OSLO, Norway — It doesn’t get rather more future-forward than the 2024 Lotus Eletre, a ginormous leap into electrification that appears, feels and drives like nothing earlier than it. The Eletre’s all-new all the things pushes into uncharted territory for Lotus: that is the model’s first EV and SUV, coming into a crowded market that’s essential to the way forward for the 75-year-old British nameplate. No stress Lotus, we’re right here for it.
First off, the design. As frivolous because it appears to deal with the subjectivity of appears, look issues with six-figure assertion items. Regardless of the Eletre’s underpinnings being developed in Sweden and Germany, and the truth that it is in-built China by majority stakeholder Geely, the design hails from the spot the place the model’s late, nice founder Colin Chapman first arrange store: Hethel, England.
The design is triggering for a lot of, from the cut up entrance grille and bifurcated headlamps to the peak of the midsection and the sweep of the tail. Now that the SUV area is completely oversaturated, the Eletre’s appears are simply relatable to different extra acquainted autos. In individual, there’s way more to the Eletre than the web feedback of “Hey, that simply appears like (clean)” would counsel. Sure, sure bits really feel spinoff, notably the nebulous headlamp zone. However there’s additionally inventiveness within the particulars, just like the vented hood and creased door surfaces that summon a well-known design language because the Emira. Additionally distinctive is the wagon-like rear overhang and concave tail that’s accentuated with a protracted, uninterrupted LED lightstrip, a la Bugatti Chiron.
Spec performs an enormous half on this massive crossover’s appears. The launch colour, Kaimu Gray, makes it come throughout as somewhat plain and unremarkable, whereas Galloway Inexperienced and the Photo voltaic Yellow pictured right here faucets into the model heritage in a great way. Outfitted in splashier hues, Eletre stands out as an SUV that appears nimbler and extra lithe than its dimensions counsel. At 16.7 ft in size and seven ft huge (measured with the traditional mirrors we’ll get within the States), Eletre isn’t any skinny Minnie. It’s 6.8 inches longer than a Cayenne, 5.1 inches lengthier than a Purosangue and a couple of.5 inches better than a DBX. It’s 0.4 inch shorter than an Urus, however is 2 inches wider.
Inside, the sensation is spacious, with first rate leg, shoulder and head room. There’s good ahead visibility however an iffy rear quarter view, which in different nations is countered by digital sideview “mirrors” that show their feed on 6-inch screens embedded within the doorways. The system, which might fine-tune the view by tapping the driver-side display screen and dragging the picture, reduces aerodynamic drag by 1.5% (whereas trying oh-so-sleek in distinction to the cumbersome, DOT-required optical mirrors). There’s no telling when the digital expertise can be clear for U.S. roads.
To scale back the quantity of automobile displacing air, Eletre incorporates fairly a little bit of what aerodynamicists name porosity, which means design parts that enable air to cross by, somewhat than over, the bodywork. Up entrance is a trick lively aero panel of six shuttered triangular panels on the decrease grille, which open and shut relying on cooling wants. There are pass-through entrance grilles, bonnet arches, wheel arches, even C- and D-pillar arches the place air can visibly run by the automobile and keep away from resistance. As such, Eletre achieves spectacular slipperiness contemplating its bulk: a drag coefficient of .26. Absent precise wind tunnel verification, I’d wager that the lengthy rear overhang helps contribute to that slight determine, since longer, tapered objects have a tendency to cut back drag. Aiding the hassle is an lively rear spoiler, which might produce as much as 247 kilos of downforce at prime velocity. The low cD helps Eletre obtain European WLTP vary figures of 373 miles on base and S fashions, and 304 miles on the extra aggressive R model. Official EPA vary figures are nonetheless TBD, however must be significantly decrease as they are typically extra sensible.
All three dual-motor Eletre fashions — base, S, and R — are powered by a 112-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery working on 800-volt structure. The entry and mid-models produce 603 horsepower and 524 lb-ft of torque routed by single-speed transmissions at every axle, whereas the highest canine R model cranks it as much as 905 hp and 726 lb-ft, and has a two-speed transmission on the rear axle (the entrance one stays single velocity). These figures are good for a claimed 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds, and a couple of.95 clicks for the R. Apparently, the two-speed transmission, which is meant for higher-speed functions, is barely good for a 5-mph bump in vMax, elevating the highest velocity as much as 165 mph.
Climb into the Eletre S and shut the door, and also you’ll expertise much more Lotus firsts: dual-paned window glass, and a flowery soft-close characteristic that lightly however firmly seals the door closed. The very un-Lotus-like options proceed, with a cabin whose ‘niceness’ leaves earlier Lotuses within the proverbial mud. Although I wasn’t aware about a construct sheet, my S mannequin tester appeared generously appointed, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces together with Alcantara on the middle console all the way in which to the underside of the retractable cupholders.
The dashboard is a modern, streamlined hunk of postmodern sculpture, with a slender aperture instrument panel that shows key data, whereas a central, 15.1-inch OLED touchscreen presides over the overwhelming majority of settings and controls. Whereas the few bodily switches are pleasantly completed in anodized and knurled textures, there’s not fairly sufficient of them to keep away from making essentially the most fundamental duties annoying. Sure, you’ll be able to toggle two paddles up or down to regulate local weather management goal temperatures, however altering the fan setting requires going into the touchscreen menu, which is nothing wanting irksome. Additionally pesky is the necessity to depend on the frilly menu system to align the route of the vents, just like the Tesla Mannequin Y. There is a cause Porsche is shifting away from such needlessly advanced issues after utilizing them within the Taycan. Worse, drivers could discover themselves in a lurch when overriding the GPS show with HVAC or audio settings, because the head-up show doesn’t present navigation data. And overlook a few bodily quantity knob: adjusting the sound degree requires both tapping the steering wheel-mounted button, or tapping on an emblem on the touchscreen and sliding the specified decibel degree accordingly.
Click on the R/N/D toggle into gear and the Eletre strikes ahead with quiet confidence. With 5 drive modes (and a sixth ‘Monitor’ mode with the R mannequin), there’s a surprisingly delicate throttle response with heavy utility of the best pedal. Even when matted, the majority of the ability doesn’t appear to return on till some momentum — say, at round 40 mph or so — has constructed up. A bifurcated left paddle handles brake regen settings, with the highest half rising regen and the decrease half decreasing it. The precise paddle determines drive mode. Disappointingly, the utmost regen setting delivers fairly robust off-throttle deceleration, however doesn’t enable for true one-pedal driving. When requested why, Director of Attribute Integration Sylvain Verstaeten instructed Autoblog, “Once we talked to a whole lot of potential prospects and what they need, it’s about making this automobile as accessible and simple to make use of, so present ICE prospects received’t be too misplaced.” The selection speaks to Lotus’ urge for food for appeasing a broad viewers, a telling indicator of the model’s need to interrupt freed from its cult standing and attempt for mass market adoption. The counter argument is all of us have been new to EVs in some unspecified time in the future too, and many people now admire one-pedal driving. Not providing it as a driver-selectable choice appears short-sighted.
In its monitor setting and setup with normal Pirelli P Zero rubber, the R mannequin punches tougher with noticeably gruntier acceleration. A two-pedal launch sequence dispatches a great deal of energy simply, holding the automobile in place till the brake pedal is lifted and the Eletre squirts ahead in anger. However past that very managed scenario, there’s a shocking approachability to the electrical crossover’s driving dynamics. The suggestions from Lotus’ first-ever electromechanical steering setup is correct and clear however not as overwhelmingly communicative as we’ve come to count on from the model. Brake pedal really feel is clear sufficient to ship good management, however not as transcendent as a correct sports activities automobile setup.
Laborious launches from a standstill to about 100 mph reveal gobs extra thrust than within the S mannequin, with a perceptible however not overly agency 1-2 gearshift at round 80 mph. Our take a look at automobile was geared up with the 48-volt suspension choice, which makes use of electromechanical actuators to calculate torque reactions in as little as 2 milliseconds. These actions counteract cornering forces with adjustable ranges of roll stiffness that may stiffen when applicable, or fully disconnect the rollbars if an ultracushy trip is desired. Based mostly on the super-smooth street and freeway surfaces we encountered throughout two days of driving in Oslo, Norway, it’s onerous to say how the Eletre would deal with the pothole-ridden wilds of say, Detroit, New York or Los Angeles.
All components thought of, the suspension appears compliant-yet-controlled, taming the potential slop of a 5,555-pound SUV somewhat nicely. A slalom course on an airstrip within the 5,820-lb R mannequin revealed good physique management and stable transitional habits at round 8/10ths, with palpable understeer when hustled into turn-in factors. There’s undoubtedly some observable heft to the Eletre when pushed onerous in Sport mode. Whereas it masks its mass fairly nicely, the burden is unquestionably there, particularly when making an attempt to juke from right-to-left and vice versa. Curiously, Lotus solely allowed two slalom course runs, each of them in Sport, not Monitor mode. Monitor’s much less restrictive intervention settings begs the query — if the Eletre is meant to be ‘For the drivers,’ why are you holding again, Lotus?
After a pair days behind the wheel of the Lotus Eletre, we’re left with virtually as many questions as we began with. Sure, the model’s first SUV effort displays a powerful degree of refinement in each idea and execution. However sure, there are just a few annoying technological overreaches as nicely, just like the trying-too-hard digitally managed air vents and the dearth of sure bodily controls. EV cognoscenti will undoubtedly dismiss the dearth of one-pedal driving, whereas Lotus purists will definitely scream bloody homicide on the electrified four-door sports activities automobile on stilts that weighs 5,555 kilos.
With so many tempestuous forces at odds, the place does that go away the beloved Lotus model? On condition that Lotus has produced as few as 1,200 autos yearly from its Hethel manufacturing unit, the Eletre marks a massively vital step in direction of re-introducing the model as a worldwide competitor towards the highest luxurious manufacturers from Germany, Italy, and america. Diehards will make the plain argument that Lotus’ first-ever SUV isn’t any sports activities automobile. And it’s not; they’ll cross final judgment when the model’s first, attainable two-seat EV mannequin is launched on the heels of the $2 million Evija EV hypercar.
In the end, consider it this manner: if the cushier, softer (and heavier) Eletre produces sufficient cashflow to the beleaguered sports activities automobile producer to as soon as once more grow to be a commercially viable carmaker, the automotive world can be richer for it. Reasonably than name out the Eletre for what it isn’t, let’s increase a glass for what we hope can be a promising future for Lotus.