Born British, Raised Globally: Lotus Reveals New Eletre Hyper SUV
It’s no secret that British automaker Lotus was among the first to incorporate electrification into a hypercar with its Evija. The automaker’s reinvention continues with the all-new Eletre SUV, a vehicle of many firsts for the Lotus brand. Eletre is the first five-door Lotus production vehicle and is their first “lifestyle-oriented” EV. It’s also the most connected Lotus ever with its plethora of user-friendly technology.
“The Eletre is a bold and revolutionary new car, delivering on our commitment to move Lotus into completely new automotive segments as we widen our global goal and accessibility,” said Matt Windle, Managing Director, Lotus Cars. “It is a true Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight performance car customers and offer a distinctive alternative to the segment’s established players.”
Setting The Stage
The Eletre is the first in a new range of Lotus high-performance electric vehicles to be built in Wuhan, China, corroborating Eletre’s “Born British, Raised Globally” development idiom.
However, don’t be fooled by Eletre’s family-friendly she and four-door persona. Lotus refers to Eletre as not merely an SUV but a hyper SUV, essentially a Lotus sports car molded into a more practical body. If the Lamborghini Urus-esque face is any indication, we’re talking about an SUV that could rival the performance merits of sports cars and hypercars, electric or whatnot.
Performance Specs & Charging Times
Lotus claims Eletre will boast “exceptional dynamics, outstanding comfort, and true Lotus performance,” attributes that you can trace back to each Lotus since the company’s founding in 1952 by the late Colin Chman. The Eletre’s Electric Premium Architecture (EPA) is a skateboard-style, aluminum-intensive chassis with high tensile steel components for better rigidity.
Lotus did not mention the front suspension, but Eletre has a five-link rear suspension. It also has air-sprung dampers equipped with continuous damping control (CDC) and active ride height. Meanwhile, optional performance-enhancing drivetrain features include active rear-axle steering, an electric anti-roll bar, and torque vectoring via braking.
The Eletre has an all-new 800V electric architecture (like the Porsche Taycan) with an integrated high-voltage power distribution system, allowing two electric motors and a flat 100+kWh battery pack to eke out 600 horsepower and around 373 miles of WLTP- rated driving range. “From a performance perspective, we know the world is watching, so there has been an obsession with getting everything just right,” said Gavan Kershaw, Attributes and Product Integrity, Lotus Cars.
With 600 horses at your disposal, the Eletre will respond to a heavy right foot. Lotus claims zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds with a 160 mph top speed. The driver gets to fiddle with four driving modes, including Range, Tour, Sport, and Off-Road, while an Individual mode is customizable to your liking. The 800V architecture enables up to 350kW of DC fast-charging, replenishing about 250 miles of range in 20 minutes. If you don’t have access to a DC fast charger, the system works with a 22kW AC charger, although it will take longer than 20 minutes.
We’re not kidding about the Lambo Urus references. You could easily mistake the Lotus Eletre for the Urus at first glance, particularly when viewed from the front. Lotus says the cab-forward design consists of a short hood, short overhangs, and a long wheelbase, creating the impression of a high-riding sports car rather than an SUV. But above all, the “porosity” design element is evident throughout. “We have taken the iconic design language of the Lotus sports cars and successfully evolved it into an elegant and exotic hyper SUV,” said Ben Payne, Head of the Lotus Design Studio.
First seen in the Evija, the porosity design philosophy is an aerodynamic principle that allows air to flow through the car, as opposed to just the standard “under, over, and around” proach. Air flows to the leading edge of the vehicle and emerges through two bonnet vents. In addition, air vents behind the front wheel arches, behind the rear wheels, and on top of the D-pillar channel air to improve top speed, range, and overall performance.
Lotus’ porosity design philosophy means harvesting most of the aero benefits without awkward wings and canards, leading to the vehicle’s clean yet dynamic vibe. Still, the Eletre has a racing-inspired split roof spoiler that channels air to an active tailgate spoiler that deploys at speed.
Helping the cause further is an active lower front grille, allowing Eletre to “breathe” when necessary by feeding cooling air to the radiator, electric motors, battery pack, and brakes. We particularly fancy the Eletre’s flush door handles and daytime running lights with hidden main headlights below the DRL clusters, a design feature we first saw in the Hyundai Kona. We’re also crushing on those snazzy 23-inch machine-cut alloy wheels and 10-piston ceramic composite brakes.
High tech interior
The all-new Lotus Eletre is brimming with advanced tech features. There’s an automatic deploying LIDAR sensor on top of the windshield, while there are pop-out LIDAR sensors above the front wheel arches to support semi-autonomous driving. Keen-eyed readers will notice the absence of conventional door mirrors because Eletre has an Electric Reverse Mirror Display (ERMD), which utilizes three different cameras.
Meanwhile, the driver and passengers enjoy 5G connectivity, seating for four or five adults wrapped in a wool-blend fabric, Kvadrat microfiber touchpoints, and marble-like recycled carbon fiber trim. Do you see that light blade running across the instrument panel and the dash? It does not merely provide ambient lighting but is part of Eletre’s human-machine interface (HMI) that changes color when receiving a phone call or adjusting the climate control.
No modern electric car is complete without an array of screens, and the eletre has many. It has a 15.1-inch OLED infotainment screen that folds flat when not in use. The driver gets a heads-up display with augmented reality and a thin screen in the instrument cluster, while the front passenger has a small screen, too. Meanwhile, rear passengers have a nine-inch hinged touchscreen in the middle console and a standard KEF audio system with 15 speakers.
Advanced Safety Features
The new Lotus Eletre not only has semi-autonomous driving features and over-the-air (OTA) updates. It’s also packing a long list of advanced safety features like additive cruise control, collision mitigation, front/rear cross-traffic alert, lane changing assist, child presence detection, and traffic sign information, to name a few.
Lotus Eletre: Pricing & Availability
Lotus is currently taking orders for the Eletre hyper-electric SUV. Production begins later this year, while the first deliveries will arrive in China, the UK, and Europe in early 2023. Pricing remains forthcoming, but we expect the MSRP to start at or above $110,000.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.
Photos & Source: Lotus Cars.