Lotus Eletre: racy all-electric SUV launches on to world stage

Sports car maker has produced its first big car, but the vehicle is in no way a departure from the brand's traditional tearaway offerings

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The race for car manufacturers to reveal fresh electric offerings continues apace, and Lotus has now entered the fray with the unveiling of the Eletre. And (whisper it), it’s an SUV. From Lotus.

The vehicle was introduced to the world in a suitably unrestrained fashion, with the car, hidden in a yellow cube, making its way up the River Thames in central London in a specially commissioned barge prior to the official launch.

Former Formula One racing driver Jenson Button then drove it onstage in an event viewed online by motoring enthusiasts across the world.

The Eletre is a distinct change in direction for Lotus, as the manufacturer’s modus operandi in days of yore was keeping cars as uncomplicated and featherweight as possible. The quote most associated with the brand came from its founder Colin Chapman, who said, in relation to how its cars were built: “Simplify, then add lightness.”

Changes in the manufacturer’s line-up are clearly afoot though, as China’s Geely Group bought a majority stake in the company in 2017, and the Eletre is the first in a line of products that are likely to be a step away from the brand’s traditional tearaway, sporty offerings.

Don’t be conned into thinking the Eletre is any slouch though. The very opposite, in fact.

It’ll hit 260 kilometres an hour on any road where the local authorities will allow it, and the 1 to 100kph time is 2.95 seconds. One supposes Chapman would have been happy with that.

It looks pretty fierce too. Mean-looking SUVs are not uncommon these days, but the Eletre looks like it could take its place in any suspects' line-up. We live in times now where cars with stylings that would have only been seen on never-available concept vehicles are now a reality, and this new Lotus is a prime example.

Aerodynamics come in the shape of a closing grille and a three-position rear spoiler.

There doesn’t seem anything too shabby about the interior either, with stitched leather and high-density wool fabrics being a feature, alongside a microfibre dashboard.

It’s safe to assume that the name Eletre sounding a little bit like electric has been done on purpose, but Lotus tells us that the name means "coming to life" in "some eastern European languages”. It all dovetails nicely, then.

The news comes just after Lotus announced a £100 million upgrade to its factory in Hethel, the site in the east of England that has been the manufacturer’s home since 1966.

This being the case, it seems that Lotus’s background as a niche manufacturer is at an end and it’s making a play for the big time.

If you fancy an Eletre, commentators are citing a starting price of about £115,000, though that is yet to be confirmed. The first cars will reach their new homes early in 2023.

Updated: October 13, 2022, 10:00 AM