four-door, first mainstream EV, first car that isn’t a sports car…
2. It’s a bit like a Urus… but electric
The Eletre’s dramatic proportions work hard to hide its size. It doesn’t look big (helped by the enormous 23-inch wheels) but it is a big car: dimensionally it’s very similar, in fact, to the Lamborghini Urus.
But while every rival you can think of, including Ferrari’s imminent Purosangue SUV (set to be revealed before the end of this year), is built around a big petrol engine, the Eletre is electric. Lotus isn’t interested in plug-in hybrids, so the Eletre combines a big battery (likely around 110kWh) under the floor with an electric motor on each axle for four-wheel drive and incredible acceleration – Lotus is targeting a sub-3 second 0-62mph time, and more than 340 miles of driving range.
3. It promises to drive like a Porsche Taycan
Unlike Lotus’s legendary sports cars, the Eletre won’t be a lightweight. But cars like the Aston Martin DBX and Porsche Macan prove that the right technology, artfully calibrated, can make these big, heavy brutes a joy to drive.
With adaptive air suspension as standard and such options as active anti-toll control, torque vectoring and rear-wheel steering, the Eletre shouldn’t drive anything like the big, heavy 4x4 it is. Indeed, Lotus is targeting the brilliant Porsche Taycan as its dynamic benchmark. Given its astonishing track record, both on Lotus cars and those it develops for third parties, you wouldn’t bet against this being a new high watermark for fun-to-drive 4x4s.
4. The interior is knockout
If you think the Eletre’s exterior is brave (and it is, with plenty of design cues from the wild Evija hypercar), the interior is astonishing. The glass roof and heavily raked windscreen mean it’s full of light, while the space-efficient platform means it’s also full of space – the second row, in particular, offers limo-like legroom.
There’s no big driver’s display, just a really neat strip of a screen that works with the head-up display to convey all the driving information you need. A central, landscape-orientated OLED touchscreen controls the bulk of the car’s functions, but it can slide out of sight when you want to focus on driving.
5. It won’t be as expensive as you might think
The Eletre order book opens soon, ahead of first UK deliveries in early 2023.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but while the range will stretch comfortably into six figures, the Eletre will start from ‘well under £100k’. That puts it up against the juicier end of the Porsche Cayenne range but well under on-paper rivals like Aston’s DBX and the Lamborghini Urus.