Eletre EV SUV: Yes, a Lotus With 4WD and Off-Road Mode

The Eletre is the first-ever SUV from Lotus, its first high-production EV, and its first vehicle made outside the UK

Say hello to the Lotus Eletre. It’s something completely different from a brand that has spent the last 75 years building lightweight sports and racing cars.

“Eletre” means “coming to life” in some Eastern European languages. Besides the Evija, Lotus’ $2 million electric hypercar, it’s the company’s first full-EV offering. It will be built in Wuhan, China, in a factory owned by Lotus’ parent company, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

The Eletre is the official name for the Type 132 concept. It’s an electric SUV that will come with some seriously impressive tech — especially for a company that called cruise control a luxury until just a few years ago.

Lotus has started with an all-new EV platform for the Eletre. The company plans to use it to build a whole new range of cars and SUVs. It wants to use that flexibility to grow beyond its boutique sports car roots.

Because the platform is expected to be used so widely, it’s also flexible. It can support vehicles both smaller and larger than the Eletre. The architecture will also let Lotus install different electric drivelines and battery packs across the range.

Matt Windle, managing director of Lotus Cars, said:

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 appeal and accessibility. This is a momentous point in our history and a clear signal of our ongoing desire to transform our business. It is a true Lotus, and we’re confident it will delight car performance customers and offer a distinct alternative to the segment’s established players. The Eletre has the soul of a Lotus and the usability of an SUV. Alongside the Emira sports car, this is the perfect two-car garage from Lotus.

370-Mile Range Expected

(Photo/Lotus)

At launch, the Lotus Eletre will come with a battery pack that can store more than 100 kWh of charge. The big battery pack gives the Lotus an estimated range of 373 miles using the WLTP test. (Note that the European method returns higher numbers than the US-focused EPA test.)

The Eletre supports 350kW DC fast charging, which is about the fastest EV charging you can get today. Find a plug that can pump out that much juice, and you’ll be able to add around 248 miles of range in 20 minutes. Plugged in at home, the Eletre supports 22kW AC charging, slashing at-home charge times compared with the typical 7.2 kW of other EVs.

The Eletre comes with a pair of electric motors. With one fitted to each axle, Lotus says the motors offer four-wheel drive. But the company doesn’t mention low-range, so this is likely a typical EV AWD system.

Lotus quotes the Eletre’s power as “from 600 horsepower.” That’s enough power to rocket the vehicle to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. Lotus’ use of “from” has us wondering exactly how much the EV will offer down the road.

Adjustable-Height Air Ride With Off-Road Mode

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

Air suspension comes standard on the Eletre, with continuous damping control active suspension helping to keep the tires planted to the pavement. The system has the expected Sport modes, but Lotus says it will also have an Off-Road mode and the ability to raise the ride height.

Both of these should give the Lotus the ability to take you down rough roads and maybe even a trail. But the beautiful, massive wheels and rubberband tires won’t help it any off road. “Off-road” and “Lotus” aren’t two words we thought we’d ever say in the same sentence, but neither are “SUV” and “Lotus.”

Lotus took some risks with the styling of the Eletre. Though it has plenty of resemblances to the Lamborghini Urus, a comparison not helped by the bright-yellow paint, it does seem much more restrained than that gas-powered brute.

Lotus says the openings, vents, and cuts are all functional and that it has “the most advanced active aerodynamics package on any production SUV.” It will stand out if you take it from the city into the forest, that’s for sure. But we do think it looks good.

The 23-inch wheels do absolutely nothing to rein in the Eletre’s styling, but they’re probably necessary. Not just because that’s what hyper SUV buyers want, but because Lotus has scrounged up a set of brake calipers with a whopping 10 pistons. The meaty brakes clamp around ceramic composite rotors to make sure this SUV can stop in a hurry.

Sustainable Materials Inside

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

A fixed panoramic roof lets light into the cabin, shining on the four (or optional five) seats. Lotus has sourced sustainable luxury materials for the inside, including a wool-blend seat fabric that happens to weigh half of what leather does. Even the carbon fiber trim is made more sustainably: end-cut pieces of the carbon weaves used elsewhere in the vehicle. Normally, these offcuts would be waste.

Two audio systems from KEF are available. But if you’re going for a vehicle like this, we’d suggest skipping the 1,380W system and ticking the box for the 23-speaker, 2,160W KEF Reference system.

ADAS Suite Includes LiDAR, OTA Updates

Lotus Eletre
(Photo/Lotus)

The Eletre gets a new Android-powered infotainment system. It can support natural voice control and augmented-reality display tech, all controlled from a 15.1-inch screen. But Lotus has gone far beyond that on the high-tech side.

The Advanced Driver Assistance Systems suite, including intelligent adaptive cruise control, comes fitted with a LiDAR vision system. The retractable sensor pods can create an incredibly detailed picture of the situation surrounding the vehicle, considered an essential part of future autonomous driving tech.

While it won’t drive itself at launch, the Lotus Eletre supports Over The Air software updates to help add those features later. Lotus calls it “future-proofed,” saying that when new assistance technologies become available, Lotus can add them to cars that are already on the road.

Deliveries of the Lotus Eletre are expected to start in China, the UK, and Europe in early 2023. The North American market will likely have to wait until early 2024. No word on pricing just yet, however.

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