The 2024 Lotus Eletre pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a Lotus vehicle, leaving behind the agile sports cars that have won the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide. It’s hard to imagine Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus, approving of this large, heavy electric SUV.
However, Lotus, and more importantly, its Chinese parent company Geely, understand that relying solely on niche two-seaters won’t sustain a profitable car company. In order to secure funding for special projects like the Evija hypercar, Lotus must expand its offerings to appeal to a wider market.
Enter the Eletre, a unique-looking SUV that defies conventional design. Its wild styling and unusual proportions make it hard to judge from photographs alone. Measuring 200.9 inches in length, the Eletre is slightly longer than a Ford Explorer, but its low roofline gives it a tall wagon-like appearance, particularly from the side.
Yet, this unconventional design serves a purpose. Despite its lack of conventional beauty, the Eletre excels in aerodynamics. Every vent and cut-through is strategically designed to enhance aerodynamic performance. Lotus claims an impressive drag coefficient of 0.26 for the Eletre, making it one of the most streamlined SUVs on the road. This aerodynamic efficiency contributes to an important factor: driving range. While European WLTP testing suggests a range of up to 373 miles, it is expected to be lower under stricter EPA standards.
Beneath its skin, the Eletre is relatively straightforward. It features a 112-kWh lithium-ion battery pack arranged in the traditional skateboard style, capable of accepting charging speeds of up to 350 kW (although the company’s clarification on this matter is vague). Both the base version and the midrange Eletre S sport a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive configuration that generates 603 horsepower and 524 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds. Impressive, considering the SUV’s hefty 5,500-pound curb weight.
Lotus offers a higher-output variant, the Eletre R, which also utilizes the same battery pack. However, it incorporates a 2-speed transmission for its rear electric motor, similar to the Porsche Taycan. With 905 horsepower and 726 lb-ft of torque, the Eletre R achieves an astonishing 0-62 mph time of 2.9 seconds. Surprisingly, despite its quick acceleration, launching the Eletre fails to deliver an exhilarating experience.
The initial moment of acceleration feels delayed compared to many high-performance EVs, which often provide instant power. Once the SUV reaches higher speeds, it becomes somewhat unwieldy. The front end exhibits some movement, and the overall feel becomes floaty—a description I never expected to associate with a Lotus. However, this observation is based on driving at 100 mph, as I was not permitted to go faster.
During my two laps on a coned-off autocross course, Lotus instructed me to activate Sport mode for the Eletre R. Unfortunately, I cannot provide insights into how the Track setting might enhance the driving experience on an actual racetrack. Nevertheless, the Eletre R’s 5,800-pound curb weight is noticeable during cornering. Thankfully, the standard active air suspension and 48-volt-powered active anti-roll bars effectively minimize body motions, allowing the Eletre to confidently navigate turns in an autocross setting.
The majority of my time with the Eletre was spent on Norway’s well-maintained public roads, driving the Eletre S. It accelerates smoothly and offers a comfortable ride. However, due to the excellent road conditions around Oslo, it was challenging to assess how the Eletre would handle rougher pavement, particularly with the largest available 22- or 23-inch wheels.
The Eletre offers four levels of regenerative braking, conveniently adjustable using the left paddle shifter on the steering wheel. The differences between the settings are noticeable, and while the highest level does not allow for full one-pedal driving, it comes close. Transitioning to mechanical brakes is a seamless process, with no sudden change when regenerative braking gives way to friction. The selected regenerative setting remains consistent when switching between Sport, Tour, and Range modes.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to report regarding the Eletre’s performance. The presence of speed cameras along Norway’s roads, combined with the compliance of Norwegian drivers to the posted speed limits, prevented me from fully experiencing the Eletre’s capabilities. Nevertheless, I can confirm that the steering is light but appropriately tuned for such a large SUV, and the interior is quiet and comfortable, making extended periods behind the wheel effortless.
However, the driver-assistance technology does present a major quirk in the Eletre’s driving experience. Above the windshield, you’ll notice a cut-out where the pop-up lidar system is housed. Lotus equips every Eletre with this standard feature, although its functionality is currently limited. It does not offer the hands-off-the-wheel capability found in GM’s Super Cruise. Nevertheless, Lotus claims that the inclusion of lidar prepares the vehicle for future autonomous applications. An annoyance, however, is the audible sound produced when the lidar rises and lowers.
The adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning systems present a mixed experience. The lane-departure warning system is overly sensitive, triggering an alert if you get anywhere near a lane marking. On the other hand, the adaptive cruise control requires some refinement. On several occasions, the Eletre struggled to maintain a consistent speed, leading to abrupt changes in velocity in an attempt to maintain a safe following distance. It reminded me of riding in a New York taxi, where the driver uses the gas pedal like an on/off switch instead of a smooth throttle. Hopefully, future software updates will address this issue.
On the other hand, the central multimedia system requires little improvement. Powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, the 15.1-inch display offers detailed, colorful graphics with excellent responsiveness. Although Lotus’ native infotainment design has a slight learning curve, it quickly becomes familiar with regular use. Notably, the Eletre does not currently support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, limiting connectivity options.
Lotus takes great pride in the combination KEF and Dolby Atmos surround-sound stereo system. However, it does not allow users to adjust audio settings such as bass, treble, balance, or fader—a feature commonly available in most cars. While the system performs well for most tracks, bass-heavy audio can become overpowering, potentially causing discomfort for passengers or pets sensitive to certain vibrations or tones.
The driver benefits from a wide but short 12.7-inch digital gauge screen and a large head-up display that projects redundant information onto the windshield. Strangely, active turn-by-turn directions do not appear on either of these displays when following a navigation route. Instead, reliance on audio prompts or the central screen is necessary for route information. Passengers receive their own 12.7-inch screen, but its functionality is limited.
The Eletre impresses with its luxurious appointments, surpassing expectations for build quality associated with Lotus. Soft leather surfaces blend harmoniously with genuine metal switchgear, and Alcantara is available for those with a preference for it. The electrochromic sunroof automatically adjusts its tint based on external lightingconditions, and the driver can override this setting through the infotainment screen.
The Eletre offers two seating configurations: four- or five-seat options. The former features two dedicated cut-outs in the rear instead of a traditional bench. Both rows of seats provide ample legroom, and headroom is satisfactory, considering the vehicle’s relatively low height. With the rear seats in place, the Eletre offers 21.6 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to 54.1 cubic feet when the seats are folded flat.
Overall, the Lotus Eletre presents itself as a well-rounded luxury electric crossover, poised to compete with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE SUV and the BMW iX M60. While U.S. pricing has yet to be announced, it is expected to start around six figures, with the Eletre S commanding around $120,000 and the Eletre R priced between $140,000 and $150,000.
However, one must consider the availability of the Eletre. Lotus has a minimal dealer network in the United States, and while efforts are being made to expand it, such endeavors take time. This, coupled with the Eletre’s departure from the core characteristics that attract die-hard Lotus enthusiasts, may deter some from pursuing ownership.
Nonetheless, the Lotus Eletre offers several appealing features. It is a capable luxury electric vehicle that stands out from the crowd. Is it a true Lotus? Not exactly. But is it worth your attention? Absolutely.
Review by Steven Ewing
Lotus sponsored travel and accommodation for AutoMotorMart to provide this firsthand report.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about electric appeal
What is the 2024 Lotus Eletre?
The 2024 Lotus Eletre is an electric SUV that represents a departure from Lotus’ traditional sports car offerings, aiming to appeal to a wider market.
What is the driving range of the Lotus Eletre?
The driving range of the Lotus Eletre is approximately 373 miles according to optimistic European WLTP testing. However, it is important to note that under stricter EPA standards, the range will likely be reduced.
What is the powertrain configuration of the Lotus Eletre?
The Lotus Eletre features a 112-kWh lithium-ion battery pack arranged in the traditional skateboard style. It has a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup that produces 603 horsepower and 524 lb-ft of torque in the base and midrange versions.
How does the Lotus Eletre handle and perform?
The Lotus Eletre offers impressive acceleration, with a 0-62 mph time of 4.5 seconds in the base and midrange models. The higher-output Eletre R achieves an even quicker time of 2.9 seconds. However, some reviewers note that the SUV can feel somewhat unwieldy at higher speeds and lacks the traditional thrill associated with Lotus vehicles.
What are the driver-assistance features in the Lotus Eletre?
The Lotus Eletre comes equipped with a lidar system that prepares the vehicle for future autonomous applications. However, the current functionality is limited, with basic lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control systems. Some reviewers have noted that the adaptive cruise control system requires refinement.
Does the Lotus Eletre have a luxurious interior?
Yes, the Lotus Eletre offers a well-appointed interior with soft leather surfaces, real metal switchgear, and optional Alcantara upholstery. The SUV provides comfortable seating for four or five occupants, with ample legroom and a decent cargo space.
What are the multimedia and connectivity features in the Lotus Eletre?
The Lotus Eletre features a 15.1-inch central display powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, offering detailed graphics and immediate responsiveness. However, it does not currently support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The SUV also includes a combination KEF and Dolby Atmos surround-sound stereo system, although audio settings cannot be adjusted.
What is the expected price range for the Lotus Eletre?
The U.S. pricing for the Lotus Eletre has yet to be announced. However, it is anticipated to start around six figures, with the base Eletre S likely to be priced around $120,000 and the higher-output Eletre R in the range of $140,000 to $150,000.
More about electric appeal
- WLTP testing
- Porsche Taycan
- GM’s Super Cruise
- Epic Games’ Unreal Engine
- Mercedes-Benz AMG EQE SUV
- BMW iX M60