Lotus Eletre electric hyper-SUV starts from £89,500

The first-ever Lotus SUV is now available to order, offering a range of up to 373 miles and a sub-three-second 0-62mph time

Lotus, for its entire history a purveyor of lightweight sports cars, has entered the electric SUV game. The all-new Eletre serves as the British firm’s rival for the BMW iX, Polestar 3, Mercedes EQE SUV and Tesla Model X. Order books are now open, with the electric hyper-SUV starting from £89,500.

Three models are available: the Eletre, Eletre S and flagship Eletre R, with all three featuring a dual-motor powertrain and a 112kWh battery. The base model and Eletre S both offer a range of 373 miles, while the Eletre R prioritises performance and boasts a 0-62mph time of just 2.95 seconds.

The Eletre lays the groundwork for a new range of lifestyle EVs that Lotus has already announced – but more on those later. It’s also the first model to debut following the launch of the brand’s final combustion-engined model, the Emira, and will be built in Lotus' brand-new factory in China. First examples are due to arrive in Europe by early 2023.

Lotus Eletre design

While an SUV is a radical departure from the low-slung, two-door Elise, Exige and Esprit sports cars that Lotus built its reputation on, the Eletre does use the latest “carved by air” design philosophy established by the Emira and Evija. 

Short overhangs at the front and rear and a three-metre wheelbase are both elements typical of other flagship EVs, and Lotus has combined these with a number of aerodynamic-focused features. For example, there’s a ‘floating’ split roof spoiler that directs air on to the rear spoiler. Plus, there are numerous vents that channel air through the car’s body to reduce wind resistance. This improves efficiency and performance, claims Lotus.

The Eletre measures over five metres long and stands 1.63 metres tall. Width ranges from 2.1 to 2.2 metres depending on whether the optional digital wing mirrors are fitted. There’s up to 688 litres of boot space on offer, or 1,532 litres with the rear seats folded down, plus a 77-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet.

As well as being eye-catching, the Eletre also features the “most advanced active aerodynamics package on any production SUV” according to Lotus. That includes the active rear spoiler, which deploys automatically at certain speeds, while the front grille can open when the battery pack, front brakes or electric motors need cooling, remaining closed the rest of the time to improve aerodynamics.

The front end also features Matrix LED lights and there’s a full-width light bar at the rear. The car shown here is riding on 23-inch alloy wheels with carbon-fibre inserts, behind which are 10-piston carbon-ceramic brakes – both of which are offered as optional extras.

Range, performance, battery and charging

Under the Eletre’s heavily sculpted bodywork is a 112kWh battery that feeds a pair of electric motors – one powering the front axle and another the rear – meaning every model comes with all-wheel-drive. In the base Eletre and Eletre S this setup produces 595bhp and 710Nm of torque; enough for 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds. 

These two versions also boast a range of up to 373 miles (600 kilometres). That’s on par with the BMW iX and Polestar 3, which in their longest-range forms can cover around 380 miles. The latest Tesla Model X Long Range can do 350 miles on a charge. 

However, sitting at the top-of-the-range is the Eletre R, which pumps out a total of 893bhp and 985Nm of torque, slashing the electric hyper-SUV’s time 0-62mph time to 2.95 seconds. That’s quicker than the BMW iX M60 or Mercedes-AMG EQE 53, though the extra performance also means range is reduced to 304 miles for the Eletre R.

Thanks to the Lotus’ 800-volt electrical architecture, the Eletre can go from 10-80% charge in just 20 minutes if you plug it into a 350kW ultra-rapid charger. Charging at home can be done at up to 22kW if you have the necessary three-phase electrics, but if not a regular 7.4kW home wallbox is likely to take close to 17 hours to fill the Lotus’ battery. There are charging ports located on both sides of the car for easier access.

Another performance-orientated feature of the Eletre is torque vectoring by braking, which should help with handling in the five-metre-long SUV. Meanwhile, rear-axle steering is designed to improve manoeuvrability at lower speeds, as well as stability at high speeds. The Eletre rides on active air suspension and 22-inch wheels as standard (20 or 23 inch items are also available), as does a choice of range, tour, sport, off-road and individual driving modes.

Interior and technology

At the heart of the Eletre’s cabin is a 15.1-inch central infotainment touchscreen whose user interface, according to Lotus, allows 95% of the car’s functions to be accessed with three or fewer touches. The central screen is flanked by two slim digital instrument panels: one for the driver and another for the front passenger. On top of those displays are LED strips that change colour to illustrate things like an incoming phone call or changing cabin temperature. The driver also benefits from a standard augmented-reality head-up display, plus wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The steering wheel itself has the same squared-off shape as the one in the Emira. The Eletre’s also houses the controls for the infotainment and adaptive cruise control, while the paddles behind it adjust the strength of the regenerative braking. Interestingly, when you open the door, the front seats and steering wheel move back to help create more room to get in, before returning to their set position once you shut the door.

As standard, the Eletre comes with five seats, but it’s available with the four-seater layout shown here as part of the Executive Seat Pack. In this version, the middle seat is replaced by a centre console with two cupholders, a wireless charging tray and a nine-inch angled touchscreen to control the infotainment. However, the four-seater version also reduces the Eletre’s boot space from 688 litres to 611 litres.

One thing you won’t find in the Eletre’s cabin is leather. Instead, Lotus has used microfibres for key touchpoints and wool-blend fabrics for the upholstery, because they're 50% lighter, in addition to employing recycled carbon-fibre trim for hard surfaces.

The Eletre will be available with virtual door mirrors that use body-mounted cameras in place of traditional side mirrors in markets that allow it. These include the UK, as both the soon-to-be-facelifted Audi e-tron SUV and the Honda e city car use this technology. The mirror units also house a second camera for the 360-degree parking display and a third for the autonomous driving systems.

As the most ‘connected’ Lotus yet, the Eletre gets a wide array of advanced driver assistance systems, ranging from adaptive cruise control and road-sign recognition, to lane-keep assistance and collision mitigation. Several of the Eletre’s systems use data from the car’s deployable LIDAR sensors, which remain hidden until they’re needed, protruding from the top of the windshield and rear glass and from the front wheelarches. 

This LIDAR technology, combined with other sensors and cameras around the car, should allow for some level of autonomous driving. The Eletre will be able to receive over-the-air (OTA) software updates from Lotus, plus owners can buy new software-based features as well. A dedicated smartphone app will allow owners to check vehicle and charge status, as well as carrying out other functions.

Prices and equipment

The starting price for the Eletre is £89,500 at launch, while the Eletre S and Eletre R are priced at £104,500 and £120,000 respectively. Standard equipment includes Matrix LED lights, an active front grille, air suspension, torque vectoring, 22-inch alloy wheels, 15.1-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity and wireless phone charging.

The Eletre S adds extra kit like privacy glass, an active rear spoiler, configurable ambient lighting, soft-close doors and a more powerful 2,160-watt, 23-speaker KEF audio system. As well as the boost in power output, the flagship R model adds exterior carbon fibre elements, stainless steel pedals and a unique synthetic driving sound.

The Eletre R also comes with the Lotus Dynamic Handling Pack (optional on the Eletre and Eletre S) which includes performance-focused tyres, launch control, and a bespoke Track mode that lowers the ride height, applies firmer damper settings and tauter active anti-roll control. Carbon-ceramic brakes can also be specified across the range for an extra cost.

There are several other option packs available, too, ranging from the Executive Seat Pack to a Highway Assist Pack, but many of their features are offered individually. Customers get a choice of six exterior paint colours – though more are coming – as well as six unique interior themes that use a combination of synthetic leather and recycled man-made fabrics. 

In the UK, the Eletre is covered by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, plus Lotus will provide roadside assistance across Europe for five years after it leaves the factory.

Future Lotus electric car range

While the Eletre SUV may not be Lotus’ first-ever EV – that honour goes to the near-2,000bhp Evija hypercar – it is the first in a line-up of three electric ‘lifestyle’ models Lotus has previously announced.

Following the Eletre will be a similarly sized four-door coupe in 2023, referred to as the Type 133. This could be a direct rival for the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S. Then, 2024 will see the launch of a smaller SUV, currently codenamed Type 134, that’s expected to compete with the electric Porsche Macan and Audi Q6 e-tron.

Both of these models will use the same all-new ‘Premium Architecture’ platform that underpins the Eletre. All three 'lifestyle' models will also be built in China. Finally, in 2026, Lotus will launch a zero-emissions sports car, which will share a platform with the electric successor to the Alpine A110 and use technology developed specifically for it by battery specialist BritishVolt.

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