It’s going to take us all some time to fully wrap our heads around the fact that the latest Lotus is a whopping, two-and-a-bit tonne electric SUV. To call it a departure from Lotus’ usual repertoire would be something of an understatement.
This isn’t just Lotus’ first series production EV. It’s literally the first car the brand has ever built in its 74 year history that doesn’t fit the description: “small, lightweight, two-seater sports car” (and don’t come at me with the Lotus Carlton, fellow car nerds – that was a modified Vauxhall and you know it). Even if it wasn’t electric, even if it wasn’t a full 5 metres long, the mere fact that this Lotus has rear doors would alone be enough to describe it as ‘radical’.
Sacrilege? I’m sure many petrolheads will claim so. Lightness has always been one of the core values of the Lotus brand and, while we don’t have a weight figure for the Eletre yet, you can bet your house it starts with a ‘two’ and ends with a ‘tonnes’. Now, I freely admit that I too wish the first Lotus EV (excluding the ever-imminent Evija hypercar) had been a compact, two-seat, b-road blaster. But with my sensible hat on, I think the Eletre makes an awful lot of sense for the Lotus brand. Exclusively building highly compromised driver’s cars is highly admirable, but it stunts Lotus’ growth and places a low ceiling on annual sales figures. The newish Chinese backers, Geely won’t settle for that and, to that end, branching out into more practical ‘lifestyle’ vehicles, as so many other sports car brands have in recent years, makes sense. Models like Eletre will help secure the brand’s future, enabling many more decades of the little sports cars which will of course remain at the brand’s core.
But more than that, I think Lotus going electric, and trying its hand at family cars, isn’t just good news for the brand – it’s good for EVs in general. While there is a fast-growing stable of new EVs that could be considered proper “driver’s cars”, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Truthfully, we’re figuring out how to imbue electric cars with that sense of fizzy vibrancy present in a great ICE driver’s car. Present in just about every Lotus ever made. Who better to show the world just how engaging an EV can be to drive? Two tonne SUV or not, I cannot wait to find out how the Eletre feels on a twisty road – my suspicion is that (hypercars aside) only the Taycan has any hope of preventing it claiming the throne of “best-handling EV in the world”. Time will tell.
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About the author
Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.