Here comes another high-rider from a brand that is known only for sports cars: Lotus.
Yes, Lotus -like fellow British marques such as Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Jaguar- is set to capitalize on the growing market known as the SUV. And they're calling it the Eletre.
And yes, it's electric too. And yes, it has self driving technology.
The Eletre is built on what Lotus calls Electric Premium Architecture (EPA). We're not quite sure if that's a nod to the US EPA, but what we know is that it has 600 horsepower from its electric motors and a range of 600 km. In addition, Lotus says the EPA platform allows the SUV to have a low center of gravity, which results in outstanding handling.
Up at the front, the Eletre is an angry-looking crossover, with its sharp-looking daytime running lights and wide grille. The main headlights are hidden in the blacked-out section, and the interconnecting triangular pieces on the grille open up when cooling the car's components. The rest of the crossover's design characteristics don't look too far off the Evija hypercar, though we are seeing some similarities to the Lamborghini Urus.
Inside the Eletre is where the total transformation has happened. Combustion powered Lotus cars of the past used to have little to nothing on the inside, but the EV is packed with lots of LED screens and more importantly, premium-grade materials. Quite simply, this may be the most luxurious interior we've ever seen in a Lotus.
Because it's a performance crossover, Lotus fitted the Eletre with air suspension and adaptive dampers as standard, together with active anti-roll bars, active ride height, carbon-ceramic brakes with 10-piston front calipers, torque vectoring, and rear-wheel steering. Not only that, but the Eletre has a party trick called active aerodynamics to increase the car's efficiency and range.
There are plenty of safety features and driver-assist systems on the Eletre SUV, and it even has the world's first deployable Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system in a production car. Lotus says while the SUV still won't drive on its own for now, the system is already in place to provide “end-to-end autonomous driving”.
Eletre will be a critical model for Lotus. The automaker hasn't had a great decade with aging models, declining sales, and a variety of issues (including the sacking of their CEO) that eventually led to Geely buying the majority of the company. If done right, the Eletre could be the model that sets the future for the company. Eletre could be their most profitable model and boost the brand in the same way the Cayenne did for Porsche or what the Urus is doing for Lamborghini.
The Geely ownership is interesting too: 2023 Lotus Eletre's production is set to start not in the UK, but at an all-new high-tech facility in Wuhan, China. Lotus says they will already start offering the Eletre across global markets. Deliveries will begin in 2023 with China, UK, and Europe getting first dibs on the company's first SUV.