Lotus Eletre Review - Transformer

Apr 3, 2024

As much as the iconic carmaker will forever be associated with some of the most striking, effervescent, characterful sportscars ever made, Lotus’ first ever SUV is something else. It’s a revelation.

Words Cameron Officer Photos Alex McDonald-Bush

When viewed in context of where Lotus has reemerged from in the last decade or so, the Eletre – in design and technological ability – seems like the very definition of a spaceship. At least, to anyone assessing the iconic Brit brand even 10 years ago it would (and more on why that is in a moment).

But actually, when you think about it, Lotus has always been designing spaceships.

Elite, Elan, Eclat, Europa… all very much of their time, but each with their definitive aerodynamics and dramatic silhouettes, also all the stuff of science fiction in their contemporary automotive landscapes. After all, even the world’s greatest spy loved an Esprit, especially one that could transform into a submarine.

While the amazing new Eletre electric hyper-SUV can’t do that, it certainly has plenty of otherworldly, amazing attributes inside it that genuinely make it unlike anything else on the market today.

It’s an astonishing thing, even before you set off in it to explore the universe – or even just the surrounding countryside.

Step inside the SUV and it’s unlike any other interior, front and rear, that you’re likely to encounter. It’s a wonderful place to be (and the yellow seatbelts are great too).

Lotus’ ‘intelligent cockpit’ infotainment system is truly impressive, with most functions accessible through the centrally mounted 15.1-inch full High-Definition OLED centre screen. Even the fonts used in the display add to the sense that this is a premium offering from a car company that loves attention to detail.

But there’s so much more to the system than that. Lotus has used ‘Unreal Engine’ technology from the gaming industry in its development, allowing for real-time 3D content and experiences. To power this, the Eletre boasts state-of-the-art processing power which includes two Qualcomm 8155 automotive cockpit digital platforms.

Meaning? The system reconfigures the user’s in-car experience by providing fully customisable displays in the ultra-slim floating touchscreen with one billion colours for more realistic graphics and more futuristic visual effects. See? Sci-fi.

Also standard in the vehicle is LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. It’s a world-first in a production car and, eventually, will help with end-to-end autonomous driving duties. Integrated over-the-air software updates ensure the system will be fully ready when individual market regulations allow for more advanced levels of autonomous driving. James Bond, eat your heart out.

Technology aside, make no mistake that the Eletre also offers up a thrilling driving experience. It’s still a Lotus after all.

Three different versions of the car will eventually be available – the Eletre, Eletre S and Eletre R – with the choice of two powertrains. The Eletre and Eletre S both feature the 450kW single-speed version, with a maximum range of 600km. The Eletre R comes with the flagship 675kW dual-speed system and a maximum range of 490km. Those are thoroughly usable distances without needing to recharge.

Torque figures are 710Nm and 985Nm respectively. The 112kWh battery for both versions boasts a charging time (10%-80%) of just 20 minutes using a 350kW charger.

The flagship Eletre R is the world’s fastest dual-motor pure electric SUV. It has a top speed of 265km/h and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 2.95 seconds. That’s ‘superbike’ quick in a full-sized SUV.

Even the vehicle’s key (a shiny, solid, triangular talisman with the Lotus brand monogram at its centre) looks like some sort of alien hardware discovered in the desert.

The entire Eletre experience is fascinating. One with multiple layers. One that is – in terms of both the brand itself and high-performance electric vehicles – truly transformational.