You’re looking at the first-ever Lotus SUV.

    More than the all-electric Evija hypercar or petrol-powered Emira sports car, the Eletre represents the start of a new era for the brand under Chinese ownership.

    It’s not yet confirmed for Australia, but Lotus says it intends to import the car to Australia subject to ADR compliance.

    Here are the highlights for the Eletre:

    • The Eletre will have a battery with “more than” 100kWh of capacity
    • Power outputs will vary based on model, but the range will start at 442kW
    • Maximum range on the WLTP test cycle will be around 600km
    • The 100km/h sprint in the most powerful model will take less than 3.0 seconds

    At 5103mm long, 2231mm wide including mirrors, 1630mm tall, and riding on a 3019mm wheelbase, the Eletre is just 50mm shorter nose-to-tail than a BMW X7, and 231mm wider.

    It’s a big beast of a thing, no doubt about it, but Lotus says its “famed expertise in the fields of ride and handling, steering and optimised aerodynamics have been carefully and respectfully evolved”.

    Under the skin is a skateboard-style platform built around an 800V architecture, which supports ultra-rapid charging hooked up to a 350kW public DC charger. Lotus says a 350kW charger can deliver 400km of range in 20 minutes.

    The car also supports 22kW AC home charging from a wall box.

    With a dual-motor electric powertrain, the Eletre will go head-to-head with… actually, it’s pretty light on rivals at the moment.

    The BMW iX and Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV shape as rivals, but they aren’t nearly as sporty, while the upcoming Porsche Macan electric will be a smaller car. In the large luxury SUV space, it could be considered a Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Bentayga rival provided you’re willing to cross shop petrol and electric power.

    Lotus is promising the “most advanced active aerodynamics package on any production SUV”, and says the high energy density of the battery has allowed it to deliver big range in a smaller, lighter package.

    It rides on a five-link rear suspension as standard, backed by air springs and adjustable dampers. An adjustable ride height, active rear steering, active anti-roll bars, and brake-based torque vectoring are all on the options list.

    There are four drive modes for the car, each of which tailors the steering, damper, powertrain, and accelerator pedal.

    Lotus has always been about driving enjoyment, but the Eletre aims to also offer self-driving enjoyment as well. Along with the usual array of active driver assists, the car will be the first production model to feature a LiDAR system.

    Sensors atop the front and rear windscreens and the front wheel arches, appear when they’re required, and retract when they aren’t. When they’re active, Lotus says the Eletre supports “end-to-end autonomous driving technology and is future-proofed for further development”.

    As you’d expect, its self-driving software can be updated over-the-air throughout the car’s life.

    The cabin of the first-ever five-door Lotus is, as you’d expect, a luxurious tech-fest.

    The driver and passenger are faced with a 15.1-inch infotainment touchscreen which folds away when it’s not in use, and there’s a second slim display behind the steering wheel in place of the conventional instruments.

    Lotus says the touchscreen can be used to control every one of the car’s functions, and 95 per cent of menu items can be accessed within three presses. The design of the system revolves around a 3D Eletre, and has been designed to borrow from the worlds of gaming and mobile phones.

    There are also some physical buttons on hand for anyone who prefers doing things the old-fashioned way. A 15-speaker KEF sound system is standard, but a 23-speaker system is optional.

    There are just two seats in the rear, separated by a console housing a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment touchscreen and a wireless phone charger, along with cupholders and an armrest.

    The Eletre will be built at a new factory in China. Production is set to kick off later in 2022, with deliveries to China, the USA, the UK, and Europe set to commence in 2023.

    “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,” said Matt Windle, Lotus Cars managing director.

    “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 performance car 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.”

    Could the Eletre draw you out of a BMW iX, or something like a Lamborghini Urus?

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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