Lotus has finally thrown the silks off its first-ever SUV, the all-electric Eletre.
Boasting “the soul of a Lotus with the usability of an SUV,” and dubbed “a momentous point in [the brand’s] history,” the Electre is the first of three new ‘lifestyle’ EVs set to be introduced by Lotus across the next four years.
While no firm plans have been provided for the North American market, the Electre SUV is now on sale in its native UK, across Europe and in China, with customer deliveries scheduled to begin in 2023.
Developed under the codename ‘Type 132,’ the Eletre – which means ‘Coming to Life’ and continues the Hethel brand’s ‘E’-prominent nomenclature – measures 5,103 mm (16.7 ft) in length, 2,135 mm (7 ft) in width), and stands 1,630 mm (just under 5.5 ft) tall, and sits on a 3,019 mm wheelbase (10 ft, ish). This lines the British E-SUV up alongside Tesla’s Model X, the BMW iX, and potentially the Mercedes EQS SUV.
Constructed from a blend of carbon fibre and aluminium, the Eletre is built atop Lotus’ brand-new Electric Premium Architecture, flexible enough to accommodate at least three different segment models and their respective drivetrains, but performance-focused enough to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. The EV-dedicated platform is expected to underpin Lotus’ next three lifestyle EVs, including a ‘Type 133’ four-door coupe due in 2023, a ‘Type ‘134’ D-segment SUV pencilled in for 2025, and a brand-new EV supercar Lotus has already teased.
Though exact figures have not been revealed, the 800-volt EPA platform incorporates three electric motors – two at the front, one at the rear – mated with a battery pack boasting “more than 100 kWh” (the latter is described as “skateboard-style” flat to emphasize the low centre of gravity). The package produces upwards of 600 hp, enough for a 260 km/h top speed and, crucially, a sub-three second 0-100 km/h, making the Eletre one of the fastest E-SUVs of its size.
In a first for a Lotus, standard drive modes ‘Range’, ‘Tour’ and ‘Sport’ are now joined by ‘Off-Road,’ though the Eletre’s true rugged capabilities remain unknown at present. Adaptive air suspension meanwhile (five-link at the rear) is available as standard, though optional extras include active ride height, active rear axle steering, an active anti-roll bar, and torque vectoring via braking to ensure Lotus’ seven-decade-old road-holding capability.
Alongside that performance, the tri-motor setup theoretically provides around 600 km of electric range, thanks to the aerodynamic design inspired heavily by Lotus’ Evija hypercar (on the charging front, up to 400 km is available at 350 kW capacity in just 20 minutes). Called ‘porosity,’ the design allows air flow to channel through the vehicle as well as around and above it via a large vent in the bonnet – which exits through ‘tunnels’ in the rear bumper – and active grilles behind the front grilles. This aerodynamism continues via roof-mounted winglets and vents moulded into the D-pilar, which channel airflow towards the active rear spoiler.
Another crucial element of the design is Lotus’ Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system, incorporated into the tailgate lightbar (scrolling indicators at both ends as is customary). In normal use, the lightbar is red, turns green and/or yellow when the vehicle is locked/unlocked, and, in a neat touch, has the potential to scroll from left to right to show how much battery charge is left.
Inside, Lotus showcases what it calls “an unprecedented new level” of comfort and quality, courtesy of a panoramic sunroof, screams mounted in the doors showing an image from the wing-mounted digital mirrors, slim instrument clusters on the dash for driver and passenger alike, and a 15.1-inch centre touchscreen for the infotainment system. In a very Lotus-esque touch, the wool-blend fabric on the seats offers a 50 per cent weight saving over conventional leather.
While Lotus has taken the lead on performance, the British brand has leaned heavily on parent company Geely for the technology.