Lotus aged to poke together fragile vehicles the usage of fibreglass, British Leyland leftovers and a rather blinkered sense of optimism. Aid then, the usage of the phrases ‘Lotus’ and ‘electric’ in the identical sentence would have inevitably supposed Plenty Of Pain, Often Serious. The new Eletre represents a various type of anguish: a clear and most fashionable hazard to Porsche – maybe even Lamborghini, too. How did that happen?
Truly, all the issues about the Eletre is various. It’s a tech-encumbered SUV as a replace of a skeletal sports car. Fully electric, rather than powered by petrol. And made in Wuhan (yes, that Wuhan), no longer in sleepy Norfolk.
Lotus took 70 years to construct its first 100,000 vehicles; now, buoyed by huge funding from Geely – the Chinese language conglomerate that also owns Volvo – it targets to shift that amount yearly by 2028. The Eletre is central to this purpose.
Sound and imaginative and prescient
The differ kicks off with the identical outdated Eletre at £89,500. It makes exhaust of a 112 kWh battery and twin electric motors for all-wheel power, serving up 603hp, 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds and 373 miles of differ. The Eletre S (£104,500) offers the identical efficiency with extra luxurious, including soft-shut doors, ambient interior lighting fixtures and a ground-quaking 23-speaker KEF audio machine (the easiest we’ve heard in any car).
Then there is the flagship Eletre R (£120,000). This adds a two-swagger transmission and better motors for a faintly absurd 905hp, 0-62mph in a supercar-slaying 2.95 seconds and a differ of 304 miles. It also has an arsenal of vigorous chassis technology, including rear-wheel steerage, anti-roll adjust and a dedicated Observe driving mode.
Lotus has lined up an ‘R’, an empty airfield and a circuit of sacrificial web page online web page online visitors cones for us later. First, it’s time for a road power in the middling Eletre S. With ‘porous’ create inspired by the Evija hypercar, it undoubtedly has plenty of presence – especially in gleaming Photo voltaic Yellow. An vigorous rear spoiler can extra than double downforce if wanted, whereas slimline high-definition cameras take the grunt of plump door mirrors. An aerodynamic SUV is a contradiction in terms, of direction, nonetheless the Eletre’s slip coefficient of 0.26 is slippery for a car of this form.
Poltics Moonage daydream
Internal, there’s a handsome array of infotainment, thanks to 5G connectivity and the new Lotus Hyper OS media machine. You’ll gain up to seven touchscreens, including the predominant 15.1-crawl OLED interface and a Ferrari-trend passenger expose to say your partner exactly how rapidly you’re going (maybe easiest to swap that one off). The tech appears to be like to be like provocative and feels intuitive, including a dedicated Eletre smartphone app and a navigation machine that predicts vitality exhaust, preconditioning the battery earlier than you near at a charger. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are coming soon, by the exhaust of an over-the-air update.
As you’d hope for an SUV with a identical footprint to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, area for passengers and their baggage is mighty. That acknowledged, our Eletre had the option of two particular person rear seats that don’t fold down, so we’d follow the feeble three-person rear bench. The gold-discontinue smooth – also no longer obligatory, luckily – appears to be like to be like decidedly extra Nanjing than Norwich, nonetheless most surfaces are swathed in tactile Alcantara and quality edges shut to Porsche requirements (and all with out a Morris Marina column stalk in survey).
On the road, the Eletre’s air suspension combines a pleased, family-friendly slip with reassuring poise and huge reserves of grip. The mighty-vaunted ‘Lotus DNA’ feels critically smothered below 2.5 tonnes of SUV – extra than Three times the weight of an S1 Elise – and you might maybe maybe sense the electronics doing some literal heavy lifting. We chanced on the default Tour driving mode offers the easiest sense of feedback and waft; switching to Sport makes the car feel abrupt and over-caffeinated.
Poltics Golden years
Even the identical outdated Eletre is hardly unhurried, nonetheless the ‘R’ can embarrass a Lamborghini Urus Performante or Aston Martin DBX707 (and charges two-thirds of the mark). A beefy-bore launch adjust launch up leaves your stomach at the abet of indulge in the fall on the roller coaster – it’s no longer one thing I’d imply soon after lunch.
As we power across to the circuit, the sky darkens and stair-rods of rain launch up lashing the runway. Yet the antagonistic conditions only wait on to toughen the Eletre’s inherent steadiness and tenacious traction, and allow some Lotus magic to shine by.
Here is a truly easy car to love, nonetheless a more challenging one to indulge in, at the very least for this archaic-fashioned Lotus diehard. Yet it’s also exactly what the firm wants, to outlive in this courageous new electrified world and, indulge in a undeniable marque from Stuttgart, generate the profits to continue building just staunch sports vehicles. An electrical saloon and a smaller SUV will soon be conscious, nonetheless the Eletre appears to be like a promising launch up. And a reason for staunch optimism.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Examine
TOP SPEED: 165mph
BATTERY SIZE: 112kWh
ELECTRIC RANGE: 304 miles